Posts Tagged ‘post-processing’

Post-processing of digital images

July 29, 2017

Post-processing of photographic images: I’d divide this into two broad categories: image enhancement, and image manipulation.

The first is the tweaking of the image to better the colours, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and other effects. The second is the active addition or removal of elements/images to or from the original photograph. The end result obtained, and its success as an image, is, I find, very subjective.

In either category, unless there is a situation where post-processing is specifically forbidden, or the RAW file must be produced, it’s entirely up to the viewer’s sense of aesthetics to rate the photograph as visually appealling, or not. I find, increasingly, images being post-processed to the point where they are more digital paintings than photography.

But as I repeat…this is entirely in the eye of the beholder, and as long as there is no intent to wilfully deceive the viewer, the image enhancement or manipulation is fine. It’s only if those images (like the five-headed snake that’s been doing the rounds for years!) are created to make a false statement, that the word “photoshopped!” (with that exclamation mark at the end) takes on a perjorative meaning.

Here’s a very witty image shared by my friend Vikram Bellur about one of the effects of post-processing:

miracles 290717

However, I do like the fact that post-processing is now in the hands of each and every photographer, instead of some guy dipping film into a stale chemical mix at some photo lab, and delivering images that either look in the pink of health, or are depressed and blue! And if I choose not to post-process, that rests with me, too.

The eternal debate….

November 4, 2011

Photography…is it documentation, or is it art? Now that the enhancement or manipulation of images is in the hands of the photographer,in these days of digital photography, rather than the faceless “colour laboratory” that used to process film, the question arises with unfailing regularity.

I think that the two are equally valid types of photography…much like realism and impressionism (or any other branch of abstract) in art. One type of photography seeks only to document, to present the reality of the moment that was captured on camera. The other seeks to enhance the impact of the image, by manipulating the image itself. Both are valid in their own spheres.

Here is the image of the silhouette of the Black Bulbul, that I took at Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand, on 291011:

blk blbl 291011 dhnlti

And my good friend Sethu, who is an excellent photographer and possesses great post-processing skills as well, decided to make something more creative out of it, and here is the image he sent me:

L sethu's artwork of blck blbl 021111

One can clearly see that the image that has the lovely sky background is far more appealing than the simpler image, for which the value is its veracity. So, rather than classify them as “real” and “fake”, a classification which implies a value judgement, I’d call them “real” and “art” photographs.

It’s up to the photographer, I feel, to decide what each image should be. I personally like to document what I have seen and experienced, and use my images to illustrate my narrative, or show things through my eyes; and I also save a lot of time by not post-processing. I like clicking images so much that if I started enhancing them, I would never post much….I click to share, and am not bothered too much about a perfect or an artisitic photograph.

But others differ; they would, even in a realistic photograph, enhance the image a bit to make an excellent image out of one that is good to begin with. And, in the case of many of the images that one gets in internet forwards, the images are manipulated to get the maximum artistic impact out of them, so the extent of post-processing could be quite high.

So…I feel that there need not be any comparison of the two types of images; I’m happy to look at wonderful images that I know have been post-processed, and equally happy to see a delightful image of two kittens playing, taken by someone’s first camera. It’s only when I am asked to compare the two (or, as happened today) asked if I can “match” these images, that I feel the need to state my viewpoint….vive le difference, is what I say.

However, if a set of parameters includes even an implicit requirement for “unprocessed” images, then a good photographer would mention the fact that the images are processed, if it has been done. This will avoid all difficulties and difficulties….such as the photographer’s work being disqualified, and the reputation besmirched.

Post-processing….

October 10, 2011

Here’s something that I wrote to a friend, who’s just taken up photography:

Try GIMP, which is free, unlike the overpriced Photoshop (unless of course you get a pirated version, which is quite easy to get). I find Picasa (a very basic program) adequate for my very basic zoomings and croppings, and for me, an added advantage is that when I use it to email photos, it downsizes them for me. I’m sure many new post-processing programs have come up recently…trawl the net for some.

My personal…er…focus… is documentation, not the artistic photograph, so I have long since discarded the idea of enhancement/manipulation of images. (I never shoot in RAW, even on the DSLR, a fact that will make most serious photographers shrink back in utter disgust.)

But it’s a good skill to learn. If you want to…attend one of the post-processing workshops in Bangalore. They are all very good!

Of course, the important thing is to get a good photograph first, but I love the fact that the processing is our hands now, not some nameless technician in some colour laboratory, who’s using a leftover batch of chemicals on our precious images!

You can also, on the net, pick up tips on some basic techniques. We are all generally short on time, and often, when we don’t post at once, we never get around to it at all. My photography is pretty basic, and I look forward to your rapidly going past that stage!

**********************

What’s YOUR take on post-processing? The eternal debate on “is it enhancement or manipulation?” rages on…..

The Photoshop Effect

June 9, 2008

Even granite plaques in Kanakapura have what I call the “Photoshop Effect”…..Here’s one done for the Sri Madheshwara Temple:

Sri Mahadheshwara’s ochre robes have been “photoshopped” to orange and the rest to black and white!

This whole business of RAW v. JPEG

October 3, 2007

In digital photography, one can shoot in one (or both) of two modes: RAW, or JPEG. The RAW image, as the name suggests, is the equivalent of the unprocessed non-digital image; it can be post-processed, the image sharpened, the colours adjusted, and so on….it occupies more space on the camera’s memory card

The JPEG image is the “almost-finished-cooking” image. It really cannot be post-processed (except maybe some cropping and zooming on a program like Picasa.)

“Serious” photographers shoot only in RAW (shooting in both modes occupies even more space on the memory card.)

I shot in JPEG, and was told by a lot of friends that with a little post-processing, my pictures would become much better. This was a completely valid statement. Some friends DID post-process some pictures of mine and showed me the remarkable difference.

But…

What I did not realize (though noelladsa did tell me) was HOW much time post-processing would take.

I found that pictures were just piling up, waiting for me to find some time to do that post-processing..and I found that instead of posting pictures as soon as I had taken them, when the excitement of the image and its associated memory was fresh, I was doing exactly the same as in the old pre-digital days, when I had to wait for a roll of film to finish, by which time some of the pictures, and the occasions on which they were taken, were quite forgotten.

So I have decided…I am NOT a serious enough photographer (in terms of image, composition, etc etc etc) to wait and post-process stuff and put the pics up. To me, the content of the photograph is much more important; I want to use the photos to tell a story. If, by the way, the photos are good, that’s OK….but I don’t really mind posting lousy pics (like the low-light horrors we took on Saturday at Bannerghatta) because they, too, tell a story..in that instance of low light and bad photography conditions, and the limitations of the S3.

But I still chuckle at the thought of how my JPEG-ness catches serious photographers. I was on a bird census with Vijay Cavale, who has documented more than 400 species of birds, and when we were out, we saw the Forest Wagtail, which was on his list of to-be-documented birds. He quickly took my camera, shot the bird…and then realized that I was NOT shooting in RAW…he was so utterly disgusted with me that he could barely bring himself to talk to me, the rest of the day!

Another time, kalyan loved a photo that I took of a baby elephant, and wanted me to send it to him for post-processing…sainath gently reminded him that I was an outcaste photographer!

And when I want to see great photos…I have a HUGE group of friends who are superb photographers…why bother to learn gourmet cooking when surrounded by pro chefs? Producing good thayir shaatham is enough!

And just to wind up, here’s a picture of some exquisite flowers in Lalbagh; Karthik informs me that this tree is called “Colville’s Glory” and I can quite see why the word “glory” is used….it was in bloom in September.

Colville's Glory, Lalbagh 070907

Are there any more defiant amateurs out there like me? There don’t seem to be…all I see on LJ and Blogger and Picasa and Flickr are a series of incredible images….!

This whole business of RAW v. JPEG

October 3, 2007

In digital photography, one can shoot in one (or both) of two modes: RAW, or JPEG. The RAW image, as the name suggests, is the equivalent of the unprocessed non-digital image; it can be post-processed, the image sharpened, the colours adjusted, and so on….it occupies more space on the camera’s memory card

The JPEG image is the “almost-finished-cooking” image. It really cannot be post-processed (except maybe some cropping and zooming on a program like Picasa.)

“Serious” photographers shoot only in RAW (shooting in both modes occupies even more space on the memory card.)

I shot in JPEG, and was told by a lot of friends that with a little post-processing, my pictures would become much better. This was a completely valid statement. Some friends DID post-process some pictures of mine and showed me the remarkable difference.

But…

What I did not realize (though noelladsa did tell me) was HOW much time post-processing would take.

I found that pictures were just piling up, waiting for me to find some time to do that post-processing..and I found that instead of posting pictures as soon as I had taken them, when the excitement of the image and its associated memory was fresh, I was doing exactly the same as in the old pre-digital days, when I had to wait for a roll of film to finish, by which time some of the pictures, and the occasions on which they were taken, were quite forgotten.

So I have decided…I am NOT a serious enough photographer (in terms of image, composition, etc etc etc) to wait and post-process stuff and put the pics up. To me, the content of the photograph is much more important; I want to use the photos to tell a story. If, by the way, the photos are good, that’s OK….but I don’t really mind posting lousy pics (like the low-light horrors we took on Saturday at Bannerghatta) because they, too, tell a story..in that instance of low light and bad photography conditions, and the limitations of the S3.

But I still chuckle at the thought of how my JPEG-ness catches serious photographers. I was on a bird census with Vijay Cavale, who has documented more than 400 species of birds, and when we were out, we saw the Forest Wagtail, which was on his list of to-be-documented birds. He quickly took my camera, shot the bird…and then realized that I was NOT shooting in RAW…he was so utterly disgusted with me that he could barely bring himself to talk to me, the rest of the day!

Another time, kalyan loved a photo that I took of a baby elephant, and wanted me to send it to him for post-processing…sainath gently reminded him that I was an outcaste photographer!

And when I want to see great photos…I have a HUGE group of friends who are superb photographers…why bother to learn gourmet cooking when surrounded by pro chefs? Producing good thayir shaatham is enough!

And just to wind up, here’s a picture of some exquisite flowers in Lalbagh; Karthik informs me that this tree is called “Colville’s Glory” and I can quite see why the word “glory” is used….it was in bloom in September.

Colville's Glory, Lalbagh 070907

Are there any more defiant amateurs out there like me? There don’t seem to be…all I see on LJ and Blogger and Picasa and Flickr are a series of incredible images….!

Silverbills at Bannerghatta

August 20, 2007

Here’s my image of these beautiful little birds, the Silverbills, at Bannerghatta forest area yesterday:

silverbills at Bannerghatta 180807

Here’s amoghavarsha‘s pic (with a slightly different background but taken at the same time)

http://amoghavarsha.livejournal.com/88699.html

Definitely brings home to the viewer the way post-processing can improve an image. I shoot in jpeg, because to me, the content of the photo is still more important, and also, post-processing is very time-consuming, and I want to post my pics immediately. Even the delay on being able to post my last lot of Lake Manyara pics to Flickr is tough for me!

So that shows why I am an *adequate* photographer while others are *good*! But I think I am happy in my comfortable mediocrity…I am no Margaret Bourke-White!