Is there any value of Unedited Photographs ?

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TPF Noob!
Mar 24, 2022
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Hi All,

I recently started photography and got a DSLR.
I have been following a lot of channel on YouTube and forums like this about photography and realized that taking photo is just the tip of Iceberg, and you HAVE TO KNOW EDITING to make it presentable.

I have no grudge with editing and infact amazed how talented people are out there who know PS and Lightroom that well but then is there any forum/platform where the actual raw(not the format) and unaltered pics are appreciated or considered.

Or is it just me who wasn't aware that before even getting a camera, I should have learned PS.
For me, editing is all part of the fun of photography. I use Photoshop Elements 20 + a few other smaller programs. I must add it takes a long while to get into Photoshop but when you do it's great fun....Good luck.....
I have no grudge with editing and infact amazed how talented people are out there who know PS and Lightroom that well but then is there any forum/platform where the actual raw(not the format) and unaltered pics are appreciated or considered.

Or is it just me who wasn't aware that before even getting a camera, I should have learned PS.

There's nothing that says you have to edit an image. Set your camera to save as JPEG and shoot away. Even if you edit, the closer you get to an SOOC image the less time required in post. I don't enjoy time in post correcting things that should have been corrected before I snapped the shutter.
I agree with Smoke, if you’re not going to edit then shoot in jpeg so the camera sharpens. Unedited raw files are just not attractive.

You could start your own thread in the Themes forum and call it Unedited or Straight Outta Camera (If you want to be cute). It would be interesting to me, who edits 99.9999% of my photos, to see what people can achieve without any editing. Hmmmm…I smell our next weekly challenge topic! Sorry but I’m calling dibs on Straight Outta Camera.
Hi All,

I recently started photography and got a DSLR.
I have been following a lot of channel on YouTube and forums like this about photography and realized that taking photo is just the tip of Iceberg, and you HAVE TO KNOW EDITING to make it presentable.

I have no grudge with editing and infact amazed how talented people are out there who know PS and Lightroom that well but then is there any forum/platform where the actual raw(not the format) and unaltered pics are appreciated or considered.

Or is it just me who wasn't aware that before even getting a camera, I should have learned PS.
For many decades millions of us successfully used transparency film for slide shows, straight prints and reproduction - what we shot was what we got. Shooting digital the same way, we have little use for photoshop.
That said, the more you know how to use photoshop, the less you need to know about how to use your camera. And of course, when you've learned both you can achieve much more than you ever could with film.
@SquarePeg there is one camp (quite large) that believes any image can be improved post, you have another camp (not as large) of purist that believe anything other than SOOC is cheating. I belong in the camp that says do what floats your boat. I think part of it is how you view yourself. Are you strickly a photographer, recording a scene, or do you view yourself more of a creative artist? The latter will never be happy to just leave it as is. The advent of digital has expanded the creative opportunities far beyond just the camera capability. However most forget there was editing in the darkroom.
Get the best shot you can "in camera" and then make it better. :encouragement:

You don't have to pay for an expensive Creative Cloud subscription. I'm another one who uses Elements, and I buy a new version or upgrade every few years. Depends on if some new feature have trickled over from Photoshop.

Editing is part of photography, just as much as going into the dark room and making prints, by enlarging, cropping, dodging and burning, were (are?) all parts of film photography.

Like baking bread, you start with the basics, ingredients, mix and you kneed the dough, then you bake it and that transforms the flour and whatever else, into a finished product.

Creating a photo isn't simply taking a picture. That first image is just the beginning of the process. I enjoy editing, and I don't use heavy handed techniques, filters or lots of tricks and tools. Others do that very well, but I'm more down to basics and adjusted real images. (most of the time) But again, some people are artists and others are interested in capturing moments or events.

Hi All,

I recently started photography and got a DSLR.

Or is it just me who wasn't aware that before even getting a camera, I should have learned PS.

Actually the camera and the photos are the right first step, learning how to make them as good as possible with the tools you have, lighting, technique, exposure, is the next step. And you're right, editing is next. But no you didn't need to learn PS first. Getting a nice DSLR and some lenses, and going out shooting, is a great choice for the first step.

Just a suggestion and least expensive one I know of for getting started. Most of the tools and skills, will apply to Photoshop or LR as well. Affinity Photo. Brief free trial and then buy it, if you like it, $54.99

Works very much like LR in that it makes a file and saves the editing and alterations, without changing the original. You export a new JPG when you want the edited file. Also works much like Photoshop the way the tools work and what you can do. Affinity Photo – Professional Image Editing Software

Or GIMP which is free?
I started my photography journey in film and had a full darkroom. I learned how to adjust exposure, change the white point, dodge and burn and even use nose grease to hide scratches and spots. Even Ansel Adams had his fair share of darkroom tricks. I do the same sorts of things today, but much more quickly and precisely digitally, mostly in LightRoom Classic. I have learned to enhance and create images in Photoshop that were absolutely impossible to do in film. The technology has evolved allowing me to be more creative. Why wouldn't I take advantage of that?

The roses are blooming in SE Texas, which I decided to capture yesterday. This is from our backyard garden. It is a stack of 8 images digitally aligned and merged in PhotoShop to overcome the shallow depth of field limitation of my camera and lens (Nikon D850 and Sigma 105mm macro).

Red Knockout Rose_3_23_22 200x1333.jpg

I wish you good luck on your photography journey. It continues to be an amazing trip for me and I hope the same for you.
Yes they absolutely have value and this should be your goal, taking a picture that doesn't "need" any editing. (Need is in quotes as this is a very subjective thing.)

Starting out you should try to get it right in camera, that way you will learn exactly how your camera works and how you can make it do what you want.

I've been doing this a long time and still not very good with PS or LR. Almost 50 years in and I just bought my first copy of PS/LR last year. So no you don't need to learn PS first. And IMHO shouldn't.

I use LR mostly to make minor adjustments in cropping, contrast, exposure and color balance. (Sometimes stacking for macro or astro shot, which I'm still learning, and still not very good at.) Vast majority of my "edits" take less than 5 minutes, I consider them more of a light touch up than an edit. And I've only used PS three times, didn't like it and went back to LR, LR being more of a digital darkroom than anything. PS is more of a graphic arts tool, for me anyway, not very useful on photographs. (I spent too many years in an old school darkroom in the film days I guess.)

Think of editing as an addition to the photo, instead of something you need to fix a photo.
First, I would need your definition of 'value' in order to answer your question.

Is 'value' defined as "Lookie what I did!", or is it monetary... as in "This image is worth more on the open market because I didn't edit it."?

When I sell an image, the customer never asks about, ergo is not interested in, whether I edited the image or not. The end goal is to produce an image that satisfies the criteria set forth by the photographer.

If that criteria is personal satisfaction, and you take a photo that doesn't need editing while you're still happy with it, then yes, it has value.

If the value is based on dollar signs, then yes,... my unedited images definitely have value as I have been approached by potential customers who have perused my portfolio, didn't find what they were looking for, asked if I had a particular image.. and paid me for an image I took but didn't even bother to edit in post because I didn't think it was marketable. But I do on occasion go back through my archives, locate an un-rated/un-starred file... and sell them.
Hopefully, you knew what you were saying with it or what inspired you before you pressed the shutter and you had a vision for the shot that matched it. Post processing enables you to perfect that vision. Ansel Adams, who was a pianist, described the negative or the capture as the score, the print or digitally the final edit, the performance. Lots of people can play the notes of a song but with no heart or soul. But the real musical artist lets his heart transform the sheet music. Ansel did dozens of modifications in printing. Cartier-Bresson said a great image happens when the eye, the mind and the heart come together to produce the image. Today, that includes post processing. Don't let those who think a photo must only ape what is in front of the camera refuse to acknowledge the hard fought place of photography as an art form. From day one, photographers were criticised by painters as either being too lazy or incapable of painting so they just use a machine. But since both attempt to render a 3 dimensional reality in 2 dimensions, many of the techniques are in common. If you don't know those techniques, composition, lighting, etc then you won't be aware of what could be done to perfect the image. Learn what makes a great image and that knowledge will guide your post processing and even capturing for it. Outside of photojournalism, there is no photo god issuing any commandment that post processing is a sin. It is part of the process from capture to print. There is a huge difference between picking up a point and shoot camera and just snapping from where you are standing compared to knowing what inspired you to take the photo, what you are saying then using all the choices you have for camera distance/height, lens selection cropping a portion of reality, depth of field perhaps to isolate subject, how light falls on subject. In post you may want to emphasize the sharp subject by making it the area of highest contrast brightening only that area. You may want to down play parts darkening them. Post PERFECTS your vision. Again, it is important you have one before clicking the shutter. A great image is one that has a powerful message or inspiration, is well composed and well lit. Study composition and how the camera and lenses effect it, and where to put things in the frame. Like musicians, we work in energy, them in sound energy, us in light energy. So learn light. Be it Bob, the big orange ball or other sources. But often the light handed you is crap so learn to know when and where to find good light. There is a reason when I load my jeep for a location shoot, it is loaded to the roof with lighting gear. Yes, the camera will give you a "recognizable image" but if you want more, then learning the above will be important.
I tend to like getting the photo as good as I can when I shoot it, I tend to crop it later, I don't always want everything that's in frame from the beginning, but just don't have a lens that gives me the right frame size from the position that I want to have the camera. Another thing I learned when I started cropping is that, sometimes aspect ratio is important to you. How do you want this photo to be view. On the other hand, I started shooting with a 28mm because I'm a person who likes having all of the context I can get for everything. This was a mistake. Once I learned how to use a 50mm lens, it became my favorite, and I only use the 28mm when the wider field of view is really beneficial. Now, I don't mind cropping or tilting, but I'm not one of these post processing artistes who will remove light polls from a photo just because it got in the way of the perfect angle, I'd rather just find the second best angle that doesn't have a light poll in the way. I'd feel a little bit like Stalin if I were to "air brush" a light poll out of "history." Sometimes and uncropped image can be great, but sometimes, I just want to take off the side of the frame, and sometimes I just want the picture to have a little more of a blue hue to it to make it look how I remember the scene rather than how the scene really looked.

On the other hand, if your taking a photo for scientific purposes, I don't think anyone want's you to edit stuff out. that's data, keep it. Often scientific photos that have some editing: cropping, exposure adjustments, color shifts, brightness changes, etc. will be presented, but the unedited version will be presented for 3rd parties to review for themselves. Make adjustments can make it easier to narrow down the data that you're looking at, but you may miss something important by doing so. Scientific photos aren't typically intended as art though.

(The paragraph that actually may answer your question directly-ish)
I generally don't do anything beyond cropping and tilting, unless I have a very specific look that I want which is not achievable through the lens. But I do think it's cool, and especially valuable from a learning point of view to see unedited photos. What are other photographers getting out of the camera so that I can learn to match their quality. Once you're good at getting a good photo onto the sensor, then you can work on making it look like it did to your eyes.

Here's an story of something that changed my perspective. Back in the day, Kodak was making film with as true to life colors as they could, and they had the US market on lock down. But then Fujifilm came over from Japan and photographers just loved shooting their film. They said things like "the Fuji colors are stronger and pop better than the Kodak colors." Kodak bought some of this Fujifilm and gave to their engineers to figure out what Fuji was doing so well. In the words of my kinematics professor, the Kodak engineers looked at it and said "These Colors Suck!" So they eventually determined that the Fuji colors looked more like how people remember the scene looking rather than how it actually did look. Kodak then started adjusting their colors to get a similar effect. That's how the story was told to me, believe it if you want. But that's kind of like doing "pre-processing." so if pre-processing is good, how bad can post processing be?

This is a cool topic, because I've asked myself the same question quite a bit too. Glad to see I'm not the only one.

Have a good day, and many amazing shots.
This question about digital has been around for decades. It understandable it is almost always from someone who doesn't use lightroom/photoshop. Often when new photographers realize their work is no were near the quality of others they conclude the others must be "cheating." Folks don't realize their unedited photo isn't reality either. It's only a smalll crop of reality and then 3 dimensions are rendered 2 dimensionally. If you are shooting in jpeg, your camera has already brainlessly "edited" contrast, color, sharpness that is done in post exactly as you want them, then thrown away half of the information it captured. That's why a raw image looks so flat and why shooting in raw gives so much more data to work with in post. I always suggest new folks take a couple of Scott Kelby's lightroom classes, you can get a couple weeks free, he is a premier Photoshop guru and excellent teacher. Once folks realize photoshop is for more than replacing heads, oversaturated HDR or removing telephone poles and understand that it is part of the process to reach the image envisioned at capture, that is, if they did more than see a potential image and just snap a photo from there, then they understand. They start MAKING photos not just taking them. Most folks first starting with photography think it must ape exactly what is in front of the camera. Would they tell Picasso he must stop with all the surrealistic paintings or the Impressionists their not sharply defined and not realistic "impressions?" Understand that photography is an art form and that you are not using a photocopy machine. But if that is your goal, then you don't need a camera with aperture, iso, shutter speed controls and various lenses that allow you to modify what is in front of the camera, a cell phone will do that and is smaller and always with you.
Amazed with all the responses and really promotive and positive responses.
Thank you all for being polite, welcoming and genuinely keen to help.

First to answer couple of questions:

@smoke665 - Got a canon camera, thanks for the link, got one suitable for my device.
@480sparky - By 'value' I meant aesthetically appealing and what I understood are they do have more monitory value as well.

@Shinden Amazing post and thanks for the story bite from past.

@mrca Do agree with ' So learn light '

@SquarePeg Good segment idea indeed.

And thanks to all others, the intent was not to paint editing in a bad light, it's definitely not cheating rather a great skill which I would certainly like to master.

Actually I have been talking to couple of people who either started sometime back or are new like me and more or less everyone seemed a little disappointed that their photos never came out as good as the ones in tutorials or the "insta likable". I know one has to be persistent and it can't happen over-night but was looking for a website or forum or community where we have just the SOOB photos.
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