Post process magic. A question of use and other things.


Been spending a lot of time on here!
Feb 27, 2006
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Long ago I became deeply interested in photography when my father who did his own film and print processing (B&W) and owned a side buisness, I was exposed to all the wonderful uber clear and super sharp photos.

As time progressed and I collected various pieces of camera equipment I had discovered that most of my photography was not up to par.

Additionally, I had no mentor in photography or that matter much of anything. I literally taught myself a ton of things in life on my own.

With that said, I was always upset that I simply could not get my photos to the level that many others who did lots of work could achieve. Then add in the poor pauper level of income I had for most of my adult life, left me with few options in things like computers, equipment and abilities.

So life goeas on and new oppertunities opened up and not more than perhaps a couple of years ago an epehany came to me through several hints.

Most of the photogrpahy I was viewing is post processed. When I read through a website a completely unrelated article on some local politics, a note was made int he discussion that many photogrpahers have to (int he words of the person making the statement) "juice" the images to make them pop out.

From that time forward I have been slowly learning more and more the curve process, highlights, HDR tricks and tips and a who list of wonderful techniques to get photos to look super professional.

So the question I have to those professionals and those who just play, I would like to know how much time (no need to list exact, or give any trade secrets) do ya'll spend doing post process to get the super fine images you seek?

Are you spending little, moderate or alot of time doing post process, and how many photos have you "saved" from doing such?
It's a metric I don't track. If it takes me 10 seconds to process the image to my liking, that's fine. If it takes 10 minutes, oh well... I still have the image I want.
I tend to shoot to process, rather than shoot for a final image in camera. That being said, I like anything that reduces the amount of time in PP. It's not that I have a particular aversion to it, just I get a limited amount of time at my destop, and I like to game so spending loads of time editing means less gaming time.

I used to spend quite a bit of time and effort in post to get images where I wanted them, maybe 20mins to 1hr per image. A lot of that may have been because I was also doing a lot of panoramic stitches, and that took a long time with my old computer.

Since upgrading to the 5Dmkiv things have gotten much easier. The camera output is much closer to where I want it to be, and I don't need to spend anywhere near as much time trying to get an image to where I want it. Nowadays I spend maybe 2-5mins editing widlife shots, maybe 5-20mins on a landscape shot. But range masking in lightroom has also cut a lot of the time I spent before on masking. Occasionally I'll get a challenging shot and spend an hour or two on it. The one below was about 2.5hrs over a week I think, but went though at least 3 full edits (thanks to the advice on here and especially to @bulldurham who gave great, detailed advice on how to improve this shot)

Lochan An Ais Sunset 01 by wee_pete, on Flickr

My workflow used to involve just about every slider in lightroom, now it looks like:

grad/rad flters with range masking
Noise reduction
Lens correct

I'll maybe add:
Split tone
A touch of vibrance

Then I'm done.
Maybe it's a hold over from my film days but, I try to get it in camera and do as little in post as I can. I find I screw up good shots more often in post than I make better.
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Using spot metering and watching the histogram keeps me mindful of contrast range and reduces hair-tearing in post--most of the time...
It's a metric I don't track. If it takes me 10 seconds to process the image to my liking, that's fine. If it takes 10 minutes, oh well... I still have the image I want.
Agree, I like to take the picture on the spot, rather than creating it on the computer later.

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