Thoughts on Editing Photos?

MonicaRuth

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I know some prefer their photos 'pure', while others just change the contrast or brighten it alittle, and others go all out. What are your thoughts?
 

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Trever1t

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Haha, the number one most silly topic! No offense but only those who don't know how to edit say anything about it. Editing is as much a part of image production as is a lens....well if you shoot raw and want the image outcome to be as visioned. Otherwise the camera is performing a basic edit and you have little input in the matter.

Film shooters edit in the darkroom...and nowadays they edit after scanning too!

BTW edit doesn't mean selective coloring. Don't do that again! :D
 

Ysarex

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I suspect you either misunderstand how your camera works or the meaning of the word "pure."

If by pure you mean what the sensor in your camera records, that would look like this:

$sensor_raw.jpg

I'm guessing most folks would prefer to see that processed, but any processing of course would no longer be pure.

I for one prefer it like this:

$hill_house_2224.jpg

Joe
 

Scatterbrained

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Haha, the number one most silly topic! No offense but only those who don't know how to edit say anything about it. Editing is as much a part of image production as is a lens....well if you shoot raw and want the image outcome to be as visioned. Otherwise the camera is performing a basic edit and you have little input in the matter.

Film shooters edit in the darkroom...and nowadays they edit after scanning too!

BTW edit doesn't mean selective coloring. Don't do that again! :D
+1000.. . . . and another +1000 for the selective coloring. It takes the focus off of the subject, which isn't what you want. Remember that it's a novelty, and once the novelty is gone your just left with a forgettable image. Whenever you find yourself drawn to something "different" ask yourself if it's because that style is legitimately beautiful or if you're just getting caught up in the novelty of it. Selective color is like the poofy hair and neon parachute pants of the 80's. Everyone thought it was cool then, and now they are all trying to bury those prints in the backyard.
 
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MonicaRuth

MonicaRuth

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Thanks for the input... I am a beginner (that's why I posted on a Beginner's forum) so constructive criticism is more than welcome. I don't know all of the 'lingo' either. I just meant on a personal note what do you like for your pictures? The one one the left with what I assume your referring to as selective coloring, i'm not quite sure i understand all that you are saying about it. Why is it a 'no'?
 

wyogirl

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Its a no because its a fad... kinda like slap bracelets. Fun for a minute but over use of the novelty hurts. It draws away from your subject and doesn't add anything to the photo. All I see is a blue shirt... its hard to focus on the face when viewing that photo.
 

Scatterbrained

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Thanks for the input... I am a beginner (that's why I posted on a Beginner's forum) so constructive criticism is more than welcome. I don't know all of the 'lingo' either. I just meant on a personal note what do you like for your pictures? The one one the left with what I assume your referring to as selective coloring, i'm not quite sure i understand all that you are saying about it. Why is it a 'no'?

When you look at the image with just the shirt in color, what draws your eye? For 99.9% of the human population, and most dogs, it will be the shirt. Is the shirt the subject of the photo? I'm guessing not. That's just one reason to avoid selective coloring. Aside from that it tends to be asthetically garish and is generally seen as the hallmark of someone still a bit wet behind the ears.
 

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Well, I think the selective color has been addressed/kicked sufficiently, so I'll take a crack at the other one.

Yes, post is essential, even if very subtle (which is usually the right amount). Here's what I did with your shot - just minor tweaks to bump the exposure, contrast, dropped the highlights, and then went in and added just a bit of sharpening around the eyes and burned the center of the eyes to hide your reflection a little (found it distracting when I zoomed in a little).

What I couldn't fix (easily) - don't care for the washed out portion on the lower left. I'm guessing it is some sun glare on your lens. If you didn't, use a lens hood. You may also have to go further when the sun is in front of you using your hand, a hat, or something else to shade the front element.

This all took at most three minutes including downloading, resaving, and uploading. But do keep working on it, especially in its subtlety.


sam%20indian%20121a by breckmiller, on Flickr
 

Ysarex

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Hi Monica,

Forgive my sarcasm above, I reacted quickly without first noticing that you're new here. Welcome to TPF. The topic you raise in this post is perennial and as persistent as a weed. You phrased it in terms guaranteed to push some buttons -- "pure" is a strong word.

Digital photographs by nature must be edited. There is no pure option. The photo I posted that's all green and dark really is pretty close to what the sensor in your digital camera actually records. That's what a camera raw file looks like without being demosaiced and adjusted with a tone response curve. As soon as those adjustments begin, even at the most basic level of applying that tone curve your photo is no longer "pure." The JPEG that comes out of a camera is a highly processed and edited product that has been run through dozens of software algorithms in the camera to arrive at that end result -- there's nothing pure about that since all those algorithms were coded by engineers who made decisions that determine how the photo looks.

Back in the day you could shoot color transparency film in a film camera and that was maybe as close to pure as you could get. You can go back there, but here in today's digital world everything is processed. It's just a matter of how much and by whom.

Joe
 

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Hi Monica,Back in the day you could shoot color transparency film in a film camera and that was maybe as close to pure as you could get. You can go back there, but here in today's digital world everything is processed. It's just a matter of how much and by whom.Joe

Ok, now I feel old! LOL. Thats what I loved about shooting Slides, you had better be smack dab on the money! I have to be careful now-a-days I tend to over edit for some reason. or to be more precise I have a tendency to over do saturation!
 

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I find myself editing colour negative scans to create B&W photos more and more these days. I still like to use true B&W as well as BW400CN film from Kodak, but find the dynamic range of colour negative film lends itself very well to conversion. I also like to print digitally from my scanned negatives and to crop as necessary via my computer, so I guess I am becoming something of a hybrid photographer. Shooting film and editing digitally gives me the best of both worlds
 

Ysarex

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Hi Monica,Back in the day you could shoot color transparency film in a film camera and that was maybe as close to pure as you could get. You can go back there, but here in today's digital world everything is processed. It's just a matter of how much and by whom.Joe

Ok, now I feel old! LOL. Thats what I loved about shooting Slides, you had better be smack dab on the money! I have to be careful now-a-days I tend to over edit for some reason. or to be more precise I have a tendency to over do saturation!

Yep, I've adapted pretty well to digital photo tech and make my living teaching it, but if I was offered the choice of bringing Kodachrome back versus tossing digital, I'd have to pause for a long moment and be very tempted.

Joe
 

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All images are edited. The question then becomes, "how much editing is acceptable?"

For "purists", the answer is usually very little to no more than is absolutely necessary to get the photo from the camera to a print, regardless of any flaws or problems with it. When it goes beyond that, they turn into snobs about it and say it's no longer photography. They pretend to be experts on where the line in the sand is, and are quick to judge others based on their own bias in that regard.

I'm not one of them. I have no limits, set no limits, judge nobody else's work with some preconceived limits or lines in the sand. If it involved a camera, it's photography to me.

All I really care about is the end result, not how it got there, other than from a technical and story interest point of view - I don't judge the end result based on how it got there. It either works or it doesn't. If someone worked their butt off and went through all kinds of time and effort and money, blood, sweat and tears, and the result looks like crap to me, they get no extra point for what all they went through to get that final result - it's still just crap. Likewise, if they had a cheap point and shoot camera on "P", shot in JPG with an on-board flash and did nothing else, but produced something that looks awesome to me, I don't ding them points for how easily they got there either - it's still awesome.

And when it's all said and done, I don't think it should matter to them what I or anyone else who isn't paying the bills thinks about their editing or their end results. As long as THEY like what they're making, I think they should keep doing it. If they're in business and their clients like what they're doing, they shouldn't care what anybody else thinks about it.

When others critique my work, I use and learn from what makes sense to me, and ignore what doesn't. I appreciate that they took the time and made the effort to leave their thoughts - whatever they are, but I don't take it to heart and live or die over them. I don't change everything I do just because somebody doesn't like it. They're just opinions from strangers who may or may not have a clue what the heck they're talking about, after all - so it's just no big deal.

My observations: A lot of people simply don't know what they're talking about anyway, especially on the internet, and even more especially on forums. WAY too many noobs think they're experts overnight because they've read a few things that others noobs who think they're experts have posted, and in no time flat they're passing around dumpsters full of crap information and opinions, while their own work totally sucks butt, which really says it all. I notice that they often fall into the "purist - line in the editing sand" crowd too, and I think it's because they don't have enough actual skill yet to make anything but the crap snapshots that come straight out of their cameras.

Watch and you'll see some that are always eager to critique and give advice to others, but rarely post their own work and, when they do, it's not very impressive. Some even claim to be professional photographers or ex-professional/retired professional photographers, but with the work they produce, it can be hard to see how in the world they could make a living at it. I think you should take their opinions and advice with a grain of salt - or maybe a whole container of it.
 

manaheim

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This one does come up pretty often. The insights that are typically the real eye openers are:

- Even "straight out of a camera" images are already "edited"- your camera makes a lot of adjustments that you're just not aware of, and that includes taking what is essentially just a "black and white" image and imposing color into it via mechanical means (it's complicated...)

- Even film photographers did "editing" in their dark rooms... burning in more areas here and there, and all sorts of other darkroom trickery

This question commonly comes up because the perception is that photoshop and other digital processing methods are somehow "cheating". You can certainly dial the cheating up or down to suit your tastes, and at some point the question becomes "is it even a photo anymore?" but the choice is really a personal one. There isn't a right or wrong answer, no matter what anyone may tell you.



BTW, I'd remind everyone that we need to be kind and gentle in the beginners area. K? K.
 

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Since you're a beginner Monica what might help you develop your skills as a photographer would be to think about how you're framing shots and how you're using space in the image, and noticing where the light is hitting the subject/scene at different times of the day, etc.

I shoot film and digital, and either way I do little post processing most of the time. There's a process to anything you create (for that matter there's a process to lots of things we do, even washing dishes and mowing the lawn); there are steps to achieve an end result. Obviously you have to get the photo you recorded out of the dark box it's in and into a viewable format.

I think as you develop skills in seeing a shot, framing and composing images, you get better at being able to take the photo you want. Sometimes I don't do more than open my digital images, look at them and/or print and I'm done. Often in the darkroom once I got an exposure time for a print I might be able to print from most of the roll with little else. Other times I may have to do some adjusting and on occasion I may have a photo I work on quite a bit. I think it makes more sense to have a purpose in editing - not that it isn't OK to play around and try out different effects, it is because I think that can help you learn what doesn't work and what does.
 

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