I’ve been kicking this one around for a bit. It’s going to be a 2-parter and I really feel it has some important stuff to consider.
I’d like to talk about retouching or “Photoshopping,” as some people refer to it. What I’m specifically talking about is the difference between intention and an afterthought. Often these days, with a basic knowledge of the software and a library of filters and actions, a common mindset is “I’ll fix it in post,” or “I’ll just ‘shop’ that out later.”
The issue with that mindset is that it does nothing to enhance photographic skill. Think about the 3 basic parts of an exposure – aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. With proper control, you have to sacrifice less for a fantastic image. Instead of having an over-exposed image, it could be sharper, less noisy, or have a deeper depth of field. Of course your specific taste factors in, but the point is not to assume you can “fix” the picture later.
Millions of people around the world use the same software. The odds are that someone, somewhere has processed their picture the same way. But, every single person has had different experiences. That why we’re different. If more of the final picture comes from the initial capture and less from post-processing, then that much more of the picture will be unique – coming from a moment in time that you and only you experienced in just that way.
This doesn’t stop at camera settings – not even close.
If you’re composing a scene and taking your time – then take your time. Move that empty pop can, brush that hair out of the model’s face, take a step to the side so that tree isn’t sticking out of someone’s head. Take advantage of time and get into the picture. As cheesy as it sounds: “BE the Photoshop before the image even exists.”
But…that being said. I’ll get to the point of all this.
There is most certainly room for creative adjustments. The trick is to think about the final image before the initial picture has even been shot. That way everything lines up. If a person is going to be isolated and put into an existing background – think about where the light is coming from. If they’re going into a picture of a sunset, don’t use on-camera flash. If the foreground is way lighter than the background, use a tripod and take a bunch of exposures. It’ll look a lot better.
Of course there are exceptions – If your kid takes his first step… take the picture. The moment is the most important and you’re working in a pretty short window. If a fly lands on your lens as you take the shot, well, you probably didn’t notice.
Before you take a picture, pause for a second and ask yourself – “Is there anything I could fix now, that I won’t need to later?”
So, here I have a selection of a few images that have gone through some post-production. You can see the initial (out of camera) file along with the final image. In each instance a handful of last-minute changes were made on location that greatly improved the workflow, the look of the retouching, and that of the final image.
Stay tuned! Part 2 coming in a few days.