"I want my images to look real" or "I don't think it is right to mess with pictures in " or the best "I get it right in camera so I don't need post" just a few of the statements I have heard about post-production.
I have been talking with different photographers for a while about post production. Many realize that post is an important part to the process, while others tend to think more minimalist about it or don't use post at all. I am not saying one way is right or wrong (well maybe I am), I just believe they are thinking of post-production in the wrong way, or they just do not want to learn the program, and are happy having the camera do all the thinking for them. Most people I have talked to that are against post think of Photoshop as deceiving viewers, or twisting what the camera captured.
Ansel Adams wrote a series of books dealing with each aspect of photography, the are The Exposure, The Negative, and The Print. Now these books were for traditional silver gelatin photography, however we can take the same philosophy and apply it to the digital workflow.
First is the exposure, this is where you get it right in camera. Make sure you have good lighting, proper exposure, and a good composition. If this isn't done none of the other steps will make your image any better.
Next is the negative, unlike Ansel Adams we are not developing sheets of large format film during this step, rather we are developing the RAW image. This is where we go into Camera RAW, or Lightroom and make our first tweaks. Checking the color temperature, adjusting contrast, taking care of sensor dust etc.
Finally comes the print, this can either be an actual print or getting ready for web. This is the finishing steps and this is where Photoshop comes in, here is where you have the most control to make the final image your vision. Selectively adjusting colors in the image because the camera didn't capture what you saw, dodging and burning, taking out troublesome spots that ACR or Lightroom just could not handle. Making sure your darks and lights are falling into the dynamic range of your paper, and sharpening for output.
This is how I look at post production.
Photoshop can be taken to the extremes and a lot of people do that especially when they are first learning the program, or a new technique (I have been guilty of it more times than I would like to mention) and usually after they step away for a while and go back and look at the image they will feel they went over with a particular effect then make further adjustments. Then there is also the people who like the more extreme effects there is nothing wrong with that, they just have a more limited audience.
|Richard Avedon's notes to his printer.|