Depending on who you ask, post production can either be a photographer/artist’s best friend or evil incarnate!
Photographers will tell you that the best thing to do is to get the image right at the time of capture so there will be little to no need for post production. It’s a good rule to follow, especially for nature, wildlife, and portrait photography. It’s good to be able to take photographs that have a true-to-life feel straight from the camera.
Sometimes however, even if you’re camera settings are spot on, the resulting photo might still need a little tweak in brightness, color, saturation, etc. before it’s satisfactory.
Of course this “get it right in camera” rule, like all rules, can be bent or even broken completely. Sometimes heavy post production may actually be desired from the start of a project. Several photographers out there just cringed at that, but let me explain.
Say, for example, you want to take your shot of that pretty sunset, that cool moonrise, or that neat portrait and turn it into something completely fantastical and artistic. It’s still a good idea to strive for true-to-life images as a base (you never know when you might want or need that true-to-life image for something in the future) but Photoshop can be your friend when it comes to making art.
I’ll show you an example of this. For a photographer, I’m not personally very photogenic (that and I’m my own worst critic!). Like most photographers, I‘m more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. So, after much deliberation, I took one of the best shots from a series of self portraits (with a shameless plug for my favorite musician, Celldweller!).
It came out alright, but I wanted to do something more to it. I wanted to make it less life-like and more…well…artistic. So, I engaged in some heavy post production, adjusting levels, color, and especially contrast. I’ve been told by many people that my eyes are my best feature, so I wanted to showcase them by making them the only part of the image in color.
Art (and beauty) is always in the eye of the beholder. It’s completely subjective. The same is true for post production. Whether or not to do post production and how much of it to do is a personal preference. However, I do agree on one thing with the anti-post production team….Post production should always be a tool of photography, not a crutch.
Until next time…