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13 - Why edit photos?

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In the old days of film cameras, we either sent our rolls of film off to a lab or we did our own developing in the darkroom. Either way, there was a process involved in getting the images off the roll of film and onto prints. That process is called post processing. So, whether they like to admit it or not, film photographers all post processed their work.

In the digital age, we can learn to post process our own photos at home on our computers. The question is, why would we want to do this? To give you an idea, this first photo was how a sparrow looked straight out of my camera while the second has been post processed to bring out contrasts and colours.



Is learning how to do post processing worth it? I think so! For your information, a digital camera is just a computer with very basic 'photoshop' photo editing software installed. The software is needed to convert your RAW files into jpgs. If you shoot jpg, you are relying on your camera and very basic software to post process your photos. As manufacturers want to keep everyone happy with the jpgs their cameras produce, the finished results are tailored to be rather flat and dull. I don't rely on my camera to do my post processing for me. I use an excellent computer and excellent software so I can do a much better job of post processing the RAW files my camera produces.

Another reason we might want to shoot RAW and edit our own photos is because camera sensors do not have as high a dynamic range as the human eye and simply can't get all the details into jpgs in high contrast situations. In this example, all the detail in the sky has been lost. The camera produced an absolutely awful finished photo because the software installed in my camera couldn't handle the high dynamic range and so the highlights are blown out and the photo is extremely flat and dull.


This is not an HDR. This was produced from the same RAW file as the photo above. If you shoot RAW and do your own post processing in a RAW photo editor you can bring details back into blown out highlights and blocked up shadows.


A picture paints a thousand words, so here's another example, Mrs Blackbird having a bath. The first photo is what the camera produced, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, it's just dull and flat. I opened the RAW file in my RAW Editor, adjusted the contrasts slightly, saved it as a Tiff, then opened it in two of my Photo Editing programmes to bring out contrasts and colour to give it more life and vibrancy. Took me about 2 minutes. Post processing isn't difficult these days because photo editing programmes are so good they can do all your post processing for you with a few preset clicks.




*under construction*

Being for pure beginners, this workshop is not a comprehensive Photoshop guide, it is simply an introduction, an overview to the world of photography. As such, we will only be looking at a few basics that will start you into post processing by making simple adjustments and fixing up a few common problems. There is a lot of software out there, and the choices can be bewildering. The good news is that photo editing is not graphic design and you do not need the full Photoshop CC programme. In fact, there are plenty of good programmes out there that will do to get you started, including a few free ones. You will need to do your homework and perhaps ask a friend for advice on what would be best for you. For my RAW conversions I use Capture One by Phase One, but there are many others you can look at if you decide to shoot RAW. Photoshop Elements includes a RAW converter and you don't need the latest versions. If you shoot jpg, you won't even need a RAW converter. For my editing I use an older version of Photoshop Elements 11 and Topaz plugins. I find that is more than sufficient for my editing needs.


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