The Power of Post-Processing

Full-time professional photographers today work alongside skilled hobbyists and semi-pros that have proliferated in the digital age. (Everyone knows a photographer, right?) To set themselves apart in order to earn a living wage, pros must not only be business and marketing gurus, but more importantly, master their trade and tools, including post-processing software such as Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

  • Can you “save” an image in post-processing? Yes.
  • Can all images be saved in post-production? No. (Clipping other problems can diminish your options. Best to get it right, in-camera.)
  • Can post-production mastery bring your artistic vision to life? Yes!

Before

To demonstrate the power of editing, consider the scene below. Here’s the image, straight out of the camera:

You may think the scene isn’t particularly worthy of being photographed, and indeed, there are a lot of problems with the RAW file. It’s dull, flat, needs sharpening, the white-balance is off, the colors are drab (all predictable when shooting in RAW). But on the upside, the image was properly exposed, without clipping the highlights (even the snow! Hurray!) and needed only very minimal cropping.
After

When I laid eyes on this scene, I envisioned the final result being something special. In post-production, I translated the RAW file into what I saw in my mind’s eye. The resulting image is among my all-time favorites.

What makes this work stand out? The colors, the lines, the contrast…all things that were absent in the original photo. That’s the power of editing.

Tips:

  • RAW files provide the most information to work with in post-production, as well as non-destructive editing. If you aren’t shooting RAW, I recommend switching.
  • Watch editing tutorials on Adobe.
  • Take at least one-workshop from a Lightroom master such as Jared Platt. Not only will it improve your editing skills, but also dramatically improve the efficiency of your workflow.
  • Shoot with integrity, as advised by seasoned pro Steve Kozak. Reject the “fix it in Photoshop” mentality; capture technically superb images on-site. That will give you more flexibility in post-processing.
  • Learn to use your histogram, both in-camera and in Lightroom. Avoid clipping blacks and blowing out highlights.
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About Holly Baumann Photography

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, a commercial and portrait photographer based in Central Illinois. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
This entry was posted in Before and After Images, Shooting and Editing. Bookmark the permalink.

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