Very rarely does the image come out of the camera looking as jaw dropping as it does. There is the before, or as shot and the after, the post produced versions of the image. Photographers, videographers and filmmakers throw around the phrase often, “we’ll fix this is post” or “we’ll do this in the post production phase of the project” etc.
If you would like to read more about the varying types of post production and all the other jargon that is associated to it Wikipedia has a decent overview here.
I actually want to talk a little about the photographic process and the discourse around what is the appropriate amount of post processing to apply to an image. Now the application that is probably the most used in image editing over the years is the much-lauded and also often maligned Adobe Photoshop. It’s so commonplace today that almost any image that appears too perfect is referred to as being “photoshopped”. Photoshop has become a verb, much like Google or hopefully one day I would have worked so hard that my name becomes a verb and you can say you “Rawled” the hell out of something. But I am straying.
But as many of us who use this application know, Photoshop can be used for edits as simple as removing a stray strand of hair to creating vastly complicated scenes that makes us wonder how in hell was that shot? It is supremely powerful and a testament to what amazing software can do. And sometimes being so amazing makes some of us cross the line from reality into fantasy. Blurring the curves of the human body a little too much, molding unattainable versions of the human physique and modifying facial features to create beautiful monsters.
All this is subjective of course, with each of us having a personal preference for how we like our images to look. My personal style is one that attempts to maintain a somewhat natural quality to an image. I have dabbled in creating fine art themed images, that expose a little more of my Photoshop skills like the before and after of the image below. I may not always have a beautifully painted Oliphant backdrop at my avail so I do the next best thing, I improvise.
But my general mode of operation is to take an already beautiful subject and make him or her pop. Make the image exude a bit more life by removing blemishes, lightly smoothing the skin and by simply adjusting and fine tuning contrast, and shadows and luminance, etc. Oftentimes the image speaks for itself if it is a good solid image, my goal in post is to make that good image better in as subtle a way as possible while trying my best not to stray in that fantastic space where the image becomes unbelievable, unless that is the desire.
Hopefully I accomplished that with the above image. What do you think? Too Photoshop or not?