Forums \ Help and Support \ Post production
Please can somebody help me and explain what the term Post production means in the world of photography.I see it mentioned quite a few times on diffrent photos,and being new to all of this stuff,ive never heard of that term.I always think they are refering to a movie production ,like in hollywood. It Post production a good thing,or a bad thing!Please explain it like im 10 yrs old so I can trully grasp the concept.Thank you kindly to anyone that can help!
The way I understand it, Joel, "post production" is any manipulative work done to a photo image in order to alter or improve the raw image fresh from the camera. The selective color you have applied in Photoshop to your images is an example of "post work." Other examples would be dodging, burning, sharpening, saturating the color, improving the contrast, adding filters (in software program), adding HDR (high dynamic range), etc. The "post" here means "after." That is, after the click of the shutter! Some photographers believe that nothing should be done to manipulate an image in any way. They might consider post work to be bad. But in today's world of photography I believe their numbers are shrinking. I believe the kind of manipulative actions taken to falsify, demean, etc. are bad (just buy a "National Enquirer" to see what I mean). But I believe very strongly in post work that is done to IMPROVE the raw image. I also see nothing wrong in creating whimsical images that do no harm. Photoshop is my favorite toy! Ansel Adams removed a huge white letter from a mountainside by dabbing some potassium ferricyanide to the negative on the letter and effectively bleaching it out! And this was before digital!!! And he would spend days on end in his wet lab dodging and burning from a negative onto the photographic paper to create a single perfect printed image. That's "post work" too! :)
Thank you so much Patricia,It all makes sense now.Pretty much anything done to a shot with Photo shop,like enchancing color etc.I think its a good thing as you said in this digital age of photography.The goal in the end is to capture the best shot you can with all the proper elements like dof,iso,light etc,so that there is really no need to alter anything in the photo. I really want to learn how to make your beautiful kaleidoscopes you make with some of your shots.I think its the coolest thing ever! Thanks again,You Rock!
One Christmas about twelve years ago, my daughter gave me an "Arizona Highways" photo workshop as a gift. The guy who ran the workshop was a "purist" and said the magazine would only accept slides in submissions, not digital files. At lunch he discussed the use of lens filters in photography and produced his collection of about a dozen filters to explain each of them. I though that was rather ironic and strange at the least, since the use of lens filters is PRE-production manipulation! Now, today, "Arizona Highways" is offering a December 2012 Photoshop workshop! ;) Go figure! Times have changed. Viva Photoshop!
P.S. Your goal of achieving perfect images requiring no post work is admirable. Even after learning how to use Ansel Adams's "Zone System," which is designed to improve exposure, I found I still needed to do, at the very least, dodging and burning. And so did Ansel himself!
P.P.S. Creating kaleidoscopes in Photoshop is so so so easy! The hardest part is deciding what image segment to use. Putting the parts together is the easy part. I would be most happy to show you how. Just say the word!
Patricia,I would be honored if you could teach me the magic of laleidoscopes!I would pay you for your time. I find it to be so fun and whimsical.It would be cool to take pictures of family members and just mess around and turned them into something crazy and fun.Im ready when your ready.:) But you most be xtra patient cause this is all so new,and I still have so much to learn.
That sounds like just about the funnest thing for me, Joel! Can you travel to Prescott? Do you have a laptop? Let's get together!
Hi Joel and Patricia (and anyone else who might happen across this thread) I would like to agree with everything Patricia said, and add a couple factoids about Ansel Adams. Ansel Adams is still regarded as a standard to which all landscape photographers are measured, for good reason. He was a genius at composition, and produced some of the most dramatic and visually pleasing landscape images ever. But everyone should keep one thing in mind: His best work was black and white, which is an abstraction (and therefore not truly "natural") because no human with anywhere near normal vision sees nature in black and white. Ansel did some work in color (I have a book of it) and while the compositions are great as always, the colors are not great (probably limitations in the film and processing at the time) and the drama is missing, because you can't use all the manipulations he used for black and white in color without ruining the color. Here is a quote from Ansel: "I think of the negative as the 'score' and the print as the 'performance' of that score, which conveys the emotional and aesthetic ideas of the photographer at the time of making the exposure." I have seen "Moonrise over Hernandez NM" - a contact print next to a modified print at the Phoenix Art Museum, and the differences are "night and day". You would notice that the modified one has a black sky, which is impossible because the sun is above the horizon, illuminating the gravestones and buildings. The original contact print is interesting as a composition, but looks pathetic.
I realize there are a number of people on the site who do not modify their photos beyond cropping and perhaps adding contrast. On the other hand, I've seen many photos on the site that would have benefited for some minor tweaks, and some that could benefit greatly from HDR used judiciously. HDR can be used in a way that the output looks quite natural, and is almost undetectable. The reality is that photos with heavy shadows do not represent what the human eye is capable of seeing, because the eye is a much better "sensor" than those found in cameras. So a little HDR can actually make the photo represent more accurately what the photographer saw. As with anything else, "best if used in moderation." Since we are all trying to produce photographic art, I believe we should be free to use whatever tools we have to produce the best images we can. Then others will judge if we've done a reasonable job of it.
An excellent commentary, Rob. I saw with my own eyes an Ansel Adams print of a mountain minus the huge letter which he had bleached out from the negative. The docent pointed it out to me, telling me about Adams' use of potassium ferricyanide. If you looked real hard, you could see the outline of the letter, now black on the print. Obviously, Adams chose to take advantage of visualization, which after all is a part of the process in the art of photography. He wanted to remove an ugly white letter from a mountainside back then, just as today we use Photoshop to remove pesky power lines, etc. I realize this may be a shock to Ansel Adams fans. It's like saying there is no Santa Claus and there is no tooth fairy. But in my heart of hearts I believe that Adams, a master to the nth degree (of the craft as well as the art) would be a fervent Photoshop user today. It used to be that you had to know: 1) how to set your aperture (f-stop) to manage depth of field, 2) how to set the shutter speed to manage show/stop motion, 3) what film speed (ISO) to use to manage high/low light situations, and 4) what lens filter (if any) to use to deal with fluorescent etc. light. Today's digital cameras do all this for us automatically. But they do not adequately manage extremes in contrast. They cannot think. They cannot remove pesky power lines. Most importantly, THEY CANNOT COMPOSE! Photoshop and HDR softwares help us to achieve the final results which we VISUALIZE! And if, in the process, we entertain or affect the spirit of others in a POSITIVE way, so be it!
Couldn't agree more. One more point along those lines, and I've seen it mentioned on this site before, even the best and most expensive cameras are fooled in some conditions, and, as you said, none of them can compose. It is still up to the photographer to include the correct elements for a pleasing (or dramatic, or whatever) composition. It may seem like a great answer to get the latest and greatest camera or lens, but each of us must work to get the best out of what we have as far as equipment goes. Once you've gotten the best of what your equipment offers (with a little help from software), if you still need more, then get more or better equipment.