Sunday, 12 June 2011

What is "post processing."  A very basic look at a secret art.

This is high on some professionals "to-do-after-the-shoot" list. In fact, it is probably on nearly all professionals to-do list.
So what is it, how long does it take, and why do it at all?

Post processing is often a necessity, not always, but often.
It may be used to correct minor errors in a picture, for example:
Fine colour adjustments
Sharpness adjustments,
Straightening, etc.
It's true to say that usually  these adjustments are minor, simple and quick, though if you've just shot 1000+ pictures at an event, be prepared for this simple, quick, job to take hours on end!
Q/Why do it?
A/Because images can vary so easily. Colours may not be 100% accurate from the camera depending on a multitude of factors. Sharpness, (or perceived sharpness), also varies. There are many other reasons, too.
Heavy duty post processing may, or may not, be the photographers job. Sometimes, often in fact, the images shot by the photographer will be rearranged to suit a specific format, layout or style, by a designer/art-director. This heavy-duty work may involve cutting around the intricate shapes in an image to place them onto layers, or making other major changes. This may take days per image!
Of course, post-processing can mean something else entirely. It can mean "adding artistic impression to an image". This is a highly individual task which can take hours, days or weeks!!
Post processing could also be said to include resolution and file type decisions, (dictated by the client). Should the images be ready for web use, newsletters, posters? As JPG, TIF, PSD, EPS, PDF?
What software is most often used?
Adobe Photoshop. Nearly everyone I know uses it. It isn't cheap, and your computer needs to be pretty up to date, but it's "the industry standard." You can, of course, use other software, a programme (which is FREE), called "The Gimp" is an excellent choice. Don't expect any decent editing software to be easy to use though. It isn't.
Actually shooting the image is about 40% of the technical work, (ignoring the business side, for now). Post and prep is another 60%.

On an a legal note, I should also add "Don't use pirated software ever, for anything." But, pro's don't anyway. . . . . .

I barely skimmed the suface here, I know that. But I hope that to some, this may clear a little of the techno fog generated by forums etc.