What is Post-Production? Why would I want Processed Images?

posted on: September 17, 2010

Here are a few examples of images that have come straight from the camera, and what a processed version might look like. Since there are many different ways of processing images, every digital developer (or photographer) will have a different preference for the final result (as well as a different way of capturing the initial image.) These examples represent part of my post-production thought process, but are in no way meant to represent a "right" way of doing anything.

In the above image, I reduced the yellow tone to bring the whites back to a bright white so that the white linens in the room actually looked white and the pinks were more pink than peach.

In this one I actually added yellow to make the scene a little more surreal and the couple a little more sun-kissed tan rather than cloudy-day grey.

I decided that the expressions of the people in the background were an important part of this image, and the best way for me to highlight them and give them more of a presence in the image was to increase the brightness and convert to black & white so that the eye would be less drawn to color and more drawn to contrast.

While this image isn't too bad in its original state, it didn't quite reflect just how incredibly vibrant all of the colors were in person, so I added some brightness and contrast to reflect more of what it looked like in person.

As much as we'd love our equipment to cooperate and think like we do 100% of the time, there's always a chance that during a critical moment, a flash will under-fire or not fire at all! When images are captured in RAW instead of JPG, there's a much greater chance for rescuing a critical moment in post-production. While this wasn't critical, there's a pretty hilarious bridesmaid gesture in the background that's lost in the original, but saved with processing.

The original looks pretty true-to-reality here. The colors in this plant weren't very bright or saturated, but with some contrast and saturation this flora becomes spectacular and fascinating rather than easy to glance over.

Most of my clients choose to have me process the images, however I occasionally work for other photographers who prefer to save money by processing their own images. It can be pretty time intensive depending on how much the developer looks at each image, which is why someone who does their own digital developing might take quite a bit of time after shooting hundreds of images on a wedding day.

If this post was interesting, you might also like:
Should I get Digital Negatives From My Photographer?
Why Do Wedding Photos Take So Long?

9 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Anne - Great article about post processing.

  2. this was a great look into your process! thank you for sharing! :)

  3. Thanks Anne! Valuable tips on image. :D

  4. Anonymous11:32 PM

    Another valuable tip, set your white balance properly when shooting the cake, and you won't have to post-process the image.

  5. Ha- I knew a white balance comment would surface! What took you so long? ;-) Since my original is the RAW image, you're seeing what the camera sees- not an in-camera white balance processed image which would be applied to a JPG preview.

  6. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Thanks for this! I always feel I have to justify the time I spend on images. I shoot equine events, and people sometimes use the images to sell or promote a horse, so they want them yesterday. I'm often presented with far-less-than-ideal shooting conditions, and much post production is needed to make the images presentable. And yes, setting white balance is sometimes only approximate! I feel better that even awesome photogs still have tweaking to do!

  7. Such a nice job that you have to done. That really interesting and awesome photographs. Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. I LOVED that you let me process my own wedding photos! Nobody retouches my double chin quite like me! Thanks as always for being awesome.

  9. Beautiful photos, nice examples of post-processing.

    I need to do a post like this since clients sometimes don't get what I'm doing to the photos between taking them and posting/delivering them. I had a client say "don't worry about fussing with them, just post them as they are, I'm sure they'll be fine", in an effort to reduce the price. I just can't do that, it is not the service I wish to provide. If/when I start again with my photog business (taking a break from it right now), this is one of many marketing points I need to work on.

    As always, thanks so much for sharing!


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