What’s in a name?

NPhoto - - Over To You -

The ter­mi­nol­ogy of im­age ad­just­ment is any­thing but con­sis­tent. We can all agree that it starts with con­vert­ing a RAW im­age file into a view­able im­age that looks bet­ter than the orig­i­nal cap­ture in some way, but there’s am­ple room for con­fu­sion in terms of what ex­actly goes on at what stage. For the rea­sons given be­low, I pre­fer to use ‘pro­cess­ing’ for what many call ‘edit­ing’.

Pro­cess­ing: this in­volves con­vert­ing a RAW file to a TIFF or JPEG, while at the same time ad­just­ing its colour, tone and con­trast (with a few other qual­i­ties) to your pref­er­ence, us­ing a RAW pro­cess­ing en­gine such as Adobe’s ACR. Pro­cess­ing stops short of ma­nip­u­la­tion of con­tent.

Edit­ing: can be widely used to mean ex­actly the same as pro­cess­ing, but is also of­ten used pro­fes­sion­ally to mean some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent – the process of choos­ing be­tween im­ages and mak­ing se­lec­tions for use, which is what pic­ture editors on mag­a­zines do.

Post-pro­cess­ing: a term bor­rowed from video, this can mean ei­ther the same as pro­cess­ing, or it could re­fer to the ma­nip­u­la­tion stages after pro­cess­ing us­ing a RAW con­verter.

Post-pro­duc­tion: a term bor­rowed from the mo­tion pic­ture in­dus­try, this is also open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion. It can mean ei­ther pro­cess­ing plus the ma­nip­u­la­tion stages that fol­low this, or just the steps after pro­cess­ing.

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