Learn to view your ap­proach to shoot­ing and edit­ing as in­ter­con­nected pro­cesses

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

An of­ten for­got­ten aspect of de­vel­op­ing a re­li­able edit­ing process is the need to build this around your ap­proach to shoot­ing im­ages in the field. If a pho­tog­ra­pher at­tempts to edit an im­age in a way that visu­ally con­tra­dicts the look and feel of the con­tent of a pho­to­graph, this can cre­ate an un­com­fort­able mis­match, which makes their artis­tic in­tent un­clear. Shoot­ing ap­proach in this con­text refers to a pref­er­ence for longer or shorter ex­po­sures, brighter or darker frames, fo­cal length choice, shoot­ing an­gle and so on. All of these facets de­fine the dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion present in the out­putted file, which must be ap­pre­ci­ated when de­cid­ing how best to han­dle this data in soft­ware. If, for ex­am­ple, a pho­tog­ra­pher prefers lower-con­trast scenes, such as those un­der over­cast nat­u­ral light, then it makes lit­tle sense for them to make ex­ten­sive global boosts to con­trast. Sim­i­larly, should a land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher favour shoot­ing in misty con­di­tions, in or­der to cap­ture del­i­cate colours, it is not ad­vis­able that they add a large amount of sat­u­ra­tion, for risk of break­ing the tones of the im­age. The dis­so­nant re­la­tion­ship that these pro­cess­ing tech­niques have with the scenes to which they are be­ing ap­plied lim­its the at­trac­tive­ness of the fi­nal im­age, but also the adapt­abil­ity of the style to oth­ers in a port­fo­lio.

File for­mat is an­other con­sid­er­a­tion – while it is ad­vis­able to shoot RAW im­ages, es­pe­cially if you have the long-term in­ten­tion to ap­ply sig­nif­i­cant pro­cess­ing, some pho­tog­ra­phers may have to shoot JPEGs, such as wed­ding or sports pro­fes­sion­als, who re­quire large im­age bursts at high frame rates. Edit­ing with this in mind will help re­fine your process and re­duce file dam­age, due to over-edit­ing of the ‘lossy’ for­mat. It can be use­ful to learn to shoot with the fi­nal edit pre-vi­su­alised, as this will en­sure you have cap­tured enough tones to work with later; how­ever, dur­ing the process of de­vis­ing a style, use your shoot­ing pref­er­ences as a ref­er­ence. Ob­serve your choice of white bal­ance and base fur­ther colour ad­just­ments on strength­en­ing that bias. Then con­sider the bal­ance of shad­ows and high­lights – be­gin by dark­en­ing or bright­en­ing im­ages with shadow or high­light dom­i­nance re­spec­tively, push­ing your cam­era work choices to the ex­tremes, to see if that pro­duces the end prod­uct you en­vi­sioned.

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