Digital Capture and Post Processing

August 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Recently, in an online discussion group I was asked if I used any of the in camera photo editing tools as I shoot.  I do not.  This got me thinking about why I make exposures the way I do. I've worked in a darkroom for many years producing my photographs.  In my film days, the goal was to produce a negative with a full range of tones.  This meant shadow detail, as well as highlight detail, and some specular highlights.  Working for a full toned negative forced me to have a methodology that was consistent.  I did not use a lot of filters.  The Yellow filter was my steady go to filter, with the red and green filters used occasionally. My goal being, to produce a working negative that contained what I needed for my printing session.

 

These days digital SLR's are a wonderful collection of creative tools.  I don't think that any aspect of digital capture is without a setting that can't be customized for the photographer. If I choose I can shoot in black and white, sepia tone, and color of course.  There are cropping tools in camera, as well as adjustments to saturate color, increase contrast, adjust brightness, sharpness, or make a neutral exposure.  You can customize how you use the camera controls assigning personal functions you use frequently to convenient buttons.  Your digital SLR can be turned into a very expensive point and shoot, or you can be all manual control if desired.  In addition, you can save your captures in different file formats.  This assumes that you know how those formats affect the quality of the capture.  There also is a function called a shooting menu, and on my camera there are four banks.  I've assigned bank A to Landscapes, bank B to portraits, bank C to sports/action, and bank D to point and shoot.  Each banks settings are unique to what is assigned it.  I use the point and shoot for family gatherings, and casual shooting.  There is quite a bit to think about.  All of those choices are made and set up ahead of a shoot.  When I shot film, the camera I used was all manual, (not even a light meter).  I chose which film to use, and set aperture and shutter speed by means of a hand held spot meter.  That's it.

 

My digital darkroom consists of Adobe Photoshop CS6, and Adobe Lightroom 4.  These two programs will do everything I need them to do.  When using my camera I use the file format called "Raw".  This is a very inclusive format that retains all the detail and information I could ask for.  To make life just a bit easy, I set up my camera to make a simultaneous small jpeg "sidecar" image for identification purposes.  The Raw format I consider my negative.  It is not meant to be a finished photo.  I save all session captures and back them up.  I open copies of the Raw file and begin my post processing using a non destructive edit process.  I'll explain my method in a later blog, but for now the short explanation is that Non-destructive editing is a form of editing where the original content is not modified in the course of editing—instead the edits themselves are edited by specialized editing software, (Photoshop and Lightroom). 

 

When I edited negatives years ago, the process was performed on a light box, (a neutral soft light table that is daylight balanced).  My digital captures are now edited in Adobe lightroom which has a light box like look to it if I choose.  The photographs I've made should be neutral in color, exposed for retaining maximum information, sharp, and well composed.  I avoided any in camera special effects, filters, or processes, so what I am looking at in Lightroom are neutral photographs.  This gives me artistic flexibility for any use.  There are many choices before a paper print emerges from the printer.  I work in a way that makes me comfortable with the process, does all I need, is not overly complex, and minimizes chance of error. I have much more control now than I've ever had in a darkroom.  The materials and tools available give me unlimited potential to express my creative vision.


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