The Importance of Post-Processing

February 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


Melissa Southern




Most digital photographs need some sort of post-processing in the computer before displaying them, whether you do that in print form or digitally. Truth be told, this happened in the film days as well. I once worked in a Photo Lab. We had to add certain colors to certain films to counteract the inherent cast of those films. The printing machine could make automatic adjustments for overexposed or underexposed film. In darkrooms, contrast filters can be added to the black and white enlarger to increase the contrast of the print. Colors could be dialed in on color enlargers to adjust for any color cast in the film or to add a desired color cast. Photographers could dodge and burn their prints to bring out details in specific areas. They could use special techniques in the development of the film itself to achieve a particular "look" for their photographs. In digital photography, the post-processing is done with a computer instead of light and chemicals, but it is essentially the same.


I thought I would show you some photographs that I took from a commercial airplane on a trip across the country back in October. The play of light across the desert was fascinating on my return trip. I flew from Sacramento, CA to Phoenix, AZ to Raleigh, NC. Lucky for me, I had an early flight and left Sacramento right around sunrise. 


_MAS8695_MAS8695 _MAS8696_MAS8696


The photographs straight from the camera did not look like what I saw with my naked eyes through the window. I shoot raw files, which gives me greater latitude in making adjustments in post-processing. These photographs were processed using Adobe Lightroom, though I do have Adobe Photoshop and use it regularly as well. 


I do want to make one thing clear. I do not support the philosophy of "I'll fix it in Photoshop." Photoshop, Lightroom, and other such computer programs are meant to be akin to the darkrooms of years past. They are not meant to save a horrible photograph.


_MAS8711_MAS8711 _MAS8711-2_MAS8711-2


I almost discarded these photographs that I am showing you without even attempting to process them. I do like how well they turned out as they were shot in a difficult situation that I had no control over. I could not ask the pilot to stop the plane and let me set up my tripod, etc. I had to go with the situation as it was given to me and make the best of it.


_MAS8721-2_MAS8721-2 _MAS8721_MAS8721


What I want to emphasize with this blog is the importance of giving your photographs a chance. If a photograph is obviously blurry or out of focus, then toss it. But, if the contrast is low and the colors are slightly off, you may actually have something once the image is properly processed. 


_MAS8738_MAS8738 _MAS8738-2_MAS8738-2


All of these images were processed through Lightroom in almost the same way. I started by changing the profile to Adobe Landscape (near the bottom of the menu on the right under Camera Calibration). I then used the Dehaze to add some contrast back in and remove some of the haze that is present in most aerial photographs. I also used the Lens Correction feature to adjust for the lens that I used, reducing any distortions and vignetting caused by the lens. I continued to process the photographs by adjusting the color temperature, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, and vibrance.


So, when editing your photographs, sometimes you need to take a chance on one that might not look like much. You may surprise yourself.


Happy Shooting!






No comments posted.

Subscribe to My Weekly Blog

* indicates required