Yesterday evening I was giving a talk and talking briefly about the picture editing process. As photographers we like to look at our captured pictures as soon as we get home from a shoot which only goes to show our enthusiasm for our art and craft.
We can be easily lulled into a false sense of insecurity by selecting those pictures with immediate impact and processing them for sharing them with others or printing or whatever we do with our particular pictures whether we are a professional or amateur. The professional will have a urgent need to put the proofs in front of the client as quickly as possible.
The amateur however doesn’t have that time constraint and pressure, it can be very good thing to allow a period of grace between taking the pictures and then editing for post-processing. That period of grace is a time of maturation when the pictures which we have taken mature on our hard disks. The files do not actually change but our perception of them does.
When we leave our pictures for a while we lose the immediate effect of what we think we’ve done, the excitement and emotion which we had at the picture taking stage. We forget about the other sensory inputs that we’ve had as we pressed the shutter release such as the how the wind blew, the fragrance of flowers that were there, what we heard – birdsong etc etc.
All other sensory input apart from the visual gets lost over a period of time. What is left in the end is the file – the actual values of brightness in front of the camera lens because that’s all the camera can record – brightness. It doesn’t have any emotional sense such as memory or a pool of photographic templates to which it has to conform. Cameras have no emotional intelligence, memory, perception or awareness – that’s your job as the photographer.
This period of grace leaves us in the end with the cold facts of what we actually did without romanticism or what we thought we did at the taking stage. It allows us to see things as they really are for good or ill. Occasionally after shoot when I look at the pictures I will be disappointed with what I’ve done. Then perhaps I will look at them again after awhile months or maybe years later, and then I can truly see them for what they are – good or bad and in some very rare cases masterpieces appear, in most other cases not.
So it’s probably wise not to delete files straight away off of your hard drive by allow them to mature for months or years and then come back to them later with a clear head and insightful vision that isn’t marred by the excitement of the day.
The shot above was taken at Ingleborough Common in North Yorkshire in April 2013. Its been sitting and maturing on my external hard drive for six months.
Lots of people like to see the before and the after pictures and so this is an example. It just gives you the bare facts of where I started in Lightroom so my files are no different to yours in that respect.
Unprocessed raw files are fairly unimpressive beasts however they have huge potential for being processed in any way you can imagine. Awareness and perception are key factors long before the mechanics of pressing buttons on a computer keyboard is involved.
If you can not see a potential final image or recognize a problem, how will you be able to create it or fix it?
A free top tip – make a Post Processing Plan for the picture you want to enhance BEFORE you move ANY sliders.
A big hello to a new followers on my little blog this week.
(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2013