My view on photo editing
“I was just wondering what the photo looked like before post-processing?” | “It’s fairly obvious to me that you have to spend a lot of time on a computer for an Olympus photo to look like a SLR camera” | “Half of the work in those photos is done in Photoshop, anyway.”
After the transition to Olympus, I had a number of interesting debates. Debates discussing the usefulness of the outputs, how much of the post-processing is required, or even how much the background needs to be manipulated to achieve decent softness. I was asked several times to present my RAW or an unprocessed photo. I am not of the opinion that an unprocessed photo is a faithful representation of photographer’s work. The RAW format has very little to do with what is happening right before our eyes. Personally, I view it as a mere data package from which, once at home, I extract my vision of the photographed scene and present it to the audience. I try to capture the maximum amount of textures and fine details enabling me to print the photos in larger formats. However, a lot of people perceive the post-process either as a complete change of reality (which is a bit absurdly showcased in the picture above); cloning a large number of disturbing elements; softening the background or replacing the sky and other coarse adjustments. I approach post-processing differently. In my photography courses (e.g. Olympus for Wildlife), I try to explain to people a number of things. Firstly, how each individual step leading to the birth of photography is dependent on one another and that without proper preparation, good quality photos rare. Next, that just by being in the right place at the right time doesn’t mean you will be able to take a great photo if you aren’t familiar with the rules of composition and how to quickly control the camera. That Photoshop will only get you halfway there as it’s just a bunch of tools that are useless unless you have a very clear vision of what you wish to achieve. My post-process loosely follows what precedes it – ie. carefully choosing a location, understanding of the environment and background, taking photos at the maximum possible resolution (I hardly ever crop photos), and lastly, having data that give you plenty of space to work with them. There is currently 340 photos in my Olympus gallery. Following several heated debates (both serious and rather merry), I chose for you a few photos that represent my typical post-process. This is not to say, however that every now and then I don’t choose to enhance a photo a bit more even though this is very rare. Below, you can see photos that were on the cover of magazines or otherwise published, internationally awarded photos and even a typical photo from a night walk in the woods etc.
Before and After (typical post-process)
This is what my typical post-process looks like. The photo in RAW is on the left (no cropping, no editing, i.e. as it came out of a camera). The final photo after my edits and cropping is on the right. This represent about 95% of photos in my current Olympus gallery of 340 photos. (As of March 11, 2021)
Before and After (occasional enhancements in my photos)
Here are a few photos where I felt the need to manipulate the photo a bit more than usual. The biggest post-processing was in the photo of toucans, while the others are mainly cosmetic edits and cloning of disturbing elements. These moments only make up about 5% of my portfolio.