Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Consider How The Photograph Will Feel When Post-Processing

Every photograph has a certain feeling. There is an emotion that each photograph convey's to the viewer. This is a part of the nonverbal communication of photography.

It's easy to change the emotion of an image through post-processing. You can make a photograph convey whatever feeling that you want. Because of this, you must be purposeful with your post-processing choices.

In the days of film you picked a film--perhaps it was what you already had loaded into the camera--and you were stuck with whatever that choice was. While there were some tricks that you could do in the darkroom, for the most part you were stuck with the look of the film. And each film had it's own look. Film choice was a critical choice! This decision had to be made well before opening the shutter.

Digital capture looks roughly the same no matter what camera captured it, but digital images can be manipulated to look like anything you want. This is a major advantage of today's photo technology. You get to decide after the fact what you want the photograph to look like.

The decision to make an image look a certain way--to convey the emotion that you want it to--is just as critical with digital as it is with film. It's easy to overlook just how important it is to post-process an image in such a way that it nonverbally speaks what you want it to. You don't want to create a feeling that is contrary to what you want to convey.

Let's take a look at one photograph post-processed with three different looks.
Restaurant Cafe (Velvia Edit) - Tehachapi, California
Restaurant Cafe (Polaroid Edit) - Tehachapi, California
Restaurant Cafe (B&W Edit) - Tehachapi, California
The same exposure, three vastly different versions. Each one speaks something different to the viewer. Your emotional response to each version is likely noticeably different. Where your eyes get drawn to is different, as well.

You may have decided that one of the edits is better than the other two. You might have ranked them from best to worst. You may have noticed something in each version that you don't like. I could have made 100 different versions, and they all would have a different feel, if even just slightly different.

Let me remind you: this is one photograph. This is a singular exposure. It's amazing what one can create with just one digital image. Technology is amazing!

I don't want to get into which version is better and why. Since each one speaks something different to the viewer, the only one that is "right" is the one that speaks what I want it to speak. Because everyone's life experiences are different, the one that you might pick as "right" might not be the same one that I pick. That's alright. Because this is my art I get to decide which one is best. For your art you get to choose.

The takeaway is that your post-processing decisions have an impact on the final image. Make sure that what you do with software to an image makes it convey the emotions that you want. Make sure that it speaks to the viewer what you want it to nonverbal say. The look you give the image is a critical decision and it should not be taken lightly.

If you are not sure what look might be best for an image, consider how you feel about the image. Remember what you felt when you captured the photograph. Think about what you want viewers to experience in their brains when they view your photograph. Let this guide you when you post-process your photographs.

No comments:

Post a Comment