Advice on post-production corrections

Discussion in 'Education' started by alan_varga, Apr 23, 2022.

  1. Is there a forum that would allow me to upload an unretouched photo and get feedback on which tool(s) I need to use to correct something I don't like? Specifically, do I need to adjust levels, brightness/contrast, exposure, shadows/highlights, gradients, etc.

    So far anything I've read or watched falls into one of two categories: 1) how to take a better raw photo and use camera settings correctly, or 2) how to use specific features in photo editing software.

    What do I do if I don't have control over the lighting contrast in a situation, or I don't know the correct feature to use in the software?
  2. The Digital Darkroom forum is the place to go. Post the picture and say what improvements you are looking to make. Also give details of the software you intend to used.
    michaellinder and inoneeye like this.
  3. Thanks for your quick response, John! I'll check them out.
  4. Hi Alan,

    +1 for @John Seaman's response. I'm a regular contributor to the Digital Darkroom forum and I'm sure all members would be more than happy to give you feedback and advice on postprocessing images and (if you include the photo 'meta-data') also give you helpful feedback on your camera settings when you took the photo.

    As you said in your OP there are two separate - but related - steps in getting the best photo you can:
    - the first is getting the best out-of-camera (RAW) image that you can, the better this image is, the better any post-processed versions will be
    - the second step is to correct, adjust and perhaps crop the our-of camera image towards the photo you have in mind.

    My personal opinion:
    Not all under- or overexposed or blurry RAW images can be corrected in Post-processing. Again, the better the out-of-camera (RAW) image is, the better any post-processed versions will be. So it's worth learning (by experience) which RAW images can still be 'salvaged' through PP to be usable and which are too under- or overexposed (or too blurry) to be unsalvagable in PP,

    Hope to see you on the Digital Darkroom forum!

    michaellinder likes this.
  5. There usually isn't one correct feature.

    The missing step is deciding what you want to change--how you want to make the image look different. That was somewhat clear in your previous post, but in most cases, this is a matter of taste. Once you know what you want to change, it's possible to chose some tools that might make that change. There are often several, and they may have somewhat different effects. For example, if you decide that a portion of the image has too little contrast, then there are several tools you can use to increase it.

    I'll give you an example. I belong to two clubs that have critique meetings at which people suggest edits. Not long ago, I presented this one:


    One of the viewers suggested substantially softening the image of the tree. However, I wanted the image to be crisp and to stand out and had done a lot of editing do make that happen. There's one no correct answer.

    But once you decide, maybe with the help of other people's comments, what changes you'd like, there is no substitute for learning how to use the tools well. Some are simple to learn, while others are complicated or take a good bit of practice.
    rws, michaellinder and mikemorrell like this.
  6. Alan, first a confession is in order. Although I've been active is shooting since 1969, I have no formal training. So, I still am working on my camera skills and, although they may have improved, I'm still very far from the finish line. So, I do post work on most of my photos. However, picking up what Mike said, I'm fully aware of the old adage about making a silk purse out of an sow's ear. Where I use PP most often is in abstract work.

    In conclusion, I urge you to prioritize camera skills. Using pp may come later as you continue to improve on the basics Hope this helps, michael.
  7. Camera work and post processing can be learned hand-in-hand, side-by-side, since they’re both part of the same process of making a photo. The way I learned, and it’s stood me well, is NOT that post processing is used to make up for my flaws in using the camera. I learned that post processing work is part of the expressive process. As Adams said, “The negative is the score, the print is the performance.” No musician sees his performance as a correction to what the composer got wrong in writing the music. Same with the *realization* of a playwright’s script. Post processing is how a photographer realizes what the camera has produced, prior to which it cannot be seen by the human eye.
    michaellinder likes this.
  8. Why are you shooting in RAW? I think it would be better for you to shoot in jpeg initially to see how your photography is before you complicate things trying to adjust a badly exposed photo. You may need to correct how you're shooting the shot first. As SamStevens said in the last post.
    michaellinder likes this.
  9. Shooting in RAW at any level gives a photographer flexibility. Of course, it depends on the photographer. One doesnt need to shoot jpg “to see how [their] photography is.” One can do that by shooting RAW. Then, if you get some good exposures that you like, you have the flexibility and latitude that RAW gives you to post process as desired. I’d recommend jpg mostly to folks who want to take a picture and be done at that point, where the jpg software will have made choices and done the post processing for you. But even a beginner who wants to learn the complete process of making a photo will likely benefit from shooting RAW.
    michaellinder likes this.
  10. Very few viewers are going to want to look at an unedited raw photo much less start editing it to see what it will look like finished. That's your job. It would be better for us viewers for you to upload a jpeg out of the camera rather than the unedited RAW picture. That way we can see what the picture looks like as a completed version.

    I suppose you can upload both the jpeg and the raw at the same time. If your camera allows it, shoot JPEG + RAW to get both versions in your camera so you can work on the RAW version later if you choose.
  11. The OP is asking about tools to use when starting with a RAW photo. It would seem wisest for the OP to do exactly what they asked, post the unretouched RAW file. Posting a jpg would defeat the purpose, since a jpg will already have been post processed by software and the tools the OP is asking about will have been applied by whoever designed the jpg software.

    It’s actually quite easy to look at a RAW photo through as neutrally-defaulted a RAW converter as possible. That way, those who want to advise the OP on tools will see the original file. A jpg will already have a whole lot done to it, so those looking at it would not know what the basic RAW photo ever looked like.

    Including a jpg would merely show how some techie designed a generic camera jpg creator to handle photos. It would simply offer a software’s interpretation of where the photo goes. The OP wants to learn to do that for himself. Posting a jpg would defeat that purpose.
  12. Of course, as far as I know, PN doesn’t allow for the upload of RAW files, so the best one could do here is shoot RAW, convert to jpg oneself using a RAW converter on its most neutral settings and post that, of course keeping an original copy of the RAW file. Then, once advised, the OP can go back to the original RAW file and apply what he’s learned from others to his own desired taste and vision.
  13. Thank you for putting this so well. One of the most common and most serious mistakes many newbies make is thinking that postprocessing is just a way to compensate for bad camera work. I remember being at an informal exhibit where a photographer bragged that his images are SOOC, as though this is a virtu, even though some of his images could have used some postprocessing.

    Quite apart from the fact that the scene may not give you precisely the image you want to create, the conditions are often not ideal. For example, you may be confronted with lighting that provides too little contrast or that brightens the wrong parts of the image. Learning postprocessing (it really should be called just "processing" if you are shooting raw) is a core part of becoming a competent photographer--that is, competent in the sense of being able to create the image you want.

    A badly exposed photo will be just as badly exposed if shot as JPEG as if shot in raw.

    They can't, since unrendered raw files can't be posted.

    If the OP wants to shoot raw (which I think is in most cases the better option) and wants feedback before he does editing, he just has to render the image in a raw converter like Lightroom, using either the default profile or any of the other available profiles and export a JPEG from that to post here without doing any editing. The advantage of doing that over posting an in-camera JPEG is that most camera JPEG settings apply substantial adjustments to color, contrast, sharpness, etc., so they don't do a good job of showing the basic material the photographer has to work with.
  14. If the picture looks like crap as a jpeg, why waste time looking at a RAW file? It seems the OP is trying to run before he learns to walk.
  15. If the picture looks like crap as a jpg it might be because of the way the jpg got processed.
    For me, it's not a waste of time starting with RAW because that's all I ever work with to start. What I've learned about shooting RAW is that it doesn't often start out looking like a "finished" photo and to many eyes, RAW files would, indeed, look like crap. But, having worked with them for enough years now, I've learned not to stop at the beginning and to visualize the potential in the RAW file because it's not yet something I've finished.

    This is my last post on this particular subject because I think the OP, if they're still checking in, has received some good information on the question that was asked.
  16. I shot JPEG when I first started, as I had the misimpression that raw was much harder. Not all that long after I started, a cousin who teaches photography gently urged me to start shooting raw. I nervously shot raw+JPEG for a few weeks but quickly realized that I was never using the JPEGs. Simply rendering the raw file--e.g., importing it into Lightroom--takes no work, and the initial rendering is quite enough to show you whether it's worth keeping.

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