do your eyes glaze over at some point during post-processing?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by william-porter, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. I had three different shoots last weekend—perhaps a normal weekend for many of you, but a very busy one for me, and of course I've been busy ever since processing the photos.
    And as I work, I've run into a little mental problem that I have occasionally encountered before. It's a kind of critical dizziness, where I've looked at and processed so many photos that I start having difficulty telling whether I'm doing a good job or not. It's not that I've lost interest in my own photos; it's just that I am having trouble seeing them clearly. Sometimes it helps for me to step away from my computer and look at some of the nice prints I have here, or to flip through a book of photographs by somebody whose work is very different from mine. The best cure would be to step away from the computer for a couple of days (or weeks), but I can't do that because the clients are eager to see their pictures.
    This is very similar to a problem I've had many, many times in my life as a writer, where something I'm writing has been revised and revised so much that I start to have difficulty telling whether what I'm writing is making sense or not. Ideas I said and then deleted are still rattling around in my head, causing interference with what is still in the latest draft. One of the things I learned is that, while editors can be a pain in the neck, they can also be very helpful, because they provide a fresh pair of eyes on the material.
    But I don't have an editor for my photos. It's just me. I do try to share things with my wife, who has a good eye and good sense and often sees things as the client will see them better than I do. (She keeps reminding me to provide color treatments, even of the photos I really like better in black and white.)
    Anyway, I'm just wondering if this happens to other people. I bet that it does. How do you deal with it? Do you have a head-clearing routine? Or are you simply so experienced that you plod on, confident enough in what you're doing that it doesn't matter that your eyes have glazed over a bit?
  2. Yep,
    Hypnotized. I have ruined 3 pots trying to boil water while working in PS.
    Never started a fire though.
  3. Oh, yeah, the MEGO syndrome. I suspect it's an occupational hazard. I used to get the same thing staring at spreadsheets. It's curable, though: A long walk, followed by a short nap, followed by a huge cup of coffee. Or, maybe a beer...
  4. I think it is normal. The comment about having to get away from the computer as you lose perspective as to good or bad is very valid. I think it is very easy to overdo images when you stick with them (eyes get accustomed to over saturated or too contrasty or whatever). Walking away allows you to regain perspective by seeing the real world--I personally avoid looking at other images and usually just take a walk or do something entirely different. Returning to the monitor generally clarifies if things aren't going in the right direction.
    I find this more an issue when the images are more interpretive versus the more straight forward ones. For personal work, I generally work an image over a couple of days and then come back to it in a week or so before I call it final.
  5. It's perfectly normal. It's exactly analogous to trying to do a multitrack mix in the audio world ... after a certain point, you start adding too much of each effect. In both cases, I keep a few reference pix (or audio mixes) at the ready to calibrate my eyes / ears.
    Tom M.
  6. yep - it is what tells me (other than hearing a scream from one of the kids) that it's time to get off the chair and back into reality.... for a while.
  7. I find it particularly helpful to get up and take a walk if I am having a hard time adjusting my color balance. For me, that is the first thing to go when I've been processing large batches of images (I retouch for a living, so 40 hours a week can get tiresome). I've found, especially when processing a lot of images for proofs in lightroom, everything gets gradually more green. Not sure why I len towards green... but, if I step away for bit, I can usually spot the color problem quickly and fix it.
  8. Yep, big time.
    The longer I work on an image, the less and less I am able to tell if it's decent or not.
    Often, just because of the fact that I've done so much work to an image, I'm able to see the care and attention that has gone into it, and it makes the image seem really better than it is. I have to bare in mind that the next person who looks at it won't know about the care and attention that went into creating it.
  9. Definately, and equally the sensation that suddenly you are not sure you are improving the image anymore! I usually need to go for a walk and get my eyes to focus on something that isnt my screen, ideally taking a camera along and doing a little relaxing macro photography on manual mode to test my exposure awareness. I try not to go over 3 images a day, doing 2-3hrs per image, but theres often not a choice in the matter!
  10. Boy! Glad I'm not the only one having this issue. Good to see a pro with actual clients admit this. This is the main reason photography and image processing is just a hobby for me.
    I've often wondered how wedding photographers deal with getting work out the door on a deadline shooting digital since there's no lab tech as it is with film to handle the volume of processing involved with that line of work.
    Processing my own Raw shots it's just tweak after tweak to squeeze every bit of color and definition out of the image only to torture myself at the end by clicking "Default" in ACR to see if the extra work was worth the time as demonstrated below.
  11. Richard Vernon says,
    Definately, and equally the sensation that suddenly you are not sure you are improving the image anymore! .... I try not to go over 3 images a day, doing 2-3hrs per image, but theres often not a choice in the matter!​
    I won't assume you're joking. I will just comment that you must be doing a different kind of photography than I'm doing. I processed a couple of hundred images today, and I'm not done. Ideally, I'd like to get it down to 2-3 MINUTES per image, in other words, I really need to work 60 times faster than you. My hourly rate is already pretty sad. But one thing we do have in common: Sometimes (alas) there's not any choice.
  12. William,
    a couple of hundred is a lot! That would take me a couple of months at least - unless its a gig or something that ive been shooting, in which case it is also 2-3mins in camera raw per shot, but for any studio work, if a shot takes as little as an hour, thats with perfect makeup and pretty perfect skin, then im a happy man!
  13. I'd kill to be able to process a shot in 2 minutes!
    Like Richard, even a perfect portrait in Photoshop can still take 45 minutes++
    Landscapes take me an ungodly amount of time. Sometimes days. That's probably more to do with my uselessly slow processing speed though, rather than anything else. Oh, and a good portion of that is spent waiting for lightroom to respond.
  14. Yep...I think any of us who shoot professionally (or not) suffer from this to one extent or another.
    As digital/editing began to gain traction, the workload for many of us was overwhelming at first. So we learned to not only lean our workflows; but more importantly, try to shoot it bang on right from the trigger, thereby cutting down on PP time.
    My situation may not be the same as others. I'm not concerned with artistic manipulations.
    I am concerned with color accuracy, perfect exposure etc because of my clients needs.
    Biggest problem I have is not eyes glazed over. My problem is not knowing when to walk away. My butt getting numb is a pretty good indicator.
  15. The three events I shot last weekend generated over 800 images. I have now reviewed, selected and processed them all. Took me two and a half days. That's a new personal best for me and actually I'm quite pleased with myself for getting them online that quickly. In the past I've often taken weeks sometimes to edit that many images.
    But I've been getting faster. Have to. I have nothing to shoot this weekend, but next weekend I'll be doing portraits and will end up with 1000 photos on my computer at the end of Mothers Day (May 9), needing to be processed. And those folks will lose their urge to buy prints if I don't send them a link with 48 hours. And even clients that you'd think would be more patient (i.e. brides) actually aren't patient any more, at least mine aren't. Perhaps they'd be more patient if I charged more.
    Like Kevin Delson, I'm concerned almost exclusively with color, exposure, contrast, sharpness, tonality and noise. I want to prepare the file to make a good print. I will remove a pimple if it's obvious. And occasionally I will do an aggressive job processing color—say, pushing saturation beyond what's realistic—in order to achieve a slightly edgier look. And I spend a little more time on black and white conversions than I do on normal shots. But I am not creating graphic art: I'm still just processing photos.
  16. Yes, happens to me and I'm not a wedding photographer. Sometimes I don't trust the screen or my eyes and I have to make a test print, take a snack break, cup of tea/coffee, go to the gym, whatever, to clear my head.
  17. Yeah, it happens to me too. However, I find these things useful:
    When processing a series of photos, for instance an event, I create a few prototypes that I keep up on the monitor, and then I try to make the rest of the work product appear similar to the prototypes. Having a visible end-point seems to eliminate the endless quest for perfection, at least for me.
    When editing a photo very heavily (e.g. as a piece of artwork I want to be "perfect") I will compare the result of the last 10 or 20 steps with what I had before. If the image isn't getting better, I revert back, make my final tweaks, and bring things to a close.
    Most of the problems I have are with regard to colors. Fortunately I'm doing more and more B&W work these days. ;-)
    Music helps. I don't know why. Perhaps it reduces stress?

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