Aegis Photography

Post-Processing

Unfortunately taking a picture is just the start of the journey. As many of us have discovered, we compose a wonderful photo, then when we look at it it’s just not what we thought it would be. Maybe it’s over-exposed, maybe the colour balance isn’t quite right, or maybe there’s something in the shot that distracts from the main subject. This is where taking the photo takes a back seat to post-processing, which is a skill we all need as photographers.

For many of the images on this page, you can hover over the image to see the changes I made.  The original images are shown by default, while the edited image is shown when hovering over the image on a desktop.  On a touchscreen, pressing and holding will trigger the hover effect.

How do you fix images that just haven’t come out as you thought they would?

What is Post-Processing?

Post-processing is a term often called “Photoshopping” or “airbrushing”. In essence, it’s about making your photos look better than when they first came out of the camera. In the days of film photography, this would be part of the development process (and film selection before the shoot), but in the time of digital cameras, it’s largely software-driven. Hence the process is often called Photoshopping – Adobe Photoshop is one of the more well-known premium packages for editing your photos.

It is worth remembering that your camera records far more information than you can perceive. Post processing is about shifting some of that information from invisibility to visibility, or vice versa, making certain parts of your image “pop” and therefore making you happier with your shot.

This principle extends to removing things from the photo. Sometimes you have taken a wonderful photo and just find there is something still in the shot that you really wish wasn’t there. You can’t show what was actually behind that item, because the camera didn’t see it, but you can take inspiration from other parts of the photo.

In this photo, taken by Raymond Deans, the subject was just too dark to make out, so I played with the light balance to make more detail visible.

Another one by Raymond, and in this one he said he loved the shot but hated the lamp post, so I removed it for him.

But I Don't Want to Do That

No-one will make you, don’t worry about that!

If you want to make your photos as best as they can be, then it doesn’t matter how much you spend on equipment or how good you are at capturing moments, without at least a rudimentary knowledge of how to post-process, your images will always be worse than they might otherwise be.  Note that this doesn’t make them bad, not by a long shot.  But they could be better, and if you’re like me, that will end up being your driving motivator.

A common worry people have is that this ends up costing a fortune.  I have some good news on that front – most of my edits are done using the free programs GIMP and Darktable, so the only cost is your time learning how to make use of these packages.  They are without question overwhelming if you just jump into them without guidance, but if you focus on just a couple of things that you want to learn at a time, the experience is quite manageable.

Can You Help with Post-Processing?

Sure, I enjoy this sort of thing and can definitely take on some of this work if you want it.  There is, however, an old saying about the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him how to fish – I definitely feel like the latter is a better use of my skills, so if you want to learn how to make your images look better yourself rather than asking someone else to do it, get in touch and ask me about mentoring you through the learning process.

This photos was taken by a friend of mine with my camera (hence I am in the shot). Taking the photo into the sunlight washed out the foreground, so I played with the light balance to make it a lovely shot.

Some More Examples

I have edited quite a few pictures now, most of which are either taken originally by me or Raymond Deans, who is now using my old Canon 1000D

Hover over any of the images below to see the finished version after some post-processing (press and hold if viewing on a mobile device).

In this photo, taken by Raymond Deans, the subject was just too dark to make out, so I played with the light balance to make more detail visible.

I took this shot and didn’t like the way the light washed out the detail, so I adjusted the light in GIMP to bring back the detail that I saw.

This snow leopard was busy scratching the tree, but my shot didn’t pick up the colour and detail quite the way I wanted.

In this case the sun washed out many of the shadows that should be visible on the building, so I adjusted the light balance to restore them.

Conclusion

Hopefully you can see from this page that it is really good to get started with post-processing, as just the ability to play with the light balance using Curves, the hue and saturation of the colours in your shot, and the sharpness of the image will really make your images pop.

If you’d like me to help you learn this vital skill, get in touch and I can take a look at the pictures I am helping with.

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