Post processing: When to stop ?!

A photo editor is very useful, but it's like everything, too much is too much and editing or post processing too much a photo is bad. But let see my point of view about editing or post processing a photograph.


I shoot RAW and JPEG most of the time, say 80% of the time, the camera put the RAW on one memory card and the JPG on the other one, the only time i do not shoot RAW + JPEG is when i do wild life photography and sport photography because i need the camera's buffer to be freeing as fast as possible, and believe me at 8 FPS (Frame Per Second) in 3 seconds the buffer can be full if i didn't have a super fast memory card. OK i gain only 1 or 2 seconds more because of the fast writing speed of the CF card, but 1 or 2 seconds it's between 7 to 15 more pictures.

Good picture straight out of the camera
A good picture well exposed from the beginning (straight out of the camera) do not need post processing > at all ! © Patrice Laborda

Anyways today it's not the speed of the material nor the memory card which are the subject, it's the post processing and the more often nowadays, the over post processing, or may be i should write "the problem" instead of "subject" because when i see some images that i could not anymore qualify as photograph nor picture after being over post processed ...

No it's worst than that, in fact what some people do to their photographs it's called tortured, destroyed !

Why today, am i ranting about that ?

Because I see more and more people spending time post processing their pictures in a way that i cannot anymore qualify  those images as pictures nor photographs nor even snapshots ... and that, shocks me a lot!

What is a photograph ?

For Wikipedia it's a representation of the reality !

"A photograph or photo is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface ..blablabla...  into a reproduction of what the human eye would see.""

A reproduction of what the human eye would see" ... Very simple explanation no ?

The problem, nowadays, is that, it's very easy with the tools we have access to, to kill a photograph!

Many beginners in photography push the slider too far and think their picture become unique, worst they even think they have invented a new style !

Seriously if by just pushing some sliders in post processing you think you can make a bad picture a beautiful one, every single person on the planet will knew it !


A good photograph is a photograph which is good from the beginning and that is a fact!


For sure we might need to post process some pictures, nobody is perfect, or we want to have a special look, but at one point we should be able to stop, or, if the pictures is good straight out of the camera, we should be able to not touch the picture, at all!

But when people are retouching for hours their pictures in front of their computer, at one point some peoples cannot see anymore the "reality", they cannot see when to stop.


We all already saw those pictures so post processed, that the face of the subject is totally  washed, they look like carton, there is not anymore "matters" on the skin, or those HDR photographs which look like they was taken on a far away planet, totally unreal. By the way a good HDR is a HDR you can't see that it's a HDR.


To not be trapped in this path, i have my own technique, it's called the Picture Style.

Picture style
PictureStyleEditor from Canon allow you to prepare your styles on the computer before uploading it in the camera © Patrice Laborda

Do you remember, in the beginning of this article i said that i shoot RAW and JPG ? Why ?
Because this combination allow me to not spend too much time in Post Processing.


For example, instead to be in front of the computer and Post-Processing the raw, i have already the JPG Post processed by the camera !


Yes your red that > Post Processed by the Camera ! how come ?

I am working with what Canon call Styles ... and even better, Canon give some tools to made my own personal Style photograph and upload it in the camera ...

Do you see the thing coming ?

No ? think about preset like in LightRoom ...

OK now you see it. So when you have your own Styles made with PictureStyleEditor from Canon, and uploaded it in your camera = the camera post process with your style during you are taking the picture !

It's underestimated, disregarded by almost 99% of the photographers, but it's a huge time winner, the JPG are already ready !

So why i shoot RAW too ? We never know what can happen, so in this case the RAW files are here only as a back up and usually they go straight to the Storage disk.


So today i was looking at the pictures i took yesterday, straight out of the camera ...

I didn't add anything, i didn't touch any sliders, the pictures was good and good immediately with my own style, i sent some photographs straight out of the camera to the printer!

Why i will touch them if they don't need to be post processed ? Did you ever asked to yourself "did my picture needed to be touch ?".

Do you really, truly need to process your pictures ? I am sure, not so often you would really need it.

Did your picture reflect the reality ?  Yes !? So just try to not retouch it ...

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