The Evolution Of An Image

September 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

As Professional Photographers, we do our best to make sure an image is as close to "perfect" when we capture it in the camera.  That means that the light is sufficient, the composition is correct, things are done just right to make sure that it's "there".  However, often times, there is still a bit of what is called "post processing.  All post processing sometimes might require is some color adjusting, maybe some slight brightness and addition/subtraction of contrast to an image.  Sometimes it requires more.  For the sake of exposition, We're going to look at a test image I shot with my 12 year old son a while back.  I had recently bought some new studio lighting, and was wanting to get a feel for them.  I told him to go get one of his many crazy "hats"...he came back with a WWII style USGI Helmet.

Here is the "master" image that I shot. 

Not a bad shot...everything's nice and focused.  The lighting is pretty neat...the background is just dark enough to distinguish the subject from it, good clear shot.  Something anyone would be happy to get as their "portrait" shot...

Well...not to a nitpicky photographer.  Then an artist friend of mine inquired as to what he thought the image would look like in monochrome (black/white) and then I started to look at the image...if I was going to start "editing" on it, then there are ALWAYS changes that could be made.  Let's darken things a bit, let's clean up the skin (blemishes), lets get rid of any "distractions in the image...

So here's the image 'marked up' noting changes to be made...

Ok...Let's crop it to get a more "defined" image, and everything else...

Added contrast and darkened the image a bit more.  Still have to take blemishes out, and get rid of "distractions" as well as change to monochrome.

Here's the same image with blemishes removed and converted to black/white.  Looks nice, but I'm choosing to go with a more "historic" look.  We'll add some grain and a bit more contrast in the next pass to make the image actually look like an image shot on film and printed in a dark room.  Having spent quite some time with processing my own film and printing my own images in a darkroom, I have a pretty good "watermark" for what I want the image to look like going from digital to making it look "real".

As you can see in the next pass.  The image is darker, its grainy and it's got a nice "historic" look worthy of that old grizzled army helmet.

At this point, this image has gone through three generations/iterations from the "master" image.

Next time you see a photographer's work.  You'll likely have a better idea of what goes into it than just 'taking' a picture.  There should always be a "goal" behind editing a photograph.  It will dictate the philosophy of how it is edited.  If the photographer you hire doesn't have a vision or philosophy behind their work.  Find one that does! 


Next time we'll be demonstrating the difference in both quality and price of a wide variety of cameras, styles and work!  Everything from "Lowsumer, to Prosumer to Professional"! 


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