Post-Processing: The Beginning

Many people think that a good picture begins with an overly expensive camera. However, this is not the case. Although a good quality camera will be essential for one who is desiring to break into professional photography; it is never the only thing to consider. Along with a good camera, for example a Canon Rebel DSLR series, you need to have two other things. The first, is to know the type of lens you will need for the picture you are desiring to take, and the second, a good understanding of post-processing. 

I am a landscape photographer and I enjoy urban photography myself, but urban environments are not my style. In my opinion there are too many variables to contend with, such as lighting, heat, refraction, reflections, distractions, lines, etc. Too many. So, I decided to show you just what one can do with a basic knowledge of picture-taking, a cell phone, and post-processing. Yes, I did say cell phone. Many people do not realize the potential of their smartphones, even the older ones from early 2000’s, like Sony-Erickson, have! With basic photography understanding, which I will go over, and a good understanding of post-processing, I will walk you through with a ‘how to’ guide that won’t insult anyone’s intelligence.

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This is a photo of mine that I took back in 2014 in Seville, Spain. In is you see a man, casually strolling along a street and checking his phone in the heat of summer. Behind the man is the immense tower of the Palace of Saint Elmo, which is now the seat of government for Andalusia. Anyway, I took this picture with my Sony Xperia Z smartphone.  With basic understanding of picture-taking myself.

  • The very beginning to picture-taking is knowing the three most important rules to picture taking. These are:
  • Lighting
  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed

Simple. Nothing major. Now let’s break it down. The more light in the picture, the less clear your subject will become. This is especially important in portrait photography and landscape photography. Too little light, and there is not enough distinction between the subject and the object your are seeking to capture. In circumstances where you have constraint, such as this picture, you need to know how to control the lighting in post-processing.

The next thing is important too, and this is aperture. Basically, if you will, your camera is the eye, and the aperture controls how much light goes into the eye. By controlling the light entering in, you control the depth and focus of your camera. The smaller the aperture setting, the great the depth of field is, the larger the setting, the smaller the depth is. Basically, in a nutshell: large settings should be used in portraits, macro, various niches of landscape, and urban photography. The smaller the setting, the more depth and less focus in your picture which is good for landscape photography, for example, getting some awesome shots from the summit of a mountain.

The third aspect to photography is shutter speed. Again, I will refer to an eye to describe this. When you blink, the motion is just like a camera-the faster you blink, the more precise your vision is, the slower you blink, the more blurred your vision becomes. If we apply this thought to your shutter: the faster the shutter speed is; the more precise your picture will become. The slower the speed; the more dreamy, in-motion your picture will be. This is perfect for those who wish to capture the swing of a bat at your son’s baseball game, or the pitch from your daughter’s softball throw. The slower the motion, the more movement is captured.

In the above picture, my older Sony didn’t have the options listed. They were built-in to the camera options. So, now you know the basic rules, and one can say, fundamentals of photography. Knowing these, I make sure to put my subject to show perspective. I wanted something to make my viewer understand just how immense this tower was, so I waited for the man to walk into my Rule of Thirds before snapping this picture.

When I got home that night, I began to post-process my picture.

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This is the same photo but after a small revision. I post-processed the photo using two free phone applications, as well as Windows computer software downloads. This was done using Adobe’s Lightroom. In order to control the overwhelming light exposure of the stock photo I took, the first thing I did was adjust my exposure. The more exposure, the more light, the less, the more clarity and detail. I only adjusted a small amount because I then adjusted the photos details using two options. The first was clarity, which increases/decreases details in the picture, and the second was dehaze, which lowered the photo’s noise.

Photo Noise meaning is as follows: “random variation of brightness or color information in images, and is usually an aspect of electronic noise. It can be produced by the sensor and circuitry of a scanner or digital camera”  Unfortunately, all digital cameras produce a varying degree of photo noise. It’s through trial, error, and practice that one can begin to control noise. After I adjusted these essentials, I moved on to contrast. Photo contrast is creating a noticeable (visual) difference in photo colors and luminescence in order to make an object appear different or stand out from another. Note the tower is visually appealing as contrast was added to the colors and sky.

I then edited the brighter spots on the photo. These are known as highlights. Basically, they are the brightest areas on a photo based upon higher light exposure, or retractions.  I made a point to lower the photo’s entire highlight appearance as I was going to further post-process in the next app. After all these steps, I saved the photo in the highest quality available. I make is a point to do so in all my pictures.

  •  These last two pictures were edited in another free application called Snapseed, by far, the easiest and my favorite post-processing software to use. The picture on the left was completed using three options in the app. The first, was the option known as “selective” This option gives you the power to pinpoint exactly where you wish to edit your picture and gives you four post-processing tools within each pinpoint you have. You can have up to seven pinpoint edits per save. There’s no end to this tool! Inside each pinpoint are:
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Saturation
  • Structure

The first two are easy enough, but I didn’t know what ‘structure’ meant. So, I did what everyone should do, I Googled it. Structure is another way to explain high-definition resolution. Simply put: intense detail is brought out of the picture that your camera captured! Anyway, all I did on this picture was selective increase the structure of the tower, and the structure and saturation of the windows.

The next step I took was I used a tool named “Brush” In this option you can delete troublesome spots on a picture, increase or decrease your photos exposure, or saturate a pinpointed are or the entire photo, and the best part is, the application uses intelligent design in its saturation of the picture. All this is accomplished by a paintbrush icon.  So, continuing, all I did was saturate the rooftop, towards the sun’s rays, and the sky, including the noise surrounding the tower which reduced its imprint inside the picture.

The last step was I used a tool named “Glamour Glow” which allows for a glowing appearance inside your photo. It helps to showcase the tower and it’s colors better. In the picture on the right I added a vintage look to the photo, and you can see there’s a stark contrast to each one as they take on a uniqueness all their own!!

 

That sums up this introduction to photography! I hope you all enjoyed and I hope I helped clear up some stuff. In the next article I will talk about why post-processing is more important to the overall quality of your photo than some may think, and I will touch upon how over post-processing will ruin your chances of success in the photography world.

 

God bless,

-Anthony

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