How perfect should a picture be?

This is a discussion on How perfect should a picture be? within the Photography Discussion forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; As most of you probably know, I'm very new to photography. And have been thinking lately that most pictures that I see, are more the ...


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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2008
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    PHOTO EDITING OK
    As most of you probably know, I'm very new to photography. And have been thinking lately that most pictures that I see, are more the work of photoshop than the camera or the photographer itself. I understand the importance of photoshop and sometimes it's a life saver. But when does post processing prevents us from becoming better photographers? I'll post an example here:

    larger size image

    I took this picture of the parrot and honestly did not see the little leaf of the coconut plant until I got home, I shared it in another discussion group and everybody was telling me, oh it looks ok but take out the leaf it would look better. I posted also a picture of my gf, and same response photoshop some hair of her face, sure this will make the picture look better but it's not actually what I saw, what I thought I wanted to photograph, it's how good or bad I am at a program.
    What are your thoughts on this? Does every picture have to be perfect in every way? or is there some beauty on a natural shot?
    My equipment:
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  • #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    PHOTO EDITING NOT OK
    Thatís a good question and I donít think there is any rule, but I do believe it is the artist inside you that answers that question. There is no reason why after you post process an image that you can't figure out what I can do on my next shoot so I donít need to process as much.

    I for one enjoy working on post process. Itís really an art in itself, and I have seen some fantastic post work on this forum.

  • #3
    Administrator
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    PHOTO EDITING OK
    IMO, the majority of a photographer's work should be done in-camera. The better photographer you are, the less post processing you need.

    Photoshop may hold you back from becoming a better photographer only if you rely solely on post-processing rather than your photographic skills.
    Admin

  • #4
    Super Moderator
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    PHOTO EDITING NOT OK
    IMO, the majority of a photographer's work should be done in-camera. The better photographer you are, the less post processing you need.

    Photoshop may hold you back from becoming a better photographer only if you rely solely on post-processing rather than your photographic skills.

    Well said!


  • #5
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2008
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    PHOTO EDITING NOT OK
    Well, MOD, as you might guess, I'm not completely in line with this idea. But I'm not completly at odds with it either. I say you should process an image as much as it needs processed. However, I have not seen very many images that could not use some post processing. Nearly any photo magazine will at some point state that digital images are flat compared to film images. Nearly every digital image can be made more striking by adjusting the levels, curves, exposure, hue/saturation or shadow/Highlights.

    And you have to ask youself what are you trying to accomplish? If you're happy with the picture, don't ask me what's wrong with it. My perspective, is in part, driven by what I think could be sold as stock. I would not buy the parot image with the coconut leaf if I could buy another without it. So, as a personal souvenir of your trip to the zoo, it works perfecly; as a stock photo it's flawed (IMHO). The parot picture is a nice picture, but it has other problems besides the leaf. On my screen, the foreground is too dark relative to the background. The background is also too well focused so that the birds do not stand out from the background well enough.

    All of the problems noted can be fixed with Photoshop. But all could have been avoided when the image was taken. The better the starting image the less post processing will be needed. But even the best image will seldom avoid the need for some post-processing. So I agree with MOD that the best possible starting image is a good thing. But I dis-agree with the implication that you can reach such perfection that no image will need port-processing.

    There are some other things that rule how much time should be put into post-processing, if any. Let's say I want to sell stock photos. Most stock sites will tell you that the primary entry point for stock sales to mean anything is around 1000 images. If I have to spend 30 minutes to an hour to fix a photo that should have been properly composed and exposed to begin with, I'm going to have to invest a huge amount of time to fix what shouldn't need fixed.
    On the other-hand, if I can't go back and reshot something and I really want the image. How much time should I invest in post processing?

    If you want to produce family photo albums, then you might not need to do much at all. But if you want to be a competitive photographer, your Photoshop skills need to roughly match your photography skills.

    And this is the same discussion in a different form, that we've had on at least 3 other occasions. Ansel Adams was a wizard in the darkroom. PhotoShop is today's digital darkroom. Some great photographers probably didn't do their own darkroom work or manipulate the photos in the darkroom, but I'll bet not very many.
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