How long does it take you to post process an image? Of that time, what amount of that time do you spend understanding your intention with the photograph?
In Vision & Voice, David duChemin says that the image that we produce is made up of three images: one that we envision, one that we shoot, and one that we develop.
To create the image that you visualize, you need to first understand your vision and then do express the vision by choosing how to shoot the image and make decisions on how to develop the image in post production.
The better you understand the first image and the better you can execute the last two images. And the better you are at shooting the image and developing it, the closer we come to what we visualize.
This post is about post processing and what you should think about, before starting to post processing. Moving the saturation slider does take less than a second. Cropping a photo takes less than 5 seconds. And post processing without thinking doesn’t help you achieve anything.
If you shoot photos without asking what you want to achieve and without asking that important question, you won’t get anywhere. Similarly if you start moving the sliders without asking yourself why you are trying to do move those sliders and what you want to achieve at the end of this process, you won’t end up with the image you want.
So what are the questions you should be asking? You don’t need to ask 10 questions. Asking just four right questions is enough. Here are those four questions:
4 Essential Questions to Ask Before Post Processing
What do you want the photograph to look and feel like? – Ask yourself, what do you have in mind, what is the vision you have in mind? Visualize your ideal image.
How should the photo be processed? – Now that you know what you image should look like, think about what specific elements do you notice in this visual image? Are the colors bright? Is your main subject at the “thirds”? What else?
What settings should you choose for that? – You just specified what elements you want. If the colors are bright, what settings should you change? Can you increase saturation? Can you reduce vibrance? If you want subject to be at the thirds, can you crop your image to achieve that?
Does the photo look closer to your vision? After making these changes, ask this question. Is the processed photo close to what you envisioned? If not, repeat questions one to four.
As an example, if you are trying to communicate a rustic breakfast, you should try to process your image to make it feel rustic by decreasing saturation and/or reducing luminescence. This is just one way out of many many possibilities you can choose to create a rustic image.
The point is that without asking yourself what your vision is and without knowing what the first image looks like, you will never know whether you achieved you goal or not.
Good luck post processing your photograph.
Photo by Corey Templeton