Once upon a time, when you took a photograph there was very little you could do to change what you had taken unless you had your own darkroom. Even then, there was little you could do apart from sum cropping, or perhaps make it lighter or darker than the original.
A bit like buying fish from a shop – you get what you see on the counter.
Today things are very different indeed. Thanks to digital photography, and computer programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop, there is a great deal one can do on the computer to improve your photos in what today is called ‘post-production’ .
You can remove unwanted people, unwanted backgrounds, unwanted signposts, and without very close inspection few would know what you have done. Sometimes I think that’s not a good thing because one can get quite lazy about framing the photo to avoid some of the things you can now remove in post processing.
The computer can also make a sunny day into a dull day or vice versa, a dull day into a very bright one.
Photographers can now ‘play’ with their photos a bit like an artist ‘plays’ with the canvas until he/she gets it just right. I have recently included a new gallery, called ‘Artistic licence’, with some examples of photos I have been experimenting with. I will talk more about these in another blog.
Just to demonstrate how drastically one can change a photograph, I have included two pictures, the one on the left is the original taken on my deck at home. The one on the right is after using some of Photoshop’s very useful tools to remove the hideous blue deck post and down-pipe. Although I don’t like the background colour, you can see how dramatically you can now change what the camera can’t lie about!
When ‘enhancing’ or manipulating photos in post production can certainly be overdone. Generally, my post production aim is to enhance the photo to what I think the scene actually looked like when I took it. But I do also engage in some removal of things that spoil the photo, things that just could not be removed on the day by taking it from another position – like the kookaburra .
Once upon a time, the professional photographer would have to sit and wait for the light to be exactly right, or for ‘things’ to move out of the way, to get that perfect shot, today that same perfect shot can now be reproduced on a computer from what was, perhaps, a fairly average sort of photo. As long, that is, as the original is not out of focus, because there is nothing the computer can do about that. But for many other ‘improvements’, all one needs is the right computer equipment and the knowledge of how to use it.
Nevertheless you still ‘can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, so there is still a need to get the best light, the best exposure, the best composition you can at the time you actually take the shot!