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The importance of postprocessing

10 Mar '15

written by Nawid Sahebzadeh |  photo © Nawid Sahebzadeh

When I started doing photography, I started out believing that photos should come out of the camera the way you intended them and any post processing would make the picture less real. However I soon realised that it is the surreal or to put it more plainly, the dream like state which had drawn me to photography and imagery to begin with.
I still encounter photographers who shy away at any post processing that goes beyond white balance, a slight vignette and some contrast adjustments. Some do it because they believe it to be enough, others are lazy and yet others have their own set of reasons. Which is all fine and I’m not telling you what you should be doing. However I think it is important to at least know what you could achieve.
Last year I had planned an autumn shoot with a model. But unfortunately on that day it started raining heavily. Due to my stubbornness and cooperation of the model we decided to still do the shoot despite the cold and wet weather.
One of the shots I took is the one below. This came straight out of my camera.
Once home I really dreaded having done the shoot in that weather. However as my model had suffered more cold than I had I couldn’t get back to her empty handed so I decided to put some real effort in making the shots usable.
So at first I tried to make it look a bit warmer than it really was. That was the easy part. All I had to do was to adjust the white balance and do some colour corrections. So far so good. But the result is hardly worth standing in the rain for 2 hours.
I went a bit further. I took a shot at curving different colours separately, which I had not done before.  Which gave me a warmer image without skewing the skin tones. I had recently began experimenting with adding light leaks. So I tried that as well. And after an hour of editing and experimenting I was glad with the result.
I had transformed a dull, greyish and cold image into a warm and radiant autumn portrait.
What this experience taught me is that post processing is just as important as the preparation and the shoot itself. Post processing can save so many images which we would normally consider as garbage. And not only that, it can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo.