One Reason Why You Should Do Post-processing

I have recently posted the above image in another post. I think it is a good example to illustrate why post-processing would benefit this photo.

I have always been an advocate for image post-processing. It is well known that digital cameras are not perfect and the image straight out from the camera may not be ideal. The above picture is a good example, mainly because the dynamic range is very wide. Let’s see a photo taken at ISO 100 with auto-exposure in aperture priority mode.

You can see clearly that the sky was completely white and washed out with no detail at all. Now we can always adjust the settings in the camera and try a get a better photo. I then turned on High Tone Priority, which is a function that should preserve highlight details better and also adjusted exposure by -2/3EV as a step to preserve more highlight details. This is what I did in the following photo.

This photo now clearly showed a little bit of detail in the sky, but still not ideal or what I actually saw with my eyes when I was there.

With post-processing, we can improve to photo and bring back details in the sky. There are many ways of doing this, masking, graduated mask, Shadows and Highlights or dodge and burn technique….. It does not matter which technique you use, so long as it works well.

So we see the final post-processed photo again. Post-processing has brought back the details in the sky and made the photo more interesting and pleasing.

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2 thoughts on “One Reason Why You Should Do Post-processing

  1. I guess an ND Grad would have saved you some processing time as well. How far do you push the processing in either curves or levels in terms of clipping?

    • Hi Paul,

      Yes, of course ND graduated filter may help in shooting such a photo. However, graduated filters are usually quite cumbersome to carry and good quality ones are not cheap either. It also takes time to put on the filter and setup to take the shot. For casual shooting, I think most people will not carry or use a graduated filter. This is when post-processing can come to the rescue. It actually did not take me long to process a shot like the one above. Only a minute or two.

      I didn’t actually use Curves of Levels to process the shot. Besides some preliminary adjustment in RAW processor (I use Capture One Pro), mainly just exposure, contrast and Highlight recovery, I mainly use Shadows and Highlights in Photoshop to achieve the desired effect. I do look at the Histogram during adjustment to keep the Highlight and Shadow area as close to the right and left side as possible without any actual clipping. Of course I also adjust be “eye” as well. What looks good on the histogram may not look good in real life.

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