Getting It Right In Camera?

Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Blog, Editing & Workflow, Video | 4 comments

Getting It Right In Camera?

I’m all for getting it right in camera. It’s important to learn and know your craft and it’s important to be careful and considered during the process of taking a photo, ensuring that every element is within your control. But with that said, the “purists” that love to post “undedited” shots or shots that are “straight out of the camera” really piss me off. It’s as if they feel, their work is somehow more superior than the rest of ours, simply because they didn’t manipulate the image in Photoshop?. But really… so what?… who gives a f#ck? I don’t care how an image gets there, all I care about is the end results. And if an end results requires some Photoshop work, then to hell with the purists, I’m more than happy to do so, even if that means I’m not as good as the so called purists. Take this image of Madame Bink as an example.

To get from the original image, shot in RAW, converted using Adobe Camera Raw and manipulated in Photoshop, there is probably about 2 hours solid work in retouching and post processing the image. All the steps are what I believe to be subtle improvements on the image and none of which are things you could have accounted for in camera. The images below are all mouse-over images, so if you move your mouse over it, you can swap between the original image and the step in Photoshop. Here’s what I did.

  • Clean Up The Wall

Unless the purists would be willing to paint the wall prior to the shoot, they’d be left with a wall that had sockets (could be hidden by positioning the model differently), blotches, lines, cracks etc. So my first step was to clean each of these up.

  • Clone Out The Door

This re-touching step certainly could have been avoided, had I been more careful with the framing so as not to include the partial doorway. A quick easy fix would be to crop this out of the shot, but as I didn’t want to throw away the pixels, I decided to clone it out. Actually I used the content aware fill feature of Photoshop to do the work for me.

  • Cleaning Up The Floor

I guess I could have visited the location a day or so before hand, got down on my hands and knees & scrape away some of the concrete, dust and dirt from the floor ❓ But instead I opted to give the floor a tidy in Photoshop. I wasn’t looking for it to be pristine, just a little less dirty.

  • Addressing skin

I’m not sure how the pursists would handle skin? I guess they wouldn’t bother retouching it at all? They’d leave the bumps, bruises, scratches and blemishes? They’d ignore the dust bunnies? They’d leave all these little details in the image, so our eye would get drawn to them? Well not me… so I resort to my trusty friend “Portraiture” from Imagenomic

  • That Damn Reflection

Having cloned out the door way, I was left with a “ghost” reflection on the floor. Initially it didn’t bother me, but it received enough comments from various people on-line that I thought it deserved a little re-work. So I painstakingly cloned it out 😯 This was the last step in my retouching and at this stage, I would easily have spent 2 hours working on the image.

  • Defog/Local Contrast Enhancement

Just a slight boost in contrast, using the Defog action from my Photoshop actions (free to download)

  • Sharpened using Unsharp-Mask

  • Vibrance

Increase the vibrance of the yellow and red in the floor and walls (not in the skin tones)

  • Vignette

Add a vignette

  • The Before & After

So the purists may frown, but I have no issue spending a couple of hours working on a shot (if it justifies the effort). So what if it’s not straight out of the camera? As much as the purists annoy me, so do the people that take images and don’t put in this effort, simply out of laziness. There is nothing worst than a great image made mediocre, simply for lack of effort and polish. So here’s my before and after.

  • And here’s the video :)

Retouching Bink from Ciaran Whyte on Vimeo.



  1. Well …… I’m guilty of posting ONE shot ‘straight out of camera’! I didn’t realise I was doing it to piss anybody off or being a purist. I did it because it was as near to my ideal shot ‘in camera’ as I would have hoped for. Having said that I do try to get as much right in the camera as possible so that there is less work to do post processing and, as a consequence, less opportunity for bad manipulation.
    I come from a time when there was only film (and I used black and white mostly) so there was, more or less, only contrast, burning and dodging to play with. Dust bunnies and hairs required a reprint or a touchup with a brush.
    So, in future, if I post an ‘out of camera’ pic I’m not saying it can’t be improved – just it came closer to that final image than is the norm. :-)

  2. With you on this one Ciaran, your right that you need to take care and consider the shot in the first place and you cant do a lot about the compositional elements and the idea behind the shot in post. But to say any post production is therefore not a “real” photograph is just pretentious beyond belief.

    My aim is to try and get the vision I had on screen as near as possible to how I envisaged it, with the least amount of work – but to not put any work into it is just lazy.

    Careful consideration in the camera, the best use of light (natural or artificial) and a light hand in PS is all part of the process.

  3. In your tutorial video you sharpen your image. Do you sharpen each size to print or just a general sharpen of the final ‘un-sized’ image?

  4. Really good question! I sharpen for “output”‘ which means I will shapren an image differently if it’s going to be simply posted online and displayed on screen than it will if I’m printing it. My default sharpening, is for what I believe to be my best results for a A3 print on premium luster paper. I would sharpen less if printed smaller, or a little more if it were being printed on a fine art paper. So yes, the amount of sharpening changes depending on the output


  1. It's OK To | The Wonder Of Light - [...] having to put a lot of effort in later in Photoshop. So I do my best to get it…

Care to share your opinion?