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.
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
Sharpened using Unsharp-Mask
Increase the vibrance of the yellow and red in the floor and walls (not in the skin tones)
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.