Ten Keys to Post-Processing
So let's get into 10 Keys to Post Processing. One, you gotta amplify the main focus of the photo. That's the thing, and great photos that have impact, there's one idea there - bam! You see it and it's conveyed immediately. That's impact. When you look at the photo and go, oh, what's he trying to do there? Where am I looking at? Oh, okay, there it is - zero impact. So you use your post processing to focus somebody's attention onto what you want them to look at first. And then arrange all the other elements to complement what you're trying to focus. Okay, so how do you do that? One, you eliminate or reduce the distracting elements. Okay? You could influence the viewer to see the entire frame of the picture. That's what you want to do. And so that's where cropping comes in, it's like, okay, you gotta see some dead spots in your image and go, okay, I need to crop that because those aren't really adding to the picture and I'm losing impact with that in there, so let's crop that out so more ...
of the focus is right here. Okay? But at the same time you do want them to focus on that one specific part, but then you want every single pixel in that frame them to look at. So, what you gotta do is say, boom, look at this first and then oh, look at all these other things that complement that. And the more things that you use to complement and add vision or add meaning to that main thing, the better the photo is. And it takes a lot of skill to really have a picture that does that well. Okay? So, four, create mood or feel. And that's what you can do with post processing by changing the tone of things, right, enhancing the lighting. Lighting is probably the number one thing that can change the mood. You could have the same client there but put different lighting on it and bam, it can be a completely different mood. Right, and then on top of that, post processing can do that on top of that. Extend your creative vision. I talked about that in the beginning. And that's really important to separate yourself. Now you can't, what I'm doing here, like if you're shooting a wedding, you can't do it on every single wedding. Picture, that's just like insane. Some client wanted me to do that. I go, that would be like $200,000 a wedding. (laughs) That's not a bad idea. But (laughs) These are just like generally - I'm not getting into basics and anything like that, I'm getting into like, hey, you want to make this into a signature piece, right, with your heart and soul in it and make it unique to you, and so post processing is a must for that. Today's photography, okay, today's photography is simply just not taking the picture in camera and then say, here. It's really what you do with post too. And it's more and more of the post is getting involved with it. And it's okay, it's okay. I know some of us who are in the film dance fighting it, but it's okay that way because you know what, it's extending your vision, right? The people who complain about that say, "Well, I just wanted to learn this part in film and then now you're adding that part. That's not fair." Why would you say something's not fair when it allows you to extend your creative vision? Right? And so you gotta embrace it, and there becomes a point where you gotta say this is what it is, maybe I should learn it. You know, maybe I should buy a few Creative Live classes on it, you know? And again, sometimes if you have great fear about this, you learn a few things here and you make a difference in your photos, you get excited about it. It's just like lighting. Like I show people how to use the one flash - Oh my gosh, that's so amazing! And they get totally hooked by it, but they were scared to death of it in the beginning. Right? So it's just part of what photography is now. So we have to embrace this and go with it. Perfection. Perfection creates timeless images. Okay? So that's what we all want to do with our images, we want things that we can look over and over and over again, and as we develop as photographers and artists, the pictures that are more perfect are the ones that we can look at that last forever. So if you go to all the great museums in the world and you see those photos that have been around hundreds of thousands of years, it's basically because there's some perfection in that photo that's executed extremely well. And it's perfect, so you can just keep looking at it over and over and over again. Like great sculpture. They take years to develop it but it looks exactly like the human form, or even better than the human form, and you're like, wow, over and over and over, right, again. Like David, right, in Italy. Anybody go see that? Even though some things they say like his wrists or his forearm is too long or whatever, but people just come by the droves and go, wow, I wish my butt looked that way, that's awesome. (laughs) Okay, post editing. You know what it is? It's a million micro adjustments. It's not one, you know what, just buy these actions, bam, there it is, perfect image. Every image is so different, if you're really gonna make that image sing and make it perfect, you've got a million micro adjustments all over the place, and when you add all those million micro adjustments up it's like, there's your picture. Okay? So it's tedious, yeah. It can be very tedious. But it's making something perfect, so what do you wanna do? We can't make things perfect overnight, it takes time. Okay? Here, key: when you have an image, especially if you're gonna submit to competition or something like this, here's one of the key things. You've gotta have details in the darks and you have details in the highlights. And make sure - not unless, you know, it's intentionally supposed to be all black background, and that's fine. But in general for a picture you've gotta have some details in the darks and details in the highlights. So when I shoot I'd rather be on a little bit of the dark side because I don't want to blow those highlights out. I can always bring back the darks and get some detail back into it, but if you blow out the highlights then you've gotta recreate some information and you know, I've done that plenty of times, trust me. (laughs) So, okay, here's another key thing. Eyes will focus on the brightest and the sharpest elements. So when you're trying to make your focus on that image, it's gotta be the brightest and the sharpest usually. Not unless you're doing some avant garde thing and maybe not. But in general. And so how do you tell that? Well, you just take a look at the picture and you kind of squint like this, and whatever just like pops out at you first, that's where that's the brightest point. Okay? Another way too, let's say you're working on Lightroom and they have that small thumbnail over to the left. If you look at an image really small, you see what's the brightest point. Because it has to reduce everything down into simplified form, so that's - a lot of time, when I'm not sure about the balance, I go over there and look at the small icon over there, that little sample image, and I go, oh okay, yeah, not quite bright enough or too bright or whatever. I use that a lot of times.