The Master of Art
December 11, 2015
The Art of Image Processing
The world has come a long way for processing images. From back in the day when it took physical chemicals to create images using processes like D76. Today where the digital workflow has become increasingly computational often images never make it to a physical medium at all and instead are saved, uploaded to the cloud and shared instantly around the world.
This is the best of times photography. This is the worst of times for photography. Which one is it? Can both these statements be true? How has adding computational technology into an art form improved or hindered it.
There are several advantage to the adoption of the digital in the image art form. One of them is quantity. Thanks to the ever expanding storage space it has become increasingly difficult to say the phrase “I ran out of space” or “I don't have any more room”. Thanks to digital, camera bags everywhere may be a-lot lighter, saving the backs of cameramen everywhere.
With film not only was there the camera and the lenses to contend with, a photographer also had to figure out how they wanted to store their film. Roles and canisters of film took up space. Not only that, with 35mm you had to reload the camera after 36 exposures (photos) which could be a issue if you want to stay in the moment of capturing an event. Life does not wait for the photographer.
Of course with virtually unlimited space creates the problem of too many images. This can lead to endless amount of time just sorting out the good photos from the bad. Which is a difficult task and can lead to the photos never seeing the light of day. This is something film limits being a physical medium. Luckily for digital there are solutions that create virtual library of your photographs and allow for easy searching and organizing the seeming endless stream of photos one takes through out life.
The next quality. If you want to get photographers to fight there are five words you have to say and its “Film is better then digital”. Of course this does depend on the age of the photographer. While the debate has largely gone down in favor of digital. There are some formats of film that are still superior to digital. Digital has largely taken over due to its convenience. Not many people want a dark room in their house when they want to process a image. But for mediums like black and white photography the quality might be worth it to some.
In the early days of Digital, film was preferred because of quality. With the early digital cameras you were stuck with a 4 megapixel camera and you could not change that. If you wanted I higher quality image with film all you had to do was change the film. Also digital did not have the range the film did. By range I mean the amount of shades from light to dark. Often with digital cameras the light will be blown out or the darks will have little or no definition. In some ways digital still does not compare to film. There are directors that still prefer film to digital cameras.
Digital has come up with a solution to this problem however and that is with the invention of raw. What is raw? Raw is a digital format that preserves everything that the camera sees, all of the data. Not all cameras have the ability to take raw photos. It is a feature that is mainly reserved for DSLR cameras (Digital Single Lens Reflex) mainly because these cameras aim more for the professional Photographer. Digital raw allows for more accurate photo editing and gives you more option to edit. It is the main reason for the increase of quality in digital photography. By preserving everything that the digital sensor can see, a-lot of options may be decided after the act of taking the photo.
One of these options is the white balance. Younger photographers may not remember this, but film had a preset white balance. Some film was made for indoors. Others for outdoors and still others for in the shade and outdoors. Ever time you changed location from indoors to out doors or outdoor to in the shade you needed change your film type if your wanted the correct color response. It is in this way that raw saved the digital editing process. Raw allows for actually fine tunning the white balance after the fact and allows for more accurate color reproduction.
Of course and increase in quality means an increase in file sizes. On top of that most computer can not read raw files strait out of the box. Programs like Adobe photoshop and Lightroom are needed for processing raw images. These programs replace the Dark room and are well worth your time learning for processing any and all photographs.
The main differences with Photoshop and Lightroom is there workflow. Both can edit photos but Photoshop's workflow lens it self more to editing one photo at a time while Lightroom is more of Digital library organizer With the ability to fine tune photographs.
It is easy to get lost in the post processing stage. Continually editing and re-editing photographs. To some even the basic of edits is controversial. Which opens up to questions like what is a organic photograph. Because Raw saves everything the camera sees, it actually records more then human eye can see resulting in a more gray hazed over photographs. It is through the process of editing that the photographer brings out the colors and stylizes the final Photograph.
But how far is too far. When does the photographer take an image true to life representations to a more surreal and vibrate representation. These are the questions all photographers should be thinking of their work, through all processes of work. Is it the job of the photographer to take a subject and reproduce a images Exactly how it looks in real life? Or is it the job of the photographer to reproduce an image the exact way the photographer wants the image to feel, to exaggerate the emotional connection through hyper active colors, or High contrast or even minimalists colors. These are all questions that come up during the editing process. However the photographer answers these questions unfolds the style of the photographer.