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Monday, 09 November 2015

Comments

This is really helpful. Where were you when I started printing? You will probably say it's my fault that I didn't subscribe to the all of the print editions of all your previous gigs, so it's my fault. Begrudgingly, you are correct.

Very interesting post, Mike. Straightforward strategy, but good advice. My process right now is to edit through a VERY tentative "prints" set (basic conversion in LR) and only make further processing to things which will be "picks". But you are right, a first stab at processing does not necessarily get you "quite there" yet. I suppose at the end of the year, when I will have edited my picks into "one stars" and whittled down my work to 250-300 "good" guys, then I'll have to go to "two-star" level, down to no more than 70-80, and try and use your do-it-all-over, play-it-again-Sam routine on those.
I suppose that would be best done if screen work was supplemented by decent printing, but I have to learn a LOT about printing before I can do that...
Thanks again!

I always struggled with "right enough" with post until my website got up. Then the reality of the end product being in a permanent location sorted out my thinking. Much harder to hit the go button when its "out there". To the extent printing tends to make me more conscious of what I am really wanting to achieve. Leave it stuck in processing limbo and it will never be ok.

Just looking, and the passage of time has been a necessary part of my slow-photography practice too. However, the impatience of my commercial clients who despite having the proofs for 3 weeks, suddenly want 37 selected images graded and processed urgently means that their poor planning becomes my rushed processing.
Here are a couple of unconventional tips that help me in my sped-up post-processing decision-making:
The iterative approach. Namely, go too far and then come back. Make it too dark, then bring the slider/curve/whatever back. Likewise with sharpening, local adjustments, even cropping. Just about every adjustment done this way increases the quality and speed of your decision-making. Effectively, a self-calibration teaching moment on every file. And in the self-calibration theme:
A white background on my monitor (in Lightroom and Photoshop with all borders & drop-shadows turned off) ensures I see the 'weight' of the photo on the page, as if it were a print.
Of course you already have a calibrated and profiled monitor, right?
For low-key photographs, examining the deeper tones and shadows at the edge of a photograph is best done with a black background but I always return to a default of white to ensure I retain my 'calibration'. I know that most photographers prefer to have a dark grey or black background for their processing because the photos look better that way. Well, yes they do! But post-processing is not about impressing you. It is about making the image the best that it can be.

Good advice.

The only problem is I sometimes change my mind more than once. I have reprinted one shot over five times using a different PP approach each time.

In some cases, it's so close to right first time that a brief contrast adjustment and sharpening is all it needs anyway and I never touch it again.

I also have a few recent portfolio images that I initially discarded and only rediscovered again after several years. Why I initially discarded them I will never know. Guess ones tastes and priorities develop over time.

Thank you for this Mike. I will try this approach as a working model for post processing. It suggests breathing space, room to grow creatively. And all the while I was reading it the feeling hovered over me that this approach just might be a template to apply to many situations.

"Just looking" is an excellent first step for post-processing. Time is a tremendous luxury for the amateur photographer. Personally, once I decide to keep an image I generally spend quality time with it soon, make a print and then leave it up on my office wall for a while. Usually a month. Sometimes a year. If it's a freestanding piece (one not tethered to a collective rendering style) I nearly always find I want to pull something back from the first go - contrasts, warm/cool balance, saturations, etc. it's very satisfying to look at a print years later and still be pleased with the work.

Restraint and communication through tone are powerful skills to learn and wonderful gifts to inherit. Women tend to be much better color post-processors than men.

Jeeeez....thanks for reminding me of what I used to regularly do when I was doing chemically induced photography (CIP). I feel like a dope that I forgot this. Thankfully I have you to remember for me....

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