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Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Looking for for a way to avoid saying "post processing" sounds like dodging the issue.

The slide film snobbishness is a mystery to me. The fantasy is that the transparency is the final product, therefore you have to get it right in camera.

That's simply not true! Transparencies are no more the final product than negatives (with the possible exception of a large format transparencies intended to be displayed backlit, and a few similar oddities). Sure, there were a few people who were serious about storing, curating, and showing 35mm slides, but that is a concept honored more in the imagination than in reality. Most people put together between zero and two slide shows, and gave up.

The endpoint for transparencies is print, same as a negative. Whether it be commericial print, magazines etc, or cibachromes, or whatever, a slide usually isn't "done" until it's printed. The fact that most slides were simply abandoned in albums and carousels does not change that. In the printing step, most of the usual CER pipeline applies, same as with any other medium.

Perfect! Copyright (patent? register?) it quick!

K.I.S.S. I process raw files and if I remove something I alter the image.

Yes, post is well established among the hobbyists and forum posters, but I like rework. I think I can use rework with "civilians" when I'm talking about this activity that I enjoy.

Rework admits up front that I am changing the photo, and says that I'm proud of the labor I put into doing it.

Using correct usually brings out a difference in opinion between me and the civilian about how well any camera records a scene. I'd rather not have to educate people I meet about that.

Enhance - well of course I'm making the photo better, but to a civilian, that's just my ego, and they may be right. I could say their eyes need training if they can't see my enhancements are better, but that's not a way to win friends and influence people.

So, I will give rework a try when talking to the uninitiated. Thank you for suggesting it.

Take a hint from Lightroom -- they have the "Develop" module. I develop my images -- just like photographers do/did in the darkroom.

I don't pick up on the same negative vibe when I see the term post processing. I interpret it to mean whatever we do after we download our files to the computer, unless it's used derisively on occasion (and then, the derisive person can freely substitute whatever term we choose to replace post processing with !) Whether it makes sense or not depends on how you interpret it. If it's read as "after processing" then it makes little sense, but if it's "processing done after" then it seems reasonable (a shortened version of post-capture processing).
Editing, to me, implies changing (even if that's not what editors do in other fields). If the average person hears that you post process your images and that I edit my images, he or she is going to think I'm the one doing unnatural, unethical and possibly immoral things ! Videographers are expected to edit, I believe, so I'm not sure why photographers aren't. But edit also means the process of whittling your photos down to keepers ("edit ruthlessly"). It's probably a good word for it if it weren't already too late.
Maybe "finishing" ? Except that you may never be done finishing. I guess we're looking for a term that means "preparing for output" (whether that's print or screen).
CER gets too specific IMO - people simply want to distinguish what they do up to pressing the shutter button from what they do with the file after. (After ... post). Image processing comes to mind, but then, the camera does image processing, too.
I'm fine with post processing. Processing sounds like something that needs to be done. Post just means after you take the picture - it's probably unnecessary, because you're not doing any processing before.

Thanks for this accurate description of image-altering techniques. However, I have a problem with it's "moral" implications: In my opinion, we life in a free world, meaning that the photographer ist free to do whatever he wants to his pictures (including very heavy reworking and altering of content) - with only one reservation: When you are using your pictures for documentary or scientific purposes, "reworking" ist a no go and you have to declare, what you have done to your photographs. So when you are practising photography as an artform, you are completly free to "post process" as much as you please and don't have to declare anything! Manuel

I wrote that "edit" can mean "change" to some people. Others have no such issue. The Rocky Mountain School of Photography site has a page on workflow that describes: capture, import, edit, output. But words editing doesn't have to be done on the computer. Consider this sentence gragment from http://www.updig.org/guidelines/ph_digital_workflow.html:
"When editing a JPEG file (whether created by the camera, scanner, or in post-processing) ..."

What's wrong with just "processing?" The way I think of it, either I let the camera process the image for me, using the algorithms embedded in its firmware, or I do it myself by using external software to make adjustments to the raw luminance data emitted by the camera's light sensor. Either way, it's a process (i.e., it involves multiple, sequential steps), and either the firmware in the camera is the processor or I am. I don't see why we need a different word; we just need to get rid of the redundant "post-" prefix.

How about just "develop." We did all those things in the darkroom, from how we souped the film to what we chose to include or exclude. We proceeded with our numerous test prints to arrive at what we felt at the time was a good result that represented what we thought we saw when we took the picture. Now I take the photograph and load the digital edition of what I saw in the camera into the computer, phone, iPad, and "develop" the image.

"Post" is an import from the motion picture world, now that I think of it. One of the standard jokes is "We'll fix it in post!"

As you say, applying it today is kind of self-contradictory, at least if we work from RAW files (as all right-thinking photographers of course must). (If you work from camera jpegs, then it really is POST-processing, it's working with the image AFTER the camera has done its bit.)

CER had me wondering if it was a trade show, and then made me think of the Cold War term CEP ("circular error probable").

Maybe, if we do it just right, we can encourage the term "post-processing" and then get the "post" to wither away? Then the process analogous to what was done with film will be labeled with the same term.

Call it "polishing"

Polishing implies taking something that is mostly there and finishing it to the level that the craftsperson wants. Sometimes an images doesn't need a lot of work, while others can be made to shine with a lot of work.

It's a little bit like the adage: "When is a piece of art finished? When you stop working on it."

What you call 'Reworking' is, I think, well covered by compositing, that is reordering and reappropriating picture elements. Regardless of which photo these elements come from - I don't see a structural difference between cloning/healing [inside one and only one picture] and combining various photos into one image.

As for Correction and Enhancement, isn't that covered by 'developing'?

The terms post and editing irritate me because they are inaccurate. My post exposure workflow begins with editing my ungodly number of exposures down to the few that are potentially acceptable. Once I have a few workable images the second best part of the photographic process begins Photo Finishing.

"CER" is the name of the department where I work: Communications and External Relations. Nobody uses the full name, it's always the abbreviation. Don't get me started on the etymology of this, but we've managed to give "CER" a positive connotation among our campus clients and colleagues through a lot of good, hard work.

CER. Reminds me of CLA (clean, lube adjust.) A reasonable approach to communicating a complex series of steps.

I do wish that it rolled off the tongue easier though ... There is no phonetic stop between Seeee and Eeeee which makes it feel awkward in the mouth and difficult to discern when heard aloud.

CER is great, but it will take some time to have it spread over the English speaking world. That is one of the very few occasions where German has an advantage over English: Even in film days, we have only used the verb "bearbeiten" (working on something) or the noun "Bearbeitung" to describe what we are doing between the negative and the print.
Cheers, Fritz

For some reason I've always used the word "process" instead of post-process. I'll keep using it until something else comes along. I have never said PP, although I may have used the acronym in forum discussions. I may have slipped up and said to my wife I'm going to "develop" my digital photos a couple times, but I think I could feel the photography gods frowning down upon me at the time. What I'm really doing is both editing (selecting) and then making them look right (fixing). Maybe "fixing" or "fix" is a good word. It hints at the film usage, and it's accurate enough. I fix the colors, horizon, etc until I like what I see.

Good luck with that.

What about... 'Editing'?

I believe that still photography inherited the 'post' terminology from cinema photography where 'post' was the act of creating a movie from the takes made in production of the film. In the cinema world if you were 'on set' you were in production and if you were in the cutting room you were in 'post'. I believe this predated digital and the terms have evolved with the medium. Digital photographers today are producing images on location and making them viewable in post just as the movie people do.

I'ver read that one reason names are hard to remember is that they're totally arbitrary -- anybody could be named "John," but most people aren't. There's nothing to hang onto, no mnemonic device that you can unconsciously devise for most names. That's also the problem with words made up of initials (who remembers OM-D E-M5?) unless they make a memorable sound, which is why hundreds of PR people sit around daily trying to think up clever acronyms for products that otherwise people won't remember. CER doesn't do it, IMHO (see what I did there?) but maybe Cerography would work, using the common -graphy suffix. Photography, xerography, filmography, etc. It'd still be hard to remember what the CER stands for, but you could always look it up.

How about: "MSPSE"?

... "Making a Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear".

I am happy to know that you have accommodated to "post" and "post-processing." I have, too, but without so much analysis. To me, "processing" was what I did "post" up- (or is it down-? or side-?) loading from the camera card to the computer. The camera had already processed the light through a lens, sensor and computer into electrons on a card. Anyway, my processing comes after.

I find the terms comfortable largely because others seem to know their general meaning and that their precise content might vary from person to person.

Accepting them is efficient, as you point out, for the same reason that it's efficient to pour a concrete sidewalk on a college campus only after human traffic patterns show where people walk. And doing so avoids the artificial, elevated phrases that seldom add necessary meaning. For example, in the general area of manual labor (which is never really all "manual"), I was proud of my work as a janitor, as a secretary, and as a hog farmer when I was young. I didn't need to be an maintenance engineer, administrative assistant, or pork producer.

Now that you have put the "post" issue to rest, I encourage you to focus future columns on truly serious language problems, ones that are tearing at the communication heart of broader U.S. society: using "bring" instead of "take"; using "myself" instead of "I" or "me"; using "them," "they," and "their" as singular; and the false knowledge that splitting an infinitive (impossible in Latin but often preferable in English) is poor grammar (to name just a few signs of English language end times). You add to that list excessive use of parentheticals.

Your treatment of those issues will rile us readers enough to want a brew or two with our haha.

I think it is fair to compare sound recording and light recording (music and photography). In the music world, the term for post-processing sound recordings is "producing". So maybe "producing" or "image production" are better terms than post processing and simpler than CER.

I have never cared for the expression, "post processing." Is there "pre processing?"

(People must think it cool to say they will "take care of it in post.")

I have always used the term, "edit." All of the definitions include the idea of making changes, which is what one does when using a photo editing program.

Adobe advertises, "Learn how to edit photos with Adobe Photoshop."

Paintshop Pro claims to be "the best Photo Editing Software."

- Richard

Maybe because I work in cinema, I don't understand the "negative" connotation of "post". What we do, post capture (don't you love "capture" vs "exposure" or "snap":) Is a substantial part of creating a "photograph" or "image". Nothing to be sensitive about.

And "print" or "printing" doesn't make much sense, especially when the result or representation is never printed, which is quite common these days.

I post process every photograph. Outside of a studio, the chances of getting it perfected without further substantial adjustment are slim.

So be proud, fellow "Posters". You are real photographers!

Just curious though, if allowed Mike, a link to a recent photograph of mine that has some substantial post work. Does it rub you guys and gals the wrong way? Just curious.


Then there's the internal redundancy of the term "previsualization". Grind your teeth over that one for a while. Please. I have little enamel left.

I wonder if some of concern about terminology is simply that most of those for whom this matters had their photographic sensibilities formed by "traditional" (I really don't want to use the word "analogue"; I think I prefer the term used in Durst enlarger ads, "optical".) photography.
Meaning that optical and chemical manipulations are OK, e.g., burning, dodging, local contrast control with VC filters, use of potassium ferricyanide to raise a value was all acceptable. Even more drastic constructions were fine, e.g., Mortensen, Uelsmann were considered photography in a fine art way, because the prints were attempting to be something else.
All these manipulations are OK with me, yet whenever I see people drooling over a landscape photo that does its best to emulate a Thomas Kinkade picture, I use the word "photoshop" in the worst way possible.


Disagree with this whole thing. "Post" makes complete sense to me as in "post-capture" (that's where the "after" part makes sense -- after the photons hit the surface, and yes of course camera processors massage the image immediately). "CER" strikes me as unnecessary unless there's a need to pedantically break down the levels of alteration, maybe in a classroom setting, and it's not exactly catchy like the fake acronym RAW.

I suspect that "post-processing" is a bastardization of "post-production." Post-production makes sense in relation to photography, but just "post" is fine.

I disagree with Ctein on this one. Getting it "right" in camera is worthwhile because it builds good shot discipline (I really do think all those years I shot with Kodachrome with an OM-1 and MF lenses made me a better photographer) and from a LEAN perspective, "First Time Right" results in less time, less over-processing, less rework, and less effort. Less "muda" as the Lean Six Sigma guys say.

And with those parting thoughts, I bid you adieu, as I've got images I have to edit in post.

Ha, Ha, Ha...there IS something better about getting it 'right in the camera'...

For those of us who were commercial and advertising photographers, we tried to make sure that everything was as far as it could be taken, so retouching, if needed at all, was minimal. Dusting the set, goboing off reflections, making sure props and 'fixes' weren't visible, taping cords up out of camera-eye. We took great pride at how many images we could produce that were perfect with no needed retouching! We were raised in the studios from out of photo school to "get it right in the camera"!

I manage a large staff of e-comm people right now, and there is no pride what-so-ever in what most of them do. They won't take a dot off the background because: "...the editor can fix it in post". It's pathologically lazy and disinterested in completing the best job possible.

God have Mercy on your souls...

I'd like to turn the term "PhotoShopping" into: "fixing-my-dumb-axx-mistake because I wasn't watching-the-whole-photo-including-the-background-so-I-couldn't-take-a-half-step-to-the-side-to-avoid-that-sign-coming-out-of-their-head".

Too Long?

[A little. Maybe a little too crabby, too. :-) --Mike]

"Raw Processing" - what more do you really need?

It is simple, true, everyone who shoots raw files understands it, it is software-neutral, and it probably wouldn't leave non-photographers with the impression of "Photoshopping" an image.

And now the in-camera purists can loudly proclaim:

"I don't CER at all!"

I develop mine (using Photoshop).

I personally use the word "cooking" for doing something on digital pictures with a computer.
I do not use the software "Photoshop" or the newer versions of it. I use GIMP on Linux OS. So I cannot use the term photoshopping too. Linux users are too proud, almost snobbish, to use that term.
My friends accept that terminology and I continue to use that. "Post processing" sounds a bit too arrogant for some one who shoots pictures for the sheer pleasure of it. Ranjit Grover India

Of course there's intrinsic value in not doing this "R" thing - it's the connection between photography and authenticity.
Thank you for the McCurry example - I hate manipulated pictures like that.
So for me it's only "CE".

I've been enjoying this excursion into picture-making practices and philosophy. It mirrors in a way something that has preoccupied me for the last few weeks, something that is exemplified by a practice I've seen in the local art shows of various artist groups in my area, of not only using "photography" as a category, but also as the "medium." Say what?

What would I like to see instead? Well, my wife and I have been using "pigment print" for prints that we make on our respective Epson printers, because the P600 and R2880 use pigment colors. I recently entered an old print I had made a long while ago, in "gelatin silver," and few people knew what that was. Callotype? Albumen? Platinum? For a bit of fun, my latest entry was an "inkjet wet transfer monoprint." (That's my own little poke at those who say photography ain't art, apparently because there's no "hands on" involved. Bah!)

I spoke with George Tice when a local college ran a show of his platinum and gelatin silver prints, asking about how he got the detail he did in a print of a water tower next to a gas station in Cherry Hill, NJ. Mr. Tice works in LF film. His answer surprised me. Three different exposures, that he used selectively in making the print. HDR, anyone?

At last year's Paul Strand retrospective in the Philadelphia Art Museum, I do not recall the image, but the display revealed that he altered the negative, DREW on it, in order to achieve the desired effect in the print. The Dave Heath retrospective showed how he cropped, burned in, and generally worked the image to get the print he wanted.

Your comment, or Ctein's, about Kodachrome users getting it right in camera: when I first met my wife, as a Kodachrome shooter, that was her mantra. She is meticulous, she really got it right, and had her best shots printed in Cibachrome. But once she got into Photoshop, stand way back! Punch up the grain. Rack the sliders. "Paint" out the distracting elements. Crop like crazy, let the chroma noise be part of the artistic effect.

Okay, so my point is ... what? That this is all part of the "the work." What effect does the photographer want, and how do they get there? Except that the Internet has bollixed up the terminology, I still call it "print making."

I'm not so sure "post processing" is a problematic term. To me, it has no disparaging connotations. I can only speak for myself but can't help but suspect - without being judgmental - that the problem others may have with the term has more to do with their own personal and professional baggage more than anything else.

I got into photography in a serious way in the mid-1970s. To me, "post processing" indicates only that I'm not yet finished with the image and plan to edit, modify or adjust it in some way - any way - after I transfer the file from the camera. Cropping, dodging and burning, or anything else in the darkroom amounts to the same thing.

"Post processing " is a neutral term to me. Perhaps a bit clinical but in no way disparaging. It is generic, of course, in the same way "editing" is. One could be more specific by indicating exactly how one wishes to modify the file.

Note that the motion-picture industry has been using the term "post production" since its infancy more than a century ago and includes the use of moving images captured on film or digital files.

At the end of the day, I believe we're overthinking this. Is there a problem as long as we all underatand and agree what we're talking about? Moreover, as Mike posits, we're unlikely to change an accepted convention. That being the case, it's probably not a good idea to attempt to force a change by using any other term that might add to confusion.

I've discovered a previously undiagnosed dislike for the word curation which seems to be gaining ground in favour for what I've always called editing, in the sense that Mike uses it here. I don't fancy billing clients for 'correction' though. It sounds like I didn't get something right first time round and shouldn't therefore be charging extra for putting it right after the fact. In the early days of digital, colleagues and I experimented with various terms to describe the work done once the images were brought into the computer and most were queried by clients due to their resemblance to film based workflow. In the end we settled on 'digital post production' and that seems to be universally accepted (if probably not understood).

Mike, somehow I don't feel like lumping the CE with the R.

I usually think about doing some (or a considerable amount of) cee-ing to my images, not R.

And if I wanted to R, well I would just call it Reworking, and assume that your reworking will probably not be that great if you didn't do CE before, during or after.

So CE works for me!.

Is someone who labors over bokeh a "boker"? If printer is confusing when referring to a person why not use "printist"? As for the work I do on an image between capture, a term I hate, and printing or sending it out to the inter-web, I just call it processing and leave it at that.

Mike, I fail to see why "process" or "edit" are at all wrong for what photographers do.

The processing we do is no longer physical, but anyone who shoots raw still needs to spend time with the images that come out of the camera to make them viewable to the world. Even if the processing is nothing more than hitting "okay" and accepting all the ACR/CaptureOne/DPP/whatever defaults, a raw file still needs to have _something_ done to it to reify the photograph in the data. An image in a raw file is just as unfinished as a latent image on a roll of unprocessed film.

Post-processing is also a perfectly acceptable term--once processed, maybe you'll bring 'em your photos into Photoshop and do some more involved editing.

As for editing and editors, well, language changes. Meanings change. Sometimes in the blink of an eye. That's what makes language so wonderful. Once upon a time "computer" meant "a person who computes" not "a box for turning electrons into blog posts". Editor-is-a-person-not-a-thing is a windmill you shouldn't even think about tilting towards...

I'm still puzzled by the term 'pre-order'. It used to be known as, well, an 'order'. You place the order and, when available, the order is filled.
Also, at what point does the pre-order become an order, and for how long does it remain an order until it converts into a 'post-order'?
I think we should be told.

Why can't we call it "Digital Development"? or DD for short. That would at least connect it to the work of the past that had to be done on film to make it printable.

As an ex slide shooter I can tell you there was nothing snobbish about being told to shoot an assignment for production where it was expected you would get "get it right the first time"! Mildly terrifying actually.

Whilst there was pride in ones work when one did get it right the first time, the reality had more to do with copious bracketing and the occasional rescue attempt with the slide duplicator!

CER* - I like where this is heading and will adopt for my work if I may. I'm definitely a C type person, with a bit of E as needed and never any R. (well, so far!)

*Assuming the rights for this are now in the public domain otherwise my agent will need to contact yours to sort out a deal!

The problem I see with CER is that you could just use E because "enhancement" covers all the other processes.

Now you've done it - the next few days I will spend most free moments trying to find other words/acronyms/initializations for what happens after the initial capture(s). So far I"ve got PCM (post-capture modification), or in acronym form, POCAMO. (Originally the M stood for manipulation, but that has too many negative connotations, and pocamo sounds better to me than pocama).

I concur getting it right the first time is a rather obtuse aim when applied to digital photography. No one can uphold the delusion that a digital image is an accomplished one straight out of the camera. That would mean the processor would be working exactly the way we want it to, which can happen every once in a while but it's an exception. As a rule, digital images have poor colours, lack contrast and look quite flat, so image edition - or C-E-R, if you will - is part of the photographic iter.
That doesn't mean you can just shoot carelessly and turn the image thus obtained into a masterpiece by using digital processing. Photographers worth their salt still need some skills. You need a modicum of knowledge in order to operate a camera properly. C-E-R doesn't solve every problem, and neither does manipulating images resourcing to Photoshop.
On the other hand, getting right the first time is a valid concept with film. In this case you have to rely on your skills and there's little that can be done to address some image issues. Even if this imperative of getting it right the first time is mitigated by the contemporary tendency (to which I adhere) of scanning the negatives. In this case you have a wide range of options that can come to the rescue of some image defficiencies.
Despite this digital technology aiding film, that doesn't mean it isn't important to master exposure and have good compositional notions. Getting it right the first time should be, not an aim per se, but a guideline. The better you get the photograph, the less correction it will require.
Which is important because you don't get the chance to make several hundred exposures of the same subject with film. If you blow your opportunity, there's very little you can do about it. There's a sense of decisiveness in film that's pretty much absent from digital photography. With a digital camera you have a virtually unlimited number of exposures, ensuring you that at least one of the pictures will be recoverable should anything go wrong. Shooting film, on the other hand, is like walking on thin ice. Put a foot wrong and you blew it. Forever. Which adds to the excitement of shooting film, in my view at least.

I think you summed it up well with "language can't keep up with thecnology" .
Technology continually allows is to do things that we don't yet have words for-- so first movers use old words that don't precisely fit, and carry with them remnants of their old meaning.
For better or worse they usually stick.
It's even true for the physical form factor of new technology . Digital cameras did not have to look like film cameras, or have sensors that matched film sizes. So we continually find 'old' influencing 'new'.
Like the Kodachrome argument - beyond forcing people to become more precise about exposure there was no 'virtue' in Kodachrome's limitations -despite the fact that some folks thought it gave them the moral or artistic high ground.
A lot of beautiful work was done on Kodachrome and that work should be celebrated.
But people cling to 'the old way' or 'my way' is better, and not always for logical reasons.
So even if we adopted newer, more precise and descriptive terms, there are always folks who will ascribe their own connotations to them.
C-E-R makes sense to me, but there will immediately be folks who ascribe negativity to them as well.....
...Correcting is how we fix stuff that was wrong in the first place...
...things that need to be Enhanced, were dull in the first place....
,,,,and Rework is what we do after the first work didn't (work)

Precision in language is a beautiful and desirable thing .....that seems to be slipping away.
As you said previously, Digital Imaging is different from photography. Digital Imaging can look exactly like photography, but it can do things that were never contemplated as being possible with "photographic ' techniques.

We DO need better terms, but we're unlikely to get them.

Mike - Consider this article along with your writing on pool, cars, turntables as a bit of bore. Language - while useful for clarity - will not replace visual images.
Please return to presenting actual light capturing work - whether analog or digital.

I like it, though it sounds pretty close to CPR when spoken aloud, as if the image is in need of urgent medical attention.

Hi Mike:

I agree 100% with this post; I will start using CER and point people here. Remember Arlo Guthrie 's anti-war movement in Alice's Restaurant?

P.S. "pre-planning" absolutely drives me nuts.


I like "brillig". Just my 2 kopecks worth.

With best regards.


I see absolutely nothing wrong with the term "post processing". The "post" means after you press the shutter button. No different that when we used film. We clicked the shutter and then began the post processing. Film development and printing could include various "processes" like using a variety of chemistry and physical actions that would influence the final print (output).

And the terms "Correction", "Enhancement", and "Reworking" are definitely not neutral. Just to start, "Correction" sounds like there's something wrong that needs correcting.

Digital photography. like film photography, involves the initial task of gathering some field data (digital file or exposed film), and then processing that data in order to achieve the image that was in the photographer's "minds eye" initially.

And while we're sending erroneous terms to perdition, I nominate my personally most despised photographic term, "crop sensor". It's a term that puts my teeth on edge like fingernails on a chalk board. I mean, would someone like to show me the device inside a camera that is cropping the sensor from it's full size to a smaller format? Enough already.

Are 'photograph' or 'photographer' still valid terms or are they increasingly archaic or inaccurate ? Could we still refer to the digital 'photograph' if, say, only 'C' were applied and if E and R were applied the photograph morphs into an 'image' ?Terminology hangs around for a long time after it is redundant or inappropriate, as you know. I am trying to think of examples where terminology has changed, particularly regarding process, but I'd have to google it.

> We don't do "processing" at all any more
And yet we do - or the machine does that for us!
I like this word, broad enough to include anything from C to R, and also including the necessary and preliminary magic to transform a bunch of single R, G or B numbers into an image, but without too many connotations.

So what you are discussing is the thing(s) done between shutter click and publishing, which can be anything from capture share to Instagram post to all the activities mentioned as CER. I suggest that thing(s) need a more descriptive, common and widely understood word.
Any takers? CORENWORK? DEVOLVE? This could be fun.

If only the digital file would have been a negative image, 'digital negative' would have been the ideal term, as it plainly suggests there is still some work to be done. Unfortunately, it is not, and therefore the term is confusing. But how about 'developing'? When I explain to people I have just taken a photo of, that I still have some developing to do before I can show them the print, everyone understands it immediately.

It took me a few hours to see how the word "correction" could possibly be seen as value-neutral. By itself, it seems to imply that what you have before you engage in correction must be "incorrect" somehow. Like a misspelling or a mathematical error. But I gather you mean correction more in the sense of "course correction"--making adjustments, as you go along, to get you closer to a goal. Enhancement also, by itself, doesn't sound particularly value-neutral to my ear.

What about "development" as a term for the various things you do to an image after shooting? Yes, it means something narrow/specific if you're using film, but really, developing a negative from exposed film is only one step in the "development" a photographic image--"development" in the broader sense of making/refining something from constituent materials.

How about "processing" or "developing"?


"You'll never encounter the term CER again outside of this one single post about it by me... Language settles where it settles, and like it or not we're stuck with the stinky little misshapen bastard term "post" for the software phase of digital imaging,"

Why do we (who is "we"?) have to be stuck with something we don't like?

Why can't you continue to use CER? I'll continue to use "editing" since that word implies making changes, which is what I do in my "editing" program.

- Richard

I like it, for all the reasons you give. But where does "convert to black & white" fit? "Correct" or "Enhance"? I'd guess Enhance, which seems like an interesting place for that to be!

I am trying hard to grok the idea of word "postprocessing" as a judgmental term. Failing miserably so far. It's such a commonly accepted word.
Postprocess comes after the shoot - just like main course comes after the soup. Do you consider main course a derogatory term?
Now I know there are people who don't accept the idea of postprocessing itself. Just like there are people who believe Earth is flat (no, seriously, I had a conversation lately with a lady who said Earth can't be round, because the river Nile starts on the southern hemisphere and ends on the northern, which means that if the Earth was round, the Nile would have to float upwards. I know, right).
Luckily, there's not so many of them, and mostly they are folks who use their postprocess hate to cover lack of postprocess skill.

CER? Not bad. I bet the SOOC crowd would have an issue with this. Of course they were Kodachrome shooters in their previous lives. Personally, I prefer to think that I'm cooking my pics. Not very technical, but does allow for the concept of a photo being overcooked. (or fried, burnt, half baked, etc.)

Old Mr. Adams was said to equate the negative to the score and the print to the performance. You could say the sme about the Raw File vs. the Output. How about "Anselizing?"

Reworking is a superset of correction and enhancement; it covers both.

Having been introduced [as a mere stripling] to photography in the age of Promicrol developer and Velour Black graded paper, I continue to think of the process [both noun and verb] as the act of "processing" the image I have taken/as perceived by me, after which I can make a "print" [also both noun and verb] that approaches my vision of what I observed. It is only at that point that I feel I have produced a "photograph."

In a previous post you wrote "(In related news, my mental hard drive for things known by three initials is almost full, and nothing will delete—but never mind.)"

Your mental hard drive almost full but you couldn't resist creating another? Is it full now? Thanks, made me laugh.

* Capture
* Import
* Develop
* Print/Export

In most cases, I think it is fine to let language evolve on its own. While we can conjure up implications to a term such as "post processing" that are not positive, over time the meaning converges on, well, its meaning, not its implications.

Language evolves, and it usually does so organically. I see not more problem with "post processing" than with "pre visualization" — both accurately reflect what happens and the point in the process where it occurs.

Now, the term "photoshopping" (or, worse, 'shopping) is an entirely different matter. Don't get me started! ;-)

How about borrowing a term from another of your interests, and using "mastering"

How about ... 'printing'?
Whether it is for digital or analagoue viewing, isn't that what we are doing?
(No more acronyms ... please (!))

My thought is I.D. for Image Development. And consider that maybe the ID in the brain personality is the part that might be developing an image for either web display or for print. Also, I think Photoshop is now too long in the tooth as a product name. I think Artshop is more accurate given the sheer number of ways that art can be created with the software.

And the term Post Processing seems akin to the qualities of Processed Foods which are not generally good for you.

While I like CER I think I'll continue to say "processing." It is one simple word that gives a pretty good idea of what we do to both photographers and non-photographers.

I do like the separation of correct, enhance and rework. Most likely I'll add rework to my photo vocabulary, and maybe enhance. I already use correct, as in "correcting color and contrast."

Putting "post" in front of "process" always seemed unnecessary and annoying.

I can go either way on "editing." Having begun my career as a photographer I understand that use, but I also spent a good part of my life as a word editor where what we did included large doses of correction, enhancement and reworking. I think the use of editing to describe the culling process is more or less specific to photography, while most of the world understands it as more like what we did with words.

Analogization? After all, the camera sensor takes an analog signal (photons) and converts it to digital file that "looks like" a bunch of 0s and 1s (or an anonymous sector on a disc) to human eyes. The "PP" software extracts information from the digital signal and reconstitutes it in an analog form that human eyes can detect.

I really don't mind "post-processing" as a term, although one could simplify and just call it "processing". Camera processes analog to digital; RAW converter software processes digital to analog (screen or print image entering human eyeballs).

Unfortunately, CER will never stick because it's not sexy and it needs to be explained (and explained, and explained).

This clumsy tripping over vaguely understood but specialised terms is one of my regular gripes.
Explaining to clients, whether in a quote or to give context why they cannot have all the high res photos the moment my camera stops firing, takes thought and care to ensure they understand.
CER perfectly describes the process, but still does not clearly communicate to the incognoscenti (yes; a made up word. Perfectly sensical if you ask me).
I choose different phrases and explanations depending on the audience. Examples include post-process, enhance, optimise, adjust, correct but never Photoshop.
My preferred coverall phrase is image-work, often followed by a breakdown that may involve references to colour and tonal adjustment, cropping and file optimisation, and so on.
One day's shooting may take days or even weeks of image-work, so it is important that clients appreciate the value they are getting from photographers who commit to getting the best expression of the photograph from the camera file.
However, the audience should not be able to see the image-work in the finished piece. If they do, then the photograph's integrity has been compromised.

"Print" wouldn't work for me because I don't print anywhere near all the images I shoot and work on. I can neither afford to make all those prints nor do I have space to store them (or customers to buy them). I propose "refine" as the term for what we do to our digital files. It works grammatically even if we only put them on the web.

I propose simply "finishing," which is wide open for interpretation (it can mean correction, enhancement, preparation for printing, etc.) and it implies (correctly, I think) that these are the normal and expected activities that are performed on a photograph in preparation for the photograph's final manifestation, or "presentation." It has the added bonus of being familiar and already in use; it's the term that was used in the old days when you'd take a roll of film in to get developed and printed ("photo finishing").

It is also free of the negative connotations that Ctein doesn't like about "post processing." Used in conversation, it would be like "I will do a bit of finishing before I show you the proofs" or "don't worry about those cables in the sky, I'll fix that in finishing." Also, "I'll need to finish those images before I print them," etc.

There's nothing new to learn or explain. You can say this to a total neophyte and they'll know what you mean.

I already understood that "post" or "post processing" is a bastardisation of "post production". And I'm OK with that, personally. I think of it as a short version of "post capture processing". So I'd call it PCP.

But my ego is fragile and I need to sound like I know what I'm doing, so I'll continue to call it post. :)


I don't see the problem with the term. It probably comes directly from the film industry, where many things were "corrected" in post-production or "post". I suspect that the "processing" in post-processing was added to make it relate to film processing. Let's face it, there has always been a post production phase of photographs that's taken place after the original was shot. Post or post-processing seems an easy to use and an accurate and inclusive description.

What's wrong with straight jpeg out of camera, unedited raw and then all others? The problem with levels of post processing is where is the line drawn? Where does one level of post processing end and the next level begin? How many edits are allowed, how many items are omitted or added, it should be "as shot" without any of those crazy jpeg functions such as toy camera, etc. yuck I hate those effects. My gosh photography is becoming camera programming and after effects using image altering software, what happened to a photographer having a good eye and timing?

Why make this complicated?
It seems to just be the word "post" you're having trouble with.

We "process" our photos.
In Lightroom's terms we "develop" them which is pretty close.

Either term works for me. Why try to invent new words?

"because with slides you really were stuck with what you got out of the camera."


That's what push and pull E6 lines were for not to mention dye transfer. For a while Colorworks in NYC even ran a Kodachrome line that could do pushes and pulls as well as 120 Kodachrome.

Say you have a six person rock band who can't keep their eyes open more that 90 percent of the time which means that only 53% of the shots will even have their eyes all open at once, so you don't want to bracket and get down to only 15% of the exposures making it through the first cull, so you shoot everything at the best guess of the exposure and shoot a roll for clip tests, then develop the balance of the shoot at whatever push or pull looks right.

Then the lead singer thinks her purple leather pants make her look fat, so the dye transfer guy changes them to yellow.

In the cinema world color and exposure correction was called timing, and was done by a person called a timer who worked under the direction a person called a colorist.

POST-PROCESSING is correct! Why? Because the image is processed (whether RAW or JPEG) in-camera. Post-processing is what you do to that already processed image AFTER the in-camera processing. RAW, incidentally, is not raw like a carrot plucked from the earth -- it has been processed.

Me? I work with JPEGs and in my head, I EDIT them, but then I have been writing and taking photographs for more than half a century.

Nevertheless, I am very aware I am further processing the already processed image so I am happy with post-processing.

Cheers, Geoff

PS: I don't "Photoshop" though, I use PhotoLine and Canvas X.

Cheers, Geoff

@Herman Let's not make light of this burning issue!

Really? "Post-processing" never bugged me or seemed artifical. It's a short-hand for post-capture processing, isn't it?

But for my money Dave Kosiur hit a home run and put this game to be way up above when he wrote, "Take a hint from Lightroom -- they have the Develop module. I develop my images -- just like photographers do/did in the darkroom."

End of story, Dave!

Well, you're gonna get a lot in the feedbag on this one, Mike. Adams thoughtfully considered the entire process from the idea, the calculation, the click, the wet chemistry, the print as making a photograph. So I'm happy with making since the idea of an image and its realization should be thought of as a construct. Even Garry W. out there streetside was thinking every minute. Can we go with making however pedestrian it may sound?

In the days of film, it was called darkroom work.

In the days of digital, maybe it should be called "screen" work since you are looking at a computer screen most of the time.

It seems that Gene might agree with Ctein.


Though, if I had to bet between Eugene Smith and Photoshop on the ability to manipulate an image, C, E and R, my money goes on Mr. Smith.

Last week in London I went to an exhibition at the Tate Britain gallery on the relationship between photography and painting in the 19th century. Two things struck me. Firstly famous painters were quite happy to use photography (then a novelty) as a reference - many art teachers would frown on that today; secondly many photographers indulged in wholesale reworking in the printing process, treating it as a form of creativity in itself, hence the exhibition title 'Painting with Light'. For me the real issue is the distinction (if there is one) between creative reworking and fakery. Making models slimmer on magazine covers is definitely fakery. Maybe it all depends on the overall message the final image is intended to convey. But there's nothing new about reworking, apart from its dubious association with a commercially available software programme. Maybe THAT's the problem.

Regarding your explanation of 'sensical' as being a made-up word: aren't all words made-up? :)

I'll just register my own feeling, which is first of all that 'post-processing' doesn't seem derogatory in the least to me, and does seem reasonably accurate. (The default raw interpretation, or the in camera jpg, would be the processing to which the subsequent adjustments are 'post'.) 'Corrections', otoh, seems skewed towards judgement, though also not inaccurate.

As for people denigrating 'post', to me that seems more like a subset of cases. I know no one who thinks that it's wrong to optimize a file for printing, but I do know people who roll their eyes at the 'fix it in post' mentality--the attitude that paying attention to optimizing your capture-stage file is a waste of time, or somehow elitist, archaic, and unnecessary.

Personally, I respect both types of skill and work, although I tend to think of only one as an essential part of being a photographer (the other I think of more as being a printer or illustrator, depending on the work).

I always "Tweak" an image, no apoligies made. It depends on the output for web or print.GB.

Quibble: IMHO there is not that much room for purism in non-digital imaging either. Posturing about Kodachrome aside.

I've never had much interest in exploring the philosophical implications of the language used to describe how you go from what you captured on film/CCD to the final picture. I used to call it "printing". Now I call it "running Lightroom".

I guess this is my engineering brain taking over.

Analyze and interpret.

You might consider "coherent" as an alternative to "sensical".

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