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Tuesday, 17 May 2016


When I was a member of the Edinburgh Photographic Society in the seventies weekly shows and critiques were divided between slides and prints - possibly prints were more respected, but if you were showing slides you had to get it right. My only "post-processing" was cropping by masking the glass mounted slides (usually with tinfoil if I remember)

Don't see why people have such a down on transparencies - it was tough but very satisfying to get a good one. And a well projected transparency often elicited audible murmurs of appreciation from the audience

In computer science it's been said "There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things." I'm not sure on the source, and there are other variants. But naming things is almost always in the list. So it's no surprise to me that there is a wide opinion on post processing, CER, and others.

Best of luck with CER catching on.

The term post processing is redundant. Post processing is a truncation of the phrase 'post-acqusition processing'. All image rendering occurs after the shutter closes. Other than that, it makes sense.

Scientists use the term 'data processing'. For instance, people conducting basic medical research using MRI or CT imaging say, "Now I have to spend all of tomorrow doing the data processing for today's experiments". They are processing data to create an informative image. Photographers do the same thing (using completely different methods). But photographers don't think about data, so 'data processing' also has no chance of catching on.

I completely agree editing is unsuitable as you efficiently explained.

Raw image development or raw development makes the most sense to me. Raw data processing replaces what happened in the darkroom. The fact is, virtual printing (rendering on a digital display) is orders of magnitude more common than replaced printing to physical media. Raw image rendering is a parallel process while wet-chemistry development and printing is a serial process.

The phrase 'raw development' has the same likelihood of replacing usage of Photoshopping, post or post processing as does CER... that is zero.

I rather like the fanciful phrase Jeff Schewe often uses, i.e. "image sculpting". However, "post processing" works just fine for me as well. I just don't see a pressing problem to eradicate the use of it in digital image processing. That said, I also tend to use "image editing" in reference to the act of selecting the best image from a sequence of "near frames", so "editing" is the most ambiguous term of all to me when it comes to working with digital images. I also tend to keep almost all of those near frames even when one in the group is obviously better. It adds a historical perspective to the sequence, and allow me to reconsider after the passage of times sometimes changes my perspective.

I don't think CER is an improvement. Abbreviations are pretty well always a bad idea, because they require specialist knowledge to decipher. Post-processing: nothing wrong with it. It means "Post-exposure-processing" shortened to "post-processing". Sounds fine to me, and it has the immense virtue of already being in wide usage. Looks like you are flogging a dead horse to me.

I just call it a 'PITA', because as much as I love the process of making photographs I hate the process of sitting down to C-E-R them.

Out of interest, is correcting converging verticals using the 'distort' tool in Photoshop, a C, E, or an R within your definition? I would hate to get my new found definitions wrong in case I became famous and someone outs me as a McCurry (no offence Mr. McCurry, I still love your work!).

Didn't we used to call it photo finishing? John Chase and Dennis also seem to be hearing that distant, ghostly echo from the past. But I disagree with Dennis in that I like (no, make that "desperately need") the finality implied in the term "finish". Sure, I may change my mind later, but for now--done!

It is not hard to tell if a digital photo has been manipulated, all you have to do is commit to memory the various sharpening algorithms from the major CMOS sensor manufacturers and their tonal response w/regard to human skin.

Having done this, one can tell when any photograph has been "post processed", no matter how subtle.

It is the job of the viewer to have the knowledge himself, and understand the language of digital in such a way as to know when a photographer is being dishonest.

(in·i·tial·ism iˈniSHəˌlizəm/noun
an abbreviation consisting of initial letters pronounced separately (e.g., CPU ))Just another thing we have to look up somewhere. A (bad) answer looking for a (non-existent) problem. Jeez Mike,I KNOW you have better things to do.

Having worked int he film and video industry we have several terms that could apply. We break the process into three phases: pre-production, production and finally post production. Pre production is everything before the image is actually captured. Production applies to capturing the image ... anything after that, is "post" production. Post production can be divided into several steps. Editing is the removal and reordering of of the raw images, similar to what you would call editing. Adding and removing layers or elements in the frame is called compositing and not editing. The last major step in post production is something called "finishing". Finishing is where the "Grading" is done. Colors are adjusted and levels are tweaked to the final state that the viewer would see. Now days with RAW video files the images are shot as flat as possible in order to facilitate the grading process. this is actuality more important in film/video since you see multiple shots immediately juxtaposed on the same screen. "Mastering" would be the formatting the files in their final form as they would be distributed or that distribution copies would be created from. maybe some of that terminology could migrate over?

"Process" also reminds people of "processed food", which is generally regarded as bad (by people who refer to it that way).

Face it, you just like 3 letter acronyms (TOP).

After trawling through the post and the comments a very bad joke came to mind.

Three men (feel free to alter nationalities and names) seek to enter the Olympics athletics venue, but have no tickets. Undaunted, they go to a nearby building site and help themselves to various items. The first carrying a scaffolding pole walks up to security and says, “Smith, England, pole vault.”, and is allowed to enter. The second man carrying a large concrete ball says, “McCloud, Scotland, shot putt.”, and like Smith is allowed to enter. Lastly, carrying several planks and a bag of nails comes “Murphy, Ireland, fencing.”

I have no quarrel with just 'processing', a long-established word in wide use. I regard my straight-out-of-camera images as 'unprocessed' (regardless of what camera settings were used) and those altered in any way with image processing software as 'processed'.

Kodachrome "snobbishness"? It was once a reality that if you desired to be published in 4-color magazines, you had few or no other acceptable options. Mostly this had to do with the requirements of the color separation houses that created the 4 plate CMYK print press negs. We learned one thing because there was only that one-demanding!-thing.
What to do with all the slides in pages was not solved with Cibachrome/Ilfochrome. I spent a number of years creating and selling prints in a wet color darkroom. Maybe a third of my select Kodachromes would print satisfactorily without a pin-registered contrast mask, one-third were improved by learning that arcane skill, and the remaining one-third did not print well regardless. Nearly 100% of the color print film negatives that I started shooting once I was in possession of a wet darkroom were printable. That was liberating. Later, I found hybrid scanning and printing processes were liberating from masked Cibachrome-- instantly superior, I really never looked back. Some of my color negs did not scan well (tones too compressed on the negative to scan well at 8 bits, and some so subtle that they posterize even scanned in 16bits). But I didn't lament leaving Kodachrome when better tech came along. Likewise, I didn't whinge when my first DSLR c.2007 gave me better color and better detail and 3 more stops in dynamic range than a scanned Kodachrome.
Shooting all those slides in 35mm gave me the notion to spend a great deal of money and time shooting 4x5 while the very best color film stocks ever made were still available (Astia! Pro 160S!)late in the aughts when DSLRs still couldn't hold a candle to a view camera transparency or neg. But at $100+ per 4x5 drum scan that 5 year body of work mostly populates boxes and binders, today...
Today no one cares or asks about process provided they like the print.

"It's clinical and has a disparaging connotation etc..."

Not for me, it doesn't. It doesn't carry any connotation at all.

It's a description of work done after the shot is taken. That's it.


...I don't really know if people are 'down' on transparencies. As a commercial/advertising photographer, that's all we used (hence the idea of getting it 'right' in camera: retouching was expensive, and either done with an airbrush on dye transfers, or with bleach and dye right on the transparency).

The only professional people using color neg were portrait photographers and wedding photographers: i.e. people whose primary usage was to deliver a color print. There were certainly some pretty ghastly color neg materials offered during my lifetime. From a commercial view, Ektar 100 has been about the best of them.

I still maintain that there were far fewer people in commercial photography because they couldn't get good results with transparency! Kept a whole lot of the riff-raff out of the business that's in it today. It's also why you read such horrible vilification of film on a lot of sites. There are people that live in fear that they're going to wake up one day and someones going to decide that film really did look better, and they won't be able to make the grade!

If folks spent more time snapping pics and less time worrying about naming the processes involved, the world might have a few more great photos to admire.

But then, could it be that the folks who can and do shoot that sort of image, are out shooting and not worrying about naming the specific activities involved?

I dunno. I gotta bunch of images to edit, (post)process, develop, fix......

Jack 8-p

"That whole chain is the "process," really. No part of it is "post""

If that's the case, what's wrong with calling it all "process"? There are many steps and phases to making a painting or sculpture, etc., but painters and sculptors don't refer to pre- and post-processes. "Preparation" of materials and "finishing" the end product with, say, varnish, perhaps, if they choose to distinguish those phases. Otherwise, it's all process.

Like Ranjit and GlennI also like the word "cook". It makes sense that that's what one does to raw files to make them not raw anymore. Negative connotations (like cooking books) but many more positive ones. But then one starts to wonder what a pickled or fermented photo would look like...

P.S. The other nice thing about "cook" is the implication that taste is involved on both sides of the result.

Plus One for everyone on here that says "post" is actually a shortened 'slang' term for post-production, not post processing, from the movie and video business (There was a video "post" house in the DC area called Pillar to Post).

As such, using "post" is the perfect term as it's post-production of the actual shoot. It defines everything done "in-post", including color work, timing, editing, audio, sound-track recording and writing, etc.

I DO recall using the term "post" in still photography to refer to anything that happened after we delivered the film, including retouching, BUT, scanning, color moves, and print driven retouching was referred to as "pre-press".

@Crabby Umbo - my point exactly


As a video guy one of the most feared expressions you can hear is "we'll fix it in post".
C-E-R seems fine to me but if you don't like acronyms how about "fettled"?

"Polishing", as someone has said before, works for me. Sometimes I might use "sweetening".

I like C-E-R, as it makes some valid and much needed distinctions. I'm tempted to suggest, though, that you change it to C-E-L:

Correction, Enhancement, Lying.

But maybe the lying comes later.

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