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Untouched photographs - do folk do them?

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by MarthaRuby, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. MarthaRuby

    MarthaRuby Well-Known Member

    Hubby has joined a local photography club. There have been 2 presentations in as many weeks about Photoshop. He wants to learn how to take photographs and improve his photo-taking skills, not how to take OK photos that can then be tweaked. Reading the various photography forums etc online there is a lot of discussion about how to improve/enhance photographs using different means once that button has been pressed. So, I'm wondering, is this the norm - do people not just take good(ish) photographs that they dont feel the need to enhance or is it expected nowadays. Also, if a photograph is being entered into a competition how can it be judged fairly if it is a straight from the camera image against others that have been tweaked? By the way I dont have an opinion either way- we are new to this therefore new to the concept - just curious.
  2. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Well this thread should run for a while. It comes up every few months and gets a good response, although the "leave it as it is" mob have rather died out recently. Of course anyone entering a pic for anything is probably going to have to do something to it. Doesn't mean it is a poor pic, but the standards of perfection have gone up like the side of a barn in the last 15 years or so.
    Main point is to accept that there is no such thing as untouched photographs. The camera touches them in lots of ways. Are you saying he wants to produce perfect shots in raw with no sharpening and no white balance? I wouldn't try it.
    What appears on your screen is not in any way natural, or necessarily truer to the original. It is just what a bunch of electronics thrown together by a guy in Japan decided. He never saw what you pointed the camera at, even less understood what you wanted to achieve.
    But you are right that there are a lot of mediocre photographers spending vast amounts of time trying to turn poor shots into great ones electronically. Good luck to them, you can spot them a mile off. For many the computer is more interesting than the camera and vastly more interesting than the shots they are able to see.
  3. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    You might want to stand back from the powder keg on this one, it's a startlingly emotive subject!

    Photographers have manipulated what they have taken almost from the very start - look up Rjelander and "Two Ways of Life" for a particularly magnificent example of Victorian photo manipulation - but the tools now available make it much easier for many more people to do. Even if you took a roll of 35mm down to Boots, they (or their photo machine) will adjust the exposures for "best" results, according to their presets, when printed, so a certain amount of adjustment is always made - if you shoot JPEGs, for example, the camera makes those adjustments for you and produces what it thinks is the best results for the scene in front of it. So yes, it's accepted and regularly done.

    On the other hand, it's difficult to polish a turd (I have seen one example on here in the last couple of months where someone came damn close to succeeding) so I have a great deal of sympathy with your hubby's view and I personally take the view that the more you have right in the picture in the first place when you press that button, the better. You will need to do less to it to get the best from it, and there is more potential if you want to do more it.

    That's my penn'orth!

  4. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    There are, and always have been, different views on this. Pre-digital, it was considered an essential skill to be able to "dodge and burn" prints, in order to enhance the original negative. Because transparencies were mostly mass processed by commercial labs, what you saw projected on the screen was seldom the result of manipulating the film.

    When digital came in, image editors were inevitable and seem to be treated by most people as an essential part of the process, in the same way as the print manipulation I mentioned above.

    It all comes down to what you want from your photography.
  5. MarthaRuby

    MarthaRuby Well-Known Member

    Hi, thanks for that. I tink what we thought when we bought our cameras is that we wanted to take decent photographs using only the camera. We're not really great with computers, nor want to be, and hadnt envisaged hours sitting at one learning yet another bit of software (never gave it a thought). I'm wondering if hubby wanted to enter a photograph at some point into a competition at his club he is immediately at a disadvantage if his image is not tweaked (hypothetically - he hasnt yet got the skill even to take a good photograph lol). A whole new world for us.
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    It certainly should be possible: a digital camera image is much like a slide (for example the late, lamented Kodachrome) and there was nothing you could do about those. The argument that the camera has already "retouched" the file is nonsense: the sensor and its associated software give you a picture, the same way that film ind processing do. Yes, a particular camera may give you a particular look, but then, so did a particular film.

    It's often quicker and easier to adjust colour balance in post production than to use filters and a fixed colour temperature, as you do with film. And adjusting exposure is easier than bracketing, as you do with slides if you're uncertain about the best exposure -- though of course bracketing with digital is free. After that... Well, you can adjust contrast if you want. None of this takes long, though, and most can be by-passed if you find it easier to treat the digital file like a slide.

    In other words, don't do any post-processing unless or until you find yourself saying, "That picture would be better if..."


  7. mikehit

    mikehit Well-Known Member

    I think you can break 'touching up a photo' into two distinct parts.

    The first is the global proessing and this starts at the point you press the shutter. The sensor records the amount of light and the camera software converts the signals to an image - and if you take jpeg only, the way the camera records the image will be affected by the settings you use: do you under or over expose the image, the white balance you set, the jpeg setting you use (lanscape, portrait or one of the fancy art modes). If you thin about it this is the same as we used to do with film: choose the type of film for the job (Fuji for green in landscapes, Kodak for the reds; fine grain or heavy grain for an emotive effect etc).
    If you take raw images, the same can still apply if you choose one setting type in the processing program, or if you tweak the 'exposure' slider to brighten or darken the whole image.
    This, I think is where your husband is coming from - correct only overall issues but get it as close to correct as you can in the camera.

    The second type of processing is more selective and can come at different levels: you can selectively boost/reduce one colour, or recover shadows leaving the highlights unaffected. or you can start fritzing around with all sorts of things: cleaning spots, erasing unwanted objects etc.

    Some wildlife competitions used to allow global changes (the first type above) and you had to send in your raw image to prove that was all you had done.

    I am also one for 'get it right in camera', partly for my own ego and secondly I would rather be out taking more photos than spending hours tweaking the ones I have. I have won club competitions with images that have only global changes and I am sure many others on here have done so as well so he does not need to worry about that, IMO.
  8. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Did your husband prefer to send his films to Boots for a set of prints or did he prefer to either send them to a specialist or print them himself in a darkroom.

    I have always felt that the darkroom/computer are part of the craft of photography.
  9. MarthaRuby

    MarthaRuby Well-Known Member

    Neither of us have been into photography before. Our films were either held into Boots or lay about a cupboard till they were (shamefully) thrown out. In later years we have enjoyed taking photographs with our holiday-snap digital cameras but again did nothing with them, in general, afterwards. We have been looking for a new hobby we can incorporate with our outdoor/camping lifestyle and consideration for elderly dog who is no longer able to do long walks. We have never been aware of enhanced imagery before now, rather naively thougt you buy a camera, point it at a subject and shoot - voila - a photograph of varying quality dependant on your photographic skill. Now we are learning a whole new vocabularly and skill and all the processes that go along with it. We have no opinions on this - we only want to learn if/when/should we be considering photo enhancement as part of our hobby. In general is there an expectation that if you enter a competition the photo will he edited for example. I am interested in all comments, for, against or neutral ad it is all part of our learning and understaing.
  10. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    There seems to be a bit of a theme developing of "Get as good as you are happy with, then, if you start wanting to go further with an image or images, think about post-processing".

    That strikes me as being pretty sensible, and in line with your (plural) current interests.

  11. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    You can do as much or as little "retouching" - usually called image editing or post production (PP) - as you like, although from the point of entering competitions, it's probably true to say that there are more opportunities for shots that look better with a bit of PP than there are for shots straight out of camera (OOC).

    However, there's quite a lot that can be done to adjust the look of a digital image without going near a computer. Buried in the menus is probably a section called "Picture Styles" or "Photo Settings" (not sure exactly what Olympus call it) which will allow you to change the white balance, colour saturation, and contrast before you take a picture. Some cameras even allow you to make changes after a picture has been taken, in certain circumstances. Though using a computer to make adjustments afterwards will give you finer control, and probably a greater range of adjustment, as well as being easier to make several "tweaks" until you get it looking just right.

    But it's up to you whether you want to make adjustments to get a look that you like - or in the case of competition entries, what you think the judges will like!
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014
  12. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It is more important to enjoy what you are doing than worry too much about what other people might expect. I think it is generally true that some fine-tuning can "improve" most images whilst heavy-handed processing can ruin them. These days I do something to most images but that is because I don't much care for the default import settings in Lightroom and have not tried to set up any better defaults. I hardly did anything when I used Canon software beyond removing dust ( my camera does not have self-cleaning) and choosing a preset develop style. I aim to get exposure right when I am out but I don't set manual white balance and I don't alter the picture style according to subject as I prefer to post-process for that. Just adopt a work pattern that suits you and don't feel obligated to follow others.
  13. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    There is quite a simple (although maybe not very helpful) answer to that poser.

    If he sees a "scene" (or sets one up) that he thinks is pictorially good enough to win a competition and he then competently captures that scene with his camera so that the print or projected image is faithful to the scene he "took", then there is no reason why it should not do well in a competition.

    In some categories of competition (e.g. wildlife/nature) any manipulation which "alters the truth" of the image is banned. In others, such as "creative", it is expected. But for landscapes and portraits, a well composed and competently executed image should be capable of being appreciated by the competition judge. At camera club competitions it is far more common for a judge to criticise a photograph because it has been "over-manipulated" than the reverse.
  14. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    This is correct, but rules usually allow essentials like levels to be adjusted. There are many reasons why they might not be right.

    If he learns the discipline we all did in the olden days of 35mm slides, when there was no chance to do anything, he should be quite OK. But he will need to develop some skill and a good eye to do that. Sounds like he doesn't want to bother with what the computer can do, but is quite content to let the camera use its computer to set aperture etc? Or will he be measuring the light and deciding that for himself? There are many conditions in which the camera will get it completely wrong. Will he be using his judgement to adjust in camera?
    There are some genres that require less "perfection" than others and street or seeing eye photography are a couple. But take a landscape that has a pylon on the horizon and he can expect the worst. Shoot a portrait with someone who has a spot or two and he will be asking for docked points.
    He will need to choose his subjects carefully.
  15. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    It depends on the camera to a large extent - with my Olympus I get a higher percentage right first time than I do with the Canon, but that does not stop me using the Canon a lot and accepting that sometimes levels, sharpness etc will have to be changed. However for adjustments of that sort I use a very intuitive free editor and that seems to be little different from choosing the right grade of paper in my darkroom days. If you exclude that sort of processing as not being manipulation and just think of adjusting verticals, layers etc. as manipulation then only about 5-10% of my output is manipulated.
  16. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    I'd just like to remind the original poster, at this point, that you can follow the advice given here but if, like me, you're not of a competitive mind, you might find yourself frustrated at all the "rules" you're being introduced to.

    If this is, as you say, a new hobby, you can simply take pictures of the things you find interesting and ignore all of this. Moreover, if the pictures you get please you, don't feel you need to make pictures to please others. There are oh, so many other reasons for taking pictures than represented by a forum like this.

    This picture will never win any prizes but it tells a little story, about a Confirmation Day parade in an Austrian village, which is just what I wanted it to do...

  17. MarthaRuby

    MarthaRuby Well-Known Member

    Some very interesting comments. Thanks.

    I think at our early stage of learning we will try and just perfect the basics of how to take a good photograph using the technology within the camera. When and if we ever master that we might feel we want to learn how to improve our photographs once taken. I dont know if we will ever get to that stage though as we just want "to take pictures!" I might research some software - just in case.
  18. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    Yep, get the camera sorted out first of all and then take it from there.

    I shoot exclusively on film, even though I then scan the results. For me, possibly the most important aspect of 'post-production' is the ease of cropping the picture rather than tweaking colours etc.
  19. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    Have a look at a free program from Google - Picasa. It is simple to operate and may do all that you require of post processing. I have been taking pictures for over 30 years and find Picasa very good, doing most of what I require.
  20. MarthaRuby

    MarthaRuby Well-Known Member

    Will do, thanks. Simple to operate was the key phrase!

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