Photoshop Processing – When should you process your images?
Lets talk about Photoshop Processing Techniques. Its 2023 at the time of the last update, and for anyone who really ‘does’ Australian landscape photography, there are a few key ideas you need to get. Forget JPEGs. Image capture involves two steps:-
1. Capture the landscape as you see it as a RAW file to create an image
2. Process the image to make a photograph
There is another step, of course, real Landscape photographers print their photographs, especially if they make available their photos for sale – more about that here. I’ll repeat, it’s a two-step process.
So, when do you process your images?
There are a couple of schools of thought.
1. Firstly that you were ‘in the moment’ when you took the photo and so you must remember exactly how it looked, right? Photoshop away, ignoring loved ones, meal times, urgent appointments with your bank manager, until you have The Finished Masterpiece an hour or so later.
2. Secondly, you come home, catch up with friends, avoid the family, and enjoy a beer (or herbal tea) and rest. Processing can wait until you have a clear head and are refreshed..
Which one is correct?
The answer is both and neither, but let me offer a few thoughts… and of course you should shoot RAW – more on that here
The interworld is full of the ‘Now!’ – Instagram is indeed all about this Instant, and Facebook is similar. Landscape photographs of tonight’s sunset, this morning’s dawn, abound in everyone’s feeds. Images of last week’s sunrise are in some ways as interesting as last weekend’s Herald. Tho to be fair, you can’t wrap your takeaway fish and chips in your image. Well I hope not. So there is some value in getting out your image onto social media Right Here Right Now. In addition, let’s say you had a certain feeling when you took the image. If you process it just afterwards you can capture that feeling more accurately in your processing – for instance ‘the most purple sunset I have ever seen’ – or ‘the mistiest dreamiest clouds in the valley’.
Now, let’s talk about the two-step process. Most people who take Australian photographs are likely Aussies, and maybe a bit laid back? Why rush? Get it right first time and every time. Are you a pro? You have landscape photography prints for sale, don’t you, so they need to be great. Even if you don’t have photos for sale, there is a subtle, but important mindset difference in doing a good job. For me, I am a great ‘reflector’. No! not a piece of white card, I like to look at things a couple of times. Process once with a few basic layers, get the image ‘about right’ then leave overnight. Come back the next day, wow! The shadows are far too deep, and adjust. The next day, oh gosh, the sky looks just too intense, dial the oranges back a bit.
And that is until you decide to print. Read more about again that here. (If you didn’t last time). I can safely say that I have tweaked every image after I have looked at a printed version for a few days or weeks. So, we assume we always process for printing, rather than for instant family ‘n’ friends satisfaction on the interweb. Thus there is much more to it than getting an image on Facebook within half an hour of getting home.
I hope this has made you think.
If it has, let me add another few cents. I have talked to a number of eminent Australian landscape photographers on this topic. Specifically – how long do you take to process/create a landscape photograph? A minimum of three hours tweaking was mentioned – per image. Not less than three weeks elapsed per image (or images in a batch) was also mentioned. So, some folks are taking a long time – these are the ones you don’t see, the photographers that don’t post ‘this morning’s sunset’ – or if they do, they post a phone grab, or a video.
Me? I like to choose two – maybe three – ‘hero’ images from a given shoot. I will start processing, and it is normal that I will discard one as I start the processing – as I think it is not up to scratch. These one of two are the ones that make it on to my Facebook and Instagram pages. However, if I shoot a lot, there will be a lot of shoots that I do not post anything from, as I have enough material to keep Facebook and Instagram happy. (I will post a usual maximum of three images per week). So I get a backlog. I then process a backlog in a very random order, but it gives me the chance to get it right for printing. Flipside? I do spend too much time gunning for perfection.
It’s also worth thinking about your approach if you have the proverbial ‘Landscape Photographs For Sale’ on your site. People do not search online to buy a hurriedly processed canvas or framed print of ‘this morning’s sunrise’. Rather, they will slowly identify with a photographer and browse through the online offerings or visit your gallery. Then they may purchase a Landscape Photograph. Impulse purchases are also made from whatever is displayed, whenever it is displayed time-wise (i.e. same day or weeks later … As such, in my opinion, it makes sense to ‘get it right’…
Over to you, time for Photoshop processing – or is it?
Thanks for reading this far.
Andrew Barnes – I do Berowra Photography