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How much processing is enough?

05th November 2016
When giving talks to photographic societies I often advise those present to process a picture until they are happy with and to then leave it for a few days, or longer. Do not print or share it on the internet. After a break is is easier to see a few simple adjustments that will make a good picture better, if you do you may later regret showing something which, in the end, is not your best work.

On Tuesday last week I was in Derbyshire and captured this lovely autumn scene.

It took very little processing and I was pleased with the image. Despite wanting to add it to my website I held off and came back to it on date. I immediately saw there was a significant area of grass that had bands of sunlight running across it which were not showing up to full advantage.

One simple brushstroke in Adobe Lightroom made a small but significant difference.

And how much processing is too much?

I don't believe there is a definitive answer to this since largely it is a matter of personal preference. Capturing the image is about the photographers eye and the science of photography. Processing it, unless you are looking for a true record of something, is artistic interpretation. High key, low key, the level of contrast and saturation are gallup to you, along with any other changes you choose to make to the original information in each part of the image.


Photo comment By Lesley Line: I would have to agree Bill, the processing part of photography is where te i get to put my own stamp on an image and I do agree this is artistic interpretation. Wise advice about not rushing to put a picture on social media or printing off until you have had time to come back to the image with fresh eyes, I always feel my photos are work in progress and I almost hate admitting its finished in case I've missed something. ☺

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