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Light is Everything - Post processing can only help.

05th March 2018
As a landscape photographer I believe what I do depends on the quality of the light I am working with; that is why I am prepared to keep going back to a location as well as taking time while there. Landscape photography is not something to be rushed.

It is far, far better to take one’s time on location and to come back with a good exposure than to rush what should be so enjoyable and to come home with an image that is disappointing. Now a question; what is a good exposure? Well what it is not is an image that is perfect and ready to go to press without any adjustment. For a start the image file is a RAW file and as such is no more than the negative of film days. It absolutely needs post processing (PP) to improve sharpness and colours and almost certainly to remove dust spots and minor imperfections at the very least. Beyond that it may require both global as well as local adjustment of tonality and contrast.

A good exposure will be one in which the histogram shows that both the highlights and shadows are contained within the histogram’s boundaries so that there is detail in the highlights as well as the shadows. It will also be one in which the light on the scene was favourable.

What PP will not do is make a silk purse from a sows ear. An exposure made in poor light can not be readily processed to satisfactorily replicate what might have been in the best light, the nearest that can be achieved, and only then with a lot of PP, is an image which is better than none at all. This is not to say it is not worth making an exposure in poor light but you may be better off thinking in terms of subjects that work with the light that is available; monochrome or monotone image can be worth looking for in these sorts of conditions.

The Great Ridge in Derbyshire shot in good light before and after processing.

Canal scene on the Grand Union canal shot in poor light and heavily processed. Despite all the work it still lacks the authenticity of good light.

Various scenes shot in conditions when the light could have been better but which still made appealing images.

A stormy dawn on the Cobb at Lyme Regis.

Winter on Rannoch Moor.

A muted dawn on the Norfolk coast.

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