What do you think separates a good photographer from a great or even an extraordinary photographer? For us photographers, we consider elements like lighting and composition to define what pieces of work inspire or captivate us. But for many others, a nice picture might be described as conveying emotion, creating interest or placing us in an environment or scene we have not experienced before. However, although much thought goes into taking the shot, like cookie dough, there is much work that must be done before it gets served at The Cookie Corner (personal favorite).
Introducing the world of RAW images...
This, for many photographers, is a touchy subject and has been one that I have tip-toed around for awhile. When someone takes pictures on an automatic/point-and-shoot camera, the camera sets up your settings to balance the lighting in the scene in front of you as well as automatically adjusting for saturation and contrast.
When I take a picture, I adjust my settings for lighting but default my settings to leave the additional contrast and saturation for post production. Like a model without make-up, many photographers shift uncomfortably with showing their RAW images to the public. For some, it's a sign of vulnerability - a way for others to see the flaws in their exposure or composition that they try to compensate for with editing. For others, they would just rather sell baked cookies versus cookie dough. Admittedly, when I first started out my photography, I, like many, fell into the first category. I didn't want to show people that my pictures weren't 'perfect' or that my pictures were blown out because I mistakenly exposed for the wrong subject or used the wrong lighting. However, as I've grown throughout my photography, I've learned to accept my mistakes and use them to better myself. Editing is no longer a way to counter insecurities or mask flaws from others, but a way to pursue perfection in my images in a way that I see fit.
Below are some of my *GASP* RAW, unedited images side-by-side with their edited, finished counterparts.
- This shot is one that I did from a wedding a few weeks ago. Using a shady area to control my lighting, I exposed for their faces to maintain proper lighting and then darkened the background and bumped up color and contrast in post-production (PP). -
- This was another shot from a wedding I did a couple weeks ago. I underexposed a little bit for their faces to make sure the background wasn't completely blown out. The window of the church was used as my reflector/fill light to bounce the strong, mid-day sun. -
- In PP I darkened the background as well as bumping colors and contrast.-
- In this shot from my engagement shot last weekend, I used the intense afternoon sunlight on their backs as a rim light to create separation from the background, while underexposing a tad to maintain details. The mirrors of a buildling across the field we were at was able to bring up some of the shadows in their faces. -
- In PP, I brought up the colors and contrast of the background, while decreasing the shadows in the face. I polished off the photo with a little vignetting to enhance the subjects. -
- Shooting with the sun on my back, this shot was mainly about keeping my composure.This wave was about six or seven feet tall in the face and it was breaking onto a sandbar covered by a foot of water. I had been thinking about this shot for awhile and it took a long time of calming my nerves before I sat in the impact zone and snapped this shot.
- The finished product - I enhanced the colors as well as upped the contrast so that the water would really sparkle from the sunlight to convey a sort of peace right before impact. -
All in all, to me, editing is my way of either 1) making my photos look as natural as possible or 2) creating a mood that conveys what I'm trying to express. Sure, there are times that I get a bad exposure or an off-white balance that I have to compensate for with some editing, but for the most part, photography is in capturing the moment. Anyone can buy a camera. Anyone can do my edits. But having taken that picture and calling it yours... that's something I find most valuable.
I sell cookies.