‘Post-production’ in digital photography is an interesting term. Sometimes frowned upon by some photographic purists who might embrace traditional darkroom endeavour. For me the digital darkroom is little different from anything I used to do in the traditional darkroom. When I shot film – I had usually chosen my film before heading to a location and would already have experimented with developers/films combinations and printing papers I’d use, or knew the colour characteristics of my film stock and how it reacted to different colour temperatures of light and how I may have to filter if required. With digital, the process – while a little different and sometimes easier – is just as critical.
Post-production- for me anyway while shooting landscapes – is the subtle art of refining and interpreting your image whilst preserving the integrity of the scene. Perhaps a small de-saturation of an element is all that’s required, some tonal changes may be necessary, maybe the blues captured by the sensor are too vivid, and understanding the possibility of what can be done as I work is part of my creative process – which is where the ‘post’ part slightly jars with me. The prefix ‘post’ means something that happens afterwards, but an appreciation of what is possible while I work helps me pre-visualise my images as I study my compositions. In my opinion the art of post-production – and I do consider it an art – is crucial to my photographic development and practice. I need to ‘feel’ my shot as I work.
This can only work if your post-production doesn’t become formulaic and that’s where the ‘art’ comes in. Sometimes I’ll process a shot and then leave it for a few days and go back to the RAW file and work it again without looking at my first attempt before comparing them together – maybe I’ll repeat this a few times. The differences can often be subtle – occasionally dramatic. It’s good to live with an image for a while and discover how you really feel about it and see it. Try it and discover for yourself – it works for me.