Adventures in Babysitting Your Post-Processing Software

Harp Player in the Park

Here are a couple snaps I took last week in Golden Gate Park, in between the De Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences. I'm experimenting with Nik Efex 4 to see what I can accomplish .  These trials with different Post-Processing techniques are proving to me that I should do more than just take the shot.  I should take some time after the fact to really make it sing.  The full workflow is:  Adobe Lightroom 4 -> Photoshop CS6  -> Nik Efex 4  (all on Mac).

Some people will tell you that this is an an abomination, and that one is no longer being accurate.  The argument goes that if one is going to so heavily process the image, why not just take up painting instead?

My response:

I always wished I could paint or draw.  Maybe this is my chance to fulfill that dream.  If post-processing allows me to create something more fantastic, why not take that opportunity?  It's not like I'm claiming it's anything other than that.

Furthermore, all photography is an abstraction to some degree.  No two eyes or sensors see things in exactly the same way.  Just the difference in dynamic range between the human eye and a camera sensor means a camera is never going to be accurate in many lighting situations (like dusk).  Add to this the fact that all cameras do a lot of internal image processing.  Post-processing is also about getting that final print to align with reality in some way, whether it is to be more accurate to why the human eye perceives  or to capture the emotional impact on the viewer.

The results:

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