Is post production more important than Gear?

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by wt21, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I have been using LR for about 3 years now, but I consistently see eye-popping results from Pros, often using the same gear that I'm using (e.g. Robin Wong using an OMD), but with better results.

    I've been switching gear for the last couple of years, mainly to reduce size -- look for a size/IQ balance. I'm pretty happy with what I've learned and what I'm using, though I reserve the right to switch again.

    But, I'm beginning to feel my real issue is not in my gear, but in my post-production. I'm also beginning to believe I'm very bored with the "shoot it as I saw it" motif. Getting the colors accurate, etc. and have begun to like filters -- be it applied in camera or post.

    Overall, though, it seems to me that I should stop messing around with gear -- because honestly it's all really great and competent -- and learn how to better handle post. Also, explore a "look" that I could call my own, and begin applying to shooting sets. Whether it's just tone curve adjustments, or application of vignetting, etc. or maybe even different kinds of fun filters (I'm a home/hobbyist, so I just shoot for myself).

    Anyone else have any thoughts/input? Do you think exploring gear, at some point, loses it's appeal/efficacy, and really it's post production as to where the results are at?
     
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  2. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I think there are gradients to gear, and once you're in a certain quality bracket, it's either post production OR your ability to frame and shoot. But if you're seeing real differences on like-for-like subject matter & lighting from a pro with your same level of gear, then I guess it's probably pp. But once you get something with a great sensor and great glass, then I personally feel the gear's job is to get out of your way and let you quickly / easily do what you're imagining.
     
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  3. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
  4. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    There is a lot you can learn about PP, but it can be overwhelming too. I learn chunks at a time. I tend to use RAW Developer which has far fewer options than LR, but I use LR too. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface with LR. Another aspect to this is simply getting to know your camera, which takes time.

    I'm at a point where I'm keeping what gear I have for now and focusing more on aesthetics, PP and printing. I really want to be a better photographer and the gear can't make that happen until I rise to its capabilities.
     
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  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Give me a decent cel phone photo and 5 minutes in post and I'll destroy the same shot made with a full frame camera SOOC. (possibly overstated for dramatic effect, but you get my point)
     
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  6. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf SC Top Veteran

    868
    Apr 25, 2011
    Western NC
    I don't have time to sit in front of the computer and "tinker". I do my best to capture the scene in front of me with the right exposure and framing. I have two presets I've created in Aperture, one for color and the other for B&W. I've assigned "Hot" keys for both and will create a version of each in post. Then some minor tweaking with Exposure, Highlights/Shadows and Mid Contrast. I'm done.

    Occasionally I will export to Silver Efex Pro for B&W. I only go that route to selectively increase or decrease a dark or bright area and to maybe add some structure for additional "pop".

    That's it.

    I believe I'm retaining the same look across my images by post processing in this manner.

    I also like shooting wide open. That's the look I want.
     
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  7. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    aren't the results generated at the time of pressing the shutter release?

    by which I mean, that's the point at which you know what the end image will look like ... you will have seen the composition and the colour and the tonal range and any possible pp work in your "mind's eye" won't you?

    (I'm desperately trying to avoid using the words "vision" or "visualisation" or "pre-visualisation" :smile: )
     
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  8. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    When you say "you" do you mean me?

    The answer is no. This might be what Gary (or others) do, but I don't have the ability to see the shot all the way to the end at the moment of capture.
     
  9. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin SC Top Veteran

    681
    Nov 15, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    isn't it a bit like back in the film-days? Everybody had more or less the same cameras/film, but to get the best results, you wouldn't go to the 1hour-photo, but develop yourself (or have a pro develop it)? :)
     
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  10. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I was using "you" in rather a generalised way I'm afraid.

    I think this is an ability that can be learned, however.
     
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  11. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I'll just say that film is still alive! However it's not true to say that everyone had the same sort of film - there was a huge variety available in former years, and while there is less variety these days, I still manage to have 12 different kinds in my 'fridge (this, by the way, makes me bit of a film tart, in the same way that some people are camera tarts)
     
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  12. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    ^ good analogy, but it goes even farther now, as you can manipulate an image even more than you could before.
     
  13. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    whether you see the finished photo in your mind at the time of capture isn't super relevant to the conversation. And in the end result it's also not that important. It's cool and it will be easier to get to your end processed result when you can see the completed shot at the time of capture. But there's all different types of shooters and any way you do it that gets you the results you;re after is the right way.

    Either way, nearly every shot benefits from some level of tweaking. Start watching videos on using Lightroom since you have that. There's tons of 'em out there. Also experiment. I still process with a fairly heavy hand, but the only way I learned how far is too far is by going over the edge (more than a few times). It's all part of the leaning curve.
     
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  14. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    I think it's rather like making a meal and adding various seasonings. The basic food is there but you can alter the character with various flavours. I'm a big fan of ready made filters. I do my basic pp in LR and add various filters until I get the feel I'm after. I used to be swayed by various cameras because of the colour signature but now realize that this is the most easily altered characteristic! It would be lovely to be able to take the perfect picture but sadly my skills are just not up to it :)
     
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  15. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I've seen lots of the videos. It's not how to use LR, but the art of PP I'm wondering about. I understand each and every slider, but I think I'd almost be better off downloading a bunch of presets, looking at what they do to a picture, and seeing where the presets move the sliders, etc. Is the interaction of the various tools, not the tools themselves, that might be more important (at least to me at this point).
     
  16. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    That's funny! I was just about to reference you in my last post! I was going to say that I love your use of filters. When I see your pics, I think you have a certain style that you gravitate towards. I need to start working on that.
     
  17. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    I actually try to get the exposure as close to "right" as I am able, and the angle of view, as well as basic crop, before shutter press. Then final crop, resize, shadow/highlight, and maybe a bit of edge sharpening, in PS.
     
  18. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I think that upgrading your processing software can often give the same result as upgrading your camera. As I've tried to learn how to process I've also attempted to learn at the same time to "shoot-to-process", as in:

    - Knowing how you intend to process an image as you click the shutter (colour, b&w, high key, low key, etc)
    - Knowing where the limits of under and overexposure will be in a raw file
    - Pushing towards the right hand limit (ETTR) in the knowledge that you will adjust the exposure back later on
    - Allowing margins if you intend to apply perspective correction as well as the normal margins for printing/framing

    There is an old saying that processing images is for people you can't get it right in camera. While that does show a fair lack of knowledge on the idea, it is sometimes true because to get an image right for processing it won't necessarily look right as it comes directly out of the camera.

    Compared to when I first started messing around with processing I have throttled back significantly on the variety of processing that I do. A lot of my Silver Efex and Color Efex filters now sit unused in favour of a cleaner look that is mostly achieved in the Lightroom conversion as opposed to using effects filters. Probably the biggest lesson that I have learnt is how influential it is to control exposure, whether it be through highlight and shadow recovery, overall exposure, and the big one: tone curve manipulation.
     
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  19. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    Same gear, same Lightroom, different use of light. That's where I'd be looking first. Sure post processing makes a huge difference, but not as much as improving your lighting.

    Gordon

    p.s. this is a generalisation not an opinion of your shooting personally.
     
  20. Xuereb

    Xuereb SC Veteran

    380
    Nov 5, 2010
    W. Australia
    If exposure, composition & white balance are right before pressing the button, the processing needs to be minimal. After this, depending on light conditions, one might then need to fiddle with contrast, dodge and burn a little, sharpen a tiny bit and no more. However, I find as with film, the bigger the sensor, the less one needs to fiddle.