03.05.2013

Hudson Valley NY Photographer | Different post processes

The longer I am in this photography industry the more I see the ‘image’ processed so many different ways. What makes each Hudson Valley NY Photographer different should definitely be the way an image is captured but in this digital age it has also become how a person PROCESSES their image!

Some processes have become fads while others have become classic. I’ve read and heard so much debating/arguments and essays about the state of post processing and the over-use of ‘actions’ (actions are a Photoshop process that quickly converts your original image to a different color, effect or a black and white instead of doing each step by hand). I admit to using actions but I am quite selective in what I present to my clients.

I like to think of myself as a classic ‘post-process’ photographer (classic = making the image look as close/real as to how it was shot as possible…and because the image comes out very similar to how it was shot in camera, classic = timeless). However, I do find myself enjoying some of the processing ‘fads’ that are currently popular in the industry. In my gallery presentation to clients I always give a mix of classic color/black and white, vintage color/bw and and maybe a cross-process. Early in my business I use to use textures but I found they just weren’t my style.

There truly are way too many processes out there. Here I will attempt to write about some of my favorites and some that just miss the mark for me! My hopes are to give a visual and a comparison to some of the processes out there. At the end of the post is a collage study with some other processes that currently seem popular! Enjoy!

Original, straight-out-of-camera, no processing or cropping done - for comparison

Original, straight-out-of-camera, no processing or cropping done – for comparison

Here is my classic color process to compare. My normal process consists of a stronger contrast with a slight color boost, basic skin smoothing and a slightened unsharp mask...that's it!

Here is my classic color process to compare. My normal process consists of a stronger contrast with a slight color boost, basic skin smoothing, a slight unsharp mask, cleaning up some unsightly elements with patch/healing tool and a crop adjustment (cropping is not done on all photos, only when I think it could benefit)…that’s it!

This is a very current processing fad that I have mixed feelings about. It consists of over-exposing and brightening the image to the point where skin becomes 'milky' and everything around them seems 'dreamy' and 'soft', some might even say the process is 'romantic'. Everyone has their preferences and mine tend to be more true skin tones, stronger contrast and richer colors. I would have to say this current processing fad is at it's popular height in the wedding industry!

This is a very current processing fad that I am really not liking! It consists of over-exposing and brightening the skin to the point where tones become ‘milky white’. Some say the effect causes a ‘dreamy’ and ‘romantic’ outcome. I definitely like when skin tones are truer to what they look like in real life…I mean, we ALL cannot be ‘milky white’ but this process certainly tries even on the darkest skin tones and to me it is not pleasing! Unfortunately, this seems to be the ‘it’ process in today’s photography world. I figure, eventually, people will start asking for their skin tones back so I will refrain from ever using this process!

The creamy vintage process has caused so much debate in the photography community! The process requires a photo filter and a working of colors more in the yellow/orange/cream area to give that warmish, old color look. There are many in the industry that loathe this process and go as far as calling this process the 'pee-in-the-sky' edit because of the change of an over-processed white sky to change yellowish. While other photographers have made a comfy living using this process as their signature 'look'. You can be the judge...I like this look indoors or where the face is the main subject.

The creamy vintage process has caused so much debate in the photography community! The process requires a photo filter and a working of colors more in the yellow/orange/cream area to give that warmish, old color look. There are many in the industry that loathe this process and go as far as calling this process the ‘pee-stained sky’ edit because it adds yellow into an over-exposed white sky (but looks lovely when your skies are blue). Many photographers have made a comfy living using this process as their signature ‘look’. I like and use this look mostly when my subjects are indoors or where the face is the main subject.

This process is a Vintage Haze. It's competition is the over-exposed process I just showed. The process consists of laying a 'hazey' layer on top of a vintage colored image. This process is just as popular as the previous. My thoughts are this type of process looks much better on newborn baby shots than wedding shots but again this is only my opinion.

This process is a Vintage Haze. It’s competition is the over-exposed process I just showed. The process consists of laying a ‘hazey’ layer on top of a vintage colored image. This process is just as popular as the previous. My thoughts are this type of process looks much better on newborn baby shots than wedding shots but again this is only my opinion.

Vintage Black and White is one of my favorite processes. It adds a hint of reds in with the traditional black and white tone to give a modern and much more pleasing look as a sepia tone. Blacks and darker colors tend to get richer and the whites have a slight contrast pop. However, I may really enjoy this conversion but many of my clients tend to like the matte black and white better (shown later in post).

Vintage Black and White is one of my favorite processes. It adds a hint of yellow in with the traditional black and white tone to give a modern and much more pleasing look as a sepia tone. Blacks and darker colors tend to get richer and the whites have a slight contrast pop. However, I may really enjoy this conversion but many of my clients tend to like the matte black and white better (shown later in post).

Extreme Pop borderlines towards an extreme/HD edit. Sharpness is exaggerated bringing out more details in the shadows and darker colors. You see a version of this in some print ads. The process in even more extremes will make the illusion of snake-like skin. I love this for more edgy, avante garde or  abstract subjects/sessions. Look up Dave Hill to get a more real sense of this processing effect.

Extreme Pop borderlines towards an extreme/HD edit. Sharpness is exaggerated bringing out more details in the shadows and darker colors. You see a version of this in some print ads. In even more extremes will make the illusion of snake-like or ‘slippery’ skin. I love this for more edgy, or abstract subjects/sessions. Look up Dave Hill to get a real sense of this processing effect since my amateurish attempts do this process no justice!

As a people photographer, I am so embarrassed this next process is as popular as it is; the Infared Black and White process. This process mimics and infared variant with a black and white conversion, the result are blues turn to black and reds turn to white...an absolute horrid process for any living thing that has eyes! This process is gorgeous in landscape photography and gives an almost Ansel Adams look to its trees BUT please, never use this on people unless your goal is to make your subjects look like they have alien or demon eyes! (Shudder)

I do not find this next black and white process flattering for portrait photographers. The Infared Black and White process mimics an infared filter and the results are an extreme black and white image. I believe this process should only be used in landscape or nature photography! The infared process does not flatter when a subject is looking into the camera because of what the process does to the eyes. The effect is absolutely gorgeous where trees and oceans and hills and plains are the focus because of the beautiful coloring rendered in the black and white tones, however my thoughts are to not use this in portraiture.

And just so you can see the absurdity of this process on eyes, I present to you my daughter...because unlike any of my clients, she would hug me for making her look like an alien!

And just so you can see the process when a subject is looking at you, I present to you my daughter. She actually LOVES the way this turned out but I believe she may be one of the only few who would, given my daughter’s love for the avante garde!

Color Matte editing process. Created to give a flatter, more 2D effect to your image with the results on a borderline with vintage film. I really like this latest craze, the richness of colors and the flatness of the shadows and highlights. Sometimes I don't want all of my images to look like they can float off the screen/page with its contrast and sharpness...yes, I like to mix my preferences up a little and currently I like the matte effect!

Color Matte editing process. Created to give a flatter, more 2D effect to your image with the results on borderline with vintage film. I really like this latest craze, the richness of colors and the flatness of the shadows and highlights. Sometimes I don’t want all of my images to look like they can float off the screen/page with its high contrast and razor thin sharpness…so far, this look seems timeless to me!

The matte black and white. Simply a matte processed converted in a classic black and white. Along with the classic, higher-contrast black and white conversion, this is my clients preference and I have to agree with them. This is another classic/timeless look!

The matte black and white. Simply a matte process converted with a classic black and white. Along with the classic, higher-contrast black and white conversions I give to my clients, this is also a top preference of my clients and I have to agree with them…this is another classic/timeless look! Below is a collage of processes in comparison.

Whatever your preference, make sure you choose a photographer who either 1) likes to experiment with different processes or 2) likes the same things you do! Hope you enjoyed and were enlightened!

Whatever your preference, make sure you choose a Hudson Valley Photographer that YOU love because of how they capture an image AND process them! Hope you enjoyed this insight!

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2 Responses to “Hudson Valley NY Photographer | Different post processes”
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  1. Entertaining post, thanks for sharing. I personally can’t wait for this vintage fad to pass. I give it five years, tops, and hopefully less. I feel sorry for everyone who will be looking at their pictures in 10 or 15 years and sighing, “ugh, I wish this picture just looked normal!” I don’t carry a $10k camera bag so that my photos will look like they were shot with a cell phone and run through Instagram. Generally I just make exposure and levels corrections and occasionally desaturate the ignored “please don’t wear any bright primary colors” shirt. I’m a huge fan of contrasty B&W, but that’s as far as I go. 🙂 I see too many discussions of “ooh, what actions do YOU use/where can I find some good actions/etc” as if the Instagram craze is taking over professional photography to the detriment of the content and composition of the photo. Don’t lose sight of the foundation, people! I will now stand down from my soapbox. 😛

    • LOL, I agree 100%, Brad! I like a Classic edit that will stand the test of time but it’s fun to play once and a while. In this digital age, it is so easy to keep your original files and play/edit whenever the need hits you. However, I would hate if my images couldn’t ever be changed like in the film days…you had to pick your film right because once you shot with it there was no going back, lol! ;D