Editing an image is a matter of both taste and intent. In my abstract notion of a photographer’s ideal world, the image captured in camera is the final product – meaning that the photographer can find or create the desired lighting and composition prior to releasing the shutter. If the planned shot involves putting the subject in a complicated scene one would need a huge budget or a large studio to have full control over that initial capture. This was as true in the days of film as it is now but one of the main advantages of digital photography over film is that post-processing is easier and faster. Post-processing options are part of my decision-making at the time of that first exposure. Here is an example of the concrete application of that abstract notion:
Back in April I did a Fitness/Goddess shoot with Shannon McMillan Hernandez (details here). The initial images were perfectly acceptable and she remains very happy with them. From the very start I knew that I would edit the two themes within this shoot differently, even though they were shot in the same conditions and location.
The Goddess Theme
My original objective was to put Shannon in a scene dramatic enough to match the look of outfit. The counterbalance to that objective was that I had to be able to produce usable images that she could have in a short amount of time. To produce images that would be quickly available I tried two options: First I set the exposure to preserve the highlights in the sky and used my own lighting to expose Shannon but quickly saw that I had to contend with lights reflecting off the large windows in the background. I then exposed for the subject rather than the background. While this resulted in a is totally overexposed sky my Fujifilm’s dynamic range allowed me to recover a decent amount of those highlights.
The Fitness Theme
This required much less editing. Initial image is top left with stages of editing below it and the final image on the right.