Post-Production; Processing; Post-Processing;
In digital photography post-production, post-processing or simply processing refers to work that is done on the digital files after they have been captured by the camera. The processing stage is term for all activities after shooting which lead to the completion of the work.
Normally an image file is opened in an image editing application to change the file and/or improve it. The different types of work completed in image editors is too diverse to discuss in detail. However, the following important functions are considered basic minimum requirements for editing systems…
- Adjusting exposure, contrast and brightness,
- Adjusting colours, hues, tones, saturation and light levels
- File cropping (cutting the file to a different shape, smaller shot)
- Straighten image, insert text, preset shapes, draw lines, erase
- To cut, paste, insert, crop-out and ‘fit-to’ selected image parts
- Change colour, samples, hues, tones shades, lighten and darken
- To change sizes/shapes etc. – brushes, pens, shapes, tools
- Resizing the file dimensions appropriated to the intended use
- Optimizing the file (remove unwanted data, reducing storage size
- Retouching the subject content of the image to remove dust spots, digital noise and other digital capture imperfections.
- Basic set of software effects and filters (blur, frost, noise, wind, sepia etc.)
Image editors also have the capability to create or remove components of the image. New components of the image can be artfully created using painting tools, eraser tools and drawing tools. It is also possible to artificially over-write parts of the image using sections of the image from elsewhere. This ‘cloning’ is to disguise features or wipe them out. The process is used to take out unwanted parts of the image and make it look like it was never there.
Image file editing, and what may be achieved, depends on the post-processing editor. The available tools, plug-ins and extensions for all editors on the market are impossible to catalogue. The field is changing rapidly too. In Adobe Photoshop, one of the industry leaders, there are enough tools and techniques that most tasks can be completed several different ways. There are are a long list of filters, plug-ins and tools which can also be added to the original software installation.
Some wider considerations
The software industry and camera manufacturers have recognised the huge investment in image editing world wide. It’s a global industry worth billions of pounds with millions of people using the software. Post-processing is a multi-national industry with huge investments in both development of the tools and the actual post-processing of the images.
There are literally hundreds of post-processing systems and these are increasing rapidly as mobile computing technologies develop. Also in-camera image manipulation and internet access is beginning to grow. This will inevitably increase the post-processing opportunities.
In general you can buy an application costing from a few tens of pounds to over a thousand pounds. These are best loaded onto desktop or laptop computers. Alternatively the recent increase in ‘cloud’ computing (using applications hosted on servers over the Internet) is making it easier to edit photos online. You can use online systems, or free off-line applications to edit your files too.
There are also some significant ethical issues relating to photo-editing.
Useful links after the jump…