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Shooting with post production in mind

From: Foundations of Photography: Exposure

Video: Shooting with post production in mind

While we usually divide the process of making a photograph into shooting and then post production, the fact is you shouldn't think of these as two separate unrelated subjects. You should, in fact, always have post production in mind while you're shooting. This is not a practice that unique to digital shooting. Adams, Weston, Van Dyke, many of the master film photographers of old were not just great photographers; they were incredible technicians. They had in-depth understandings of chemistry, paper, film, and they very often devised and created their own chemistries and paper.

Shooting with post production in mind

While we usually divide the process of making a photograph into shooting and then post production, the fact is you shouldn't think of these as two separate unrelated subjects. You should, in fact, always have post production in mind while you're shooting. This is not a practice that unique to digital shooting. Adams, Weston, Van Dyke, many of the master film photographers of old were not just great photographers; they were incredible technicians. They had in-depth understandings of chemistry, paper, film, and they very often devised and created their own chemistries and paper.

When shooting, they often made exposure decisions based on processing ideas that they knew they could execute later. They would expose one way with the idea that they would process and print their film using very specific techniques. In other words, they were only able to get successful images because they were thinking about the entire photographic process, shooting, and postproduction, at the same time. As a digital photographer, you need the same broad perspective, and for a number of reasons. Black and white is the most obvious case of the time when you need to pre-visualize post production.

For example, what had struck me in this image was the statue against a darker background; however, in the real world, the background wasn't very dark. I shot the image anyway, capturing as much contrast as I could, because I knew that I would be able to process the image into this. Here is another black-and-white example. I saw the shaft of light in a shady alley, and I knew that in black and white, it could be an interesting play of luminance. But I also knew that I needed a subject so I waited for someone to walk through, and then I took the shot.

After black-and-white conversion and a little adjustment, I had the play of light that I was thing of when I shot the image. Here I had missed the really spectacular part of this sunset, but when I finally found a spot I could pull my car over, I was struck by this field full of tire tracks, and I knew that in post production, I could play them up into something more interesting. There is something important to notice about all of these examples. I am not just thinking about post production so that I can shoot in a particular way. My post production ideas are actually helping me to recognize subject matter.

As you saw with the statue image, the image that I had in mind didn't really exist at the scene. What I recognized there was some raw material, the potential for an image, that I was only able to see because I knew what I could do in post and how much I could push my edits. That said, note that I don't have a perfect, finished visualization in my mind. A lot of people you are supposed to be able to see a black-and-white image in your head, or view the world with edits already in place. That's very difficult to do, even with lots of practice; instead, just work on recognizing when a scene presents raw material that can be worked into a finished image later.

In the sunset image, I recognized that the tire tracks would provide material that, with a contrast adjustment, might turn into something, even though I wasn't seeing a specific image in my head. Finally, there are times when you won't actually know ahead of time what you might want to do in your editor. In this shot, I was simply struck by this tree. It was out here in the middle of nowhere, there was nothing around, and somehow it had managed to grow quite large. It was the middle of the day. The light was dull, and I knew that a tree out in the middle of nowhere wasn't going to be an especially interesting picture. And sure enough, the actually shot is pretty boring.

But I took it on faith that I would be able to figure out something to do with that picture later. With some cropping, some vignetting, some contrast adjustment, and toning, I came up with this. Now obviously, this whole practice requires image-editing skills as well as shooting technique, but developing the skill begins when you are out shooting. As you work with your image editor and learn more about what it can do, start thinking about those edits and how they might affect the world around you as you are shooting.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Exposure
Foundations of Photography: Exposure

64 video lessons · 83048 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 8m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 56s
    2. What is exposure?
      4m 8s
    3. A word about camera brands
      2m 40s
  2. 9m 32s
    1. What is a camera?
      2m 53s
    2. The shutter
      3m 53s
    3. The aperture
      1m 33s
    4. Exposure defined
      1m 13s
  3. 13m 50s
    1. Modes
      2m 7s
    2. Pressing the shutter button
      2m 54s
    3. Autofocus
      5m 22s
    4. Light metering
      2m 3s
    5. White balance
      1m 24s
  4. 29m 26s
    1. Shooting sharp images
      1m 58s
    2. Noting shutter speed
      4m 3s
    3. Taking control of shutter speed
      1m 30s
    4. Stop defined
      2m 50s
    5. Shutter priority mode
      4m 34s
    6. Exercise: Shutter speed
      40s
    7. Reciprocity
      3m 13s
    8. Controlling motion
      7m 8s
    9. Shutter speed increments
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Go work with shutter speed
      1m 9s
  5. 26m 3s
    1. Depth of field
      1m 53s
    2. How aperture is measured
      2m 42s
    3. Aperture priority mode
      4m 57s
    4. Lens speed
      53s
    5. Shooting deep depth of field
      3m 53s
    6. Shooting shallow depth of field
      2m 50s
    7. The depth-of-field preview button
      4m 24s
    8. How shallow should you be?
      2m 47s
    9. Exercise: Go work with aperture
      1m 44s
  6. 16m 26s
    1. ISO: The third exposure parameter
      6m 27s
    2. Assessing your camera's high ISO
      5m 32s
    3. Shooting in low light
      3m 32s
    4. Exercise: Shooting in low light
      55s
  7. 14m 30s
    1. White balance controls
      5m 37s
    2. Adjusting white balance manually
      4m 25s
    3. Shooting raw
      4m 28s
  8. 6m 3s
    1. How light meters work
      1m 47s
    2. Why are there different modes?
      4m 16s
  9. 33m 59s
    1. Exposure compensation
      4m 0s
    2. Intentional overexposure
      2m 40s
    3. Intentional underexposure
      1m 42s
    4. Controlling tone
      2m 31s
    5. The histogram
      10m 4s
    6. Real-world histograms
      5m 49s
    7. Tone and color
      2m 16s
    8. Auto exposure bracketing
      3m 58s
    9. Exercise: Go work with exposure compensation
      59s
  10. 12m 56s
    1. Dynamic range
      2m 24s
    2. Exposing for highlights
      4m 15s
    3. Fill flash
      3m 11s
    4. Three solutions to the same problem
      3m 6s
  11. 12m 26s
    1. Manual mode
      2m 6s
    2. Manual mode and light meters
      4m 52s
    3. Manual exposure exercise
      5m 28s
  12. 12m 1s
    1. Custom modes and A-DEP
      1m 39s
    2. Program shift
      3m 52s
    3. Exposure compensation with program shift
      1m 58s
    4. An exercise in reciprocity
      53s
    5. Scene modes and in-camera processing
      3m 39s
  13. 8m 16s
    1. Shooting with post production in mind
      3m 46s
    2. Exposure strategy
      3m 51s
    3. Goodbye
      39s

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