I’ve been taking photos for years, but only been serious about it since 2012. I have done a little experimenting earlier, but nothing serious. What I realized in 2012 is that, all great photos are manipulated or processed. And some quite a lot, others just a little bit!
What does it mean to “process a photo”? By processing a photo you take the photo into some kind of tool to improve it. You adjust stuff like contrast, white balance, saturation, sharpness, terms which kind of makes sense to most people. But you also work with more mystifying stuff like white balance, clarity, tone curves, histograms and a lot of other things. Things that you are probably either totally ignorant of or just have heard of, but they are key subjects when it comes to processing the image. I will get into much more detail later on.
So, to learn how to process photos from being kind of flat, not too great looking or perhaps ok’ish but definitely not popping. You know the kind, the traditional tourist photo of something that doesn’t look as great on the photo, as it did when you were there. To improve such a photo requires processing and that does require some knowledge and skills. And to get that, you need to read a lot and practice a lot.
Different types of photos are processed in different ways, even similar photos may not gain the most from the exactly same process. All photos must be treated different to get the most out of them.
You probably take different kind of photos, I know I do. I categorize my photos into a number of categories:
Photos of everyday life. These I only process to a very small degree. I have a couple of presets in Lightroom and I usually is happy with one of these.
Almost falls under the family category. Some of these I might process a little more, to emphasize a scene or situation caught in a great place or a great moment.
I only do family portraits and I don’t do terrible much processing on these, but if I was to use it for more serious things, these would definitely need a lot more processing.
My landscape photos are my babies along with my cityscape and architectural photos. These photos I take my time with and the best of them I process them to full extend. Some takes perhaps 30 minutes and others several hours.
Cityscape or architectural photos
Just as well as my landscape photos these belong to my art or whatever you call it and I take my time to process these images.