Behind the Scenes, How-To | "Before and After" | Article and 7 Photos by Stephen Fisher

I did an article last month on quotations about photography. I want to start this article with another quotation from Ansel Adams. He said: “You don’t TAKE a photograph…you MAKE it!”

I believe Ansel meant several different things when he said this. I’m sure he was referring to the amount of effort it takes to find a great scene… get all of the equipment set up…wait for the perfect light…and make the shot.

But he was also known for spending a LOT of time in the darkroom working on his images. Adams was also fond of reprocessing his negatives if he thought it might be better. (Also see, Zone System)

Well today most of us don’t use the darkroom. We do all of the processing of our files on a computer using editing software. As different as these processes are, they’re quite similar.

If you like, modern digital cameras will create an already processed file for you. You can take a photograph and the camera will create a JPEG for you. And honestly…it will look pretty good!

But if you want to have total control of how your image will look, you can have your camera create a RAW file. A RAW file is basically a digital negative. It doesn’t look very good at all right out of the camera. It needs to be processed.

OK…This is a screenshot of my editing software program…Adobe Lightroom. It’s a powerful program that not only allows me to process my photos, it also keeps them organized. With Lightroom I can take all of the information stored in the RAW file and MAKE it look exactly the way I want.

Here are a few Before (right out of my camera) and After (after processing them in Lightroom) photographs:

This is how a RAW file looks. While it’s dark and dingy looking, all of the information is digitally stored in the file. All I need to do is decide what I want to do with it.

I was able to use Lightroom to help me pull all of these beautiful colors and detail out of the file.

Good old Mom's Bait Shop! She doesn't look too good out of the camera.

With a little bit of work I was able to put some life into the image.

This is of course the "Rainbow" of the most photographed scenes in Rockport. I didn't like all of the distracting elements in the background.

Using both Lightroom and Photoshop I was able to remove all of the other boats and masts in the background. It makes the photograph much more enjoyable.

This is exactly why I feel digital photography is a blend of both art and science. The science comes from generating a high quality, in-focus, nicely composed RAW file from my camera. The art comes from me being able to create exactly how I want everyone else to see this photo.

As always, I'd love to answer any questions you might have about YOUR photography. Good shooting...SEF

Stephen Fisher and his wife Sharon have lived in Rockport for almost 5 years. Stephen Is a full time nature photographer with gallery representations here in Rockport and in Corpus Christi. Their favorite question is “What took us so long to get here to Rockport?”

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