Post Processing: Is it real or is it art?

Are you old enough to remember the old TV commercial from Memorex?  The tag line was “Is it Live or is it Memorex?”.  The premise was the recording quality of the tape was so good, you couldn’t discern between a tape recorded session of singer or musician and a live session.  This makes me think of the debate that goes on around the photography world and the use of post processing tools like Lightroom and Photoshop.  While not exactly the same comparison, I thought it was interesting enough to write about and tell you where I land on the topic.

In the photographic world, there are what I would call purists who think the photo should be as it is straight out of the camera (SOOC).  You shouldn’t depend on post processing to fix the possible mistakes you made when you composed and shot the photo in the first place.  As photographers, we should always strive to get the best possible photos we can in camera.  We need to pay attention to composition and exposure settings (aperture, ISO, shutter speed).   After all, back in the film days, you couldn’t do what you can today in post processing.  You could make some minor changes in the developing process if you were doing your own but nothing like you can today in the digital world.

For me personally, I view my photographs as art.  As a painter starts with a blank canvas, a subject, and a vision, I start with a digital photo, a subject, and a vision.  The painter uses various brushes, knives, different mediums, etc., my tools are very similar.  My tools included Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, ON1 Perfect Photo RAW, and some other add-ons. I have a vision for how I want a photo to look.  The digital photo SOOC is my starting point.  Sometimes it’s very close to the end point and sometimes it’s not.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate the point.  The photo on the left is SOOC while the photo on the right is my vision of the photo. And since I consider photography to be an art, I’m completely fine with this.

Lake Superior Sunset
Lake Superior Sunset SOOC

Lake Superior Sunset
Lake Superior Sunset After Post Processing

So where do you fall on the debate?  Do you dislike photos that have been enhanced with post processing or are you OK with it?   Leave a comment and tell which side you lean towards and why.  It would be an interesting discussion I’m sure!  

By the way, the photo on the right is available in my Etsy store.  Click here to view.  

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