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  • Writer's pictureSey Rosen

Digital Photography & Post Processing

Sey Rosen writes about Digital Photography & Post Processing

First and foremost let me say it loud and clear: ✔️​1 – GETTING IT RIGHT IN THE CAMERA IS A MYTH! ✔️​2 – POST-PROCESSING IS NOT A DIRTY WORD! Due to the technical limitations of ALL cameras, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, both Analog and Digital, no camera is capable of translating the photographer’s vision perfectly. In our genre of Candid Street Photography, instinctive spontaneity increases the need for post-adjustment and correction. Capturing the image on the camera’s film/sensor is considered only 50% of making an image and the easier half of the job. Post-processing has been part and parcel of photography ever since the invention of image-making. From glass plates to prints much of the post-processing was done by hand, spotting with very fine brushes, inks, and colors, scratching with sharp knives, pencils, etc., and of course dodging & burning while exposing the image on paper. Ansel Adams, the iconic developer of the ‘zone system’ could spend days in the darkroom working on a single print, testing, experimenting, and reviewing to achieve his vision of the scene he had photographed.

images © Sey Rosen

Since the arrival of Digital Photographic Technology over the past 30 years, This totally Electronic Process has joined the traditional Analog process which is based on the reaction of light affecting film coated with a layer of silver halides. Digital Photographic equipment, for various reasons, mainly the world’s massive adoption of the capabilities of Electronics is rapidly becoming more sophisticated and advanced. The applications developed for Digital Post-Processing have in tandem become very sophisticated and make post-processing simpler and faster, enabling adjustments/corrections by the click of a mouse button and seeing the change immediately on your screen. Analog and Digital both have their pros and cons, but one is not better than the other, they are simply two totally different technologies.

Street Photography Digital Post-Processing

Nearly all of the leading image processing software, today, allows for much stronger processing and the line between Street Photography and Photographic and digital Art has become extremely thin. The grand-daddy and still the leading app is Adobe Photoshop, but Photoshop is essentially a Computer Graphics app that was released in 2000 for the Macintosh Graphic and Digital Designers. The actual photographic uses are a spinoff and a tiny percentage of the total capabilities of Photoshop with its very steep learning curve. Today, we have many apps developed by Photographers specifically for Photography, which allow much manipulation of an image to the point of turning a realistic photograph into a piece of Digital Photographic Art. Adobe Lightroom, DxO photolab, NIK, OnOne, Skylum Luminar, CaptureOne, TopazLabs, just to name a few, are all aimed at advanced and professional photographers and cost different amounts. There is a plethora of apps available online, both free and paid for, so it’s basically about finding the right app for you. Again, it’s a question of needs and budget. I believe the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan which includes full versions of 9 different apps for a subscription of $10/month – the price of 2 or 3 cups of coffee – and includes All the updates & major upgrades + at least 20GB of cloud storage, is probably the best deal around. “Less is more” is my mantra.

images © Goutam Maiti

Since Candid Street Photography is meant to be an authentic, realistic, historical representation of a fraction of a second of daily life and is usually made spontaneously, instinctively, with a hand-held preset camera, the post-processing needs to be very gentle and minimal to bring the image back to the photographer’s glimpse of that split second of life. The main adjustments that need to be made in post-processing are:- ✔️​1 – Very careful corrections to light and shade, or as we know it ‘dodging & burning’. ✔️​2 – White and color balance, adjusting for artificial light color shifts. ✔️​3 – Denoising – taking care of burnt-out white areas or very dark areas that the sensitivity of the camera was unable to record and thus we get pixelated square black or colored Digital Noise aberrations.

I personally, always add grain to every Digital image I have de-noised, using the specialized plug-ins of DxO Film Pack6 and NIK silver efex6 to bring back the feeling of authenticity.

✔️​4 – When converting Color images to B&W (Monochrome) the Gray Scale only has 254 shades of gray between Pure White and Pure Black as compared to the millions of colors available in the camera & software. Adjacent similar shades and tones of red and blue, for example, translate into the same shade of gray so that the area becomes flat and without detail to differentiate between the shapes. Simply de-saturating the Color image does not create the perfect B&W image. ✔️​5 – Composition, because of our instinctive image shooting, we often need to rearrange the composition of the photograph to a visually more appealing form. Here, the Crop tool is our weapon of choice. ✔️​6 – Finally, Spotting – the cleaning of any dirt spots that may have found their way onto the camera’s mirror.

images © Sey Rosen

It is necessary for me to reiterate that our Candid Street Photography is an authentic realistic historical record of the photographer’s Decisive Moment. Thus the story being told must be seen as it was.

With all the technology available to us, it’s very easy to be tempted or to slip from our genre into something different and turn our image into a Digital Graphic Art piece that has changed the story. Please burn this into your brains when creating Candid Street Photography.

images © Goutam Maiti

In our next discussion, we’ll talk about Basics & Rules and the Breaking thereof.

Meanwhile, if you have missed out on the previous ones from this series, I am leaving easy links for you to read. Enjoy!

Author – Sey Rosen

If you are a street photographer and own a credible body of work, you can be featured in The Street Photography Gallery’s Feature section. You only have to hit the button below or email us on

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