Skip to main content

Photography Is A Two-Part Process

Lesson 27 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

Photography Is A Two-Part Process

Lesson 27 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

27. Photography Is A Two-Part Process

As Chris moves from out in the field to inside the digital darkroom, he explains the role of computer-based processing in photography, today, and describes the essential processing tools he use for the vast majority of his processing work.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes


Practicing Mindfulness In Photography


Finding The Visual Narrative


Behind-the-scenes: Naples


Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things


Lesson Info

Photography Is A Two-Part Process

before I kick off this section of the course, I want to reflect for a moment on my thoughts about processing and introduce you to the main tools that I use now. I'm of the mind that photography is and has always been a two part process. What happens in the camera, followed by what happens afterwards? Ever since the very first camera photography has involved those two stages now, in the very early days, you had to be a chemist to be a photographer, hand coating glass sheets with a concoction of chemicals. Then George Eastman invented celluloid film, and anyone could take pictures, although chemistry was still needed to turn exposed film into print. Then came digital and chemistry, and traditional craftsmanship was gone. Today, my 10 year old daughter is processing photos on her IPhone, and the fact that processing has become easier and more accessible doesn't mean it's cheating. It just means some of the smoke and mirrors has been blown away. What I'm saying is, processing is integral t...

o photography and always has been. The camera is a tool for capturing data in the form of light, and it's very good at that. But when it comes to the final print. It's a pretty limited device, and that's why image processing is an important part of a photographer's journey. Now. That said, there are lines for sure. For me, processing is about fine tuning the raw file in order to more accurately portray the visualized image. It's not about creating images that never existed in the first place. There's a place for montages, I'm sure, but to me, that's not photography. Digital art. Now that's just my view is a subjective area, and others may draw a different conclusion. So what follows is not a no holds barred tutorial on digital manipulation. If you want to know how to replace a sky or added predator into an image of an antelope, this section isn't for you. What I am going to cover in the next few lessons of the what house and wise, with the main processing tools you can use to produce image files that are fit and ready to print while remaining true to your original intent. Now, in terms of the platform, there are a multitude to choose from, and I'm going to be using the industry leader Adobe Light Room if you're more familiar with a different software, you'll find that whatever I discuss in light room will be available to you in whatever you're using. You may just have to look for the particular control in a different place or by a different name. So with that said, Let's fire up the computer and the fancy graphics. Adobe described light room as a cloud based service that gives you everything you need to create, edit, organized store and share your photos across any device that's all well and lovely. But this isn't a light room tutorial, and I'm going to concentrate on one particular aspect of light room, which is the develop module and the panel of adjustments and controls Here on the right side, these are the only controls are used for 90% of my processing, and I'll give you a quick overview now of what they do before I get to the tools notice at the top. Here there's a history, Graham. Now this is pretty much the same tool is a history. Graham in your camera is basically showing you the distribution and quantity of the different tones in your image. From black on the left here through dark, mid and light grays to white over here on the far right. And if I select these two arrows in the top left and top right corners, it warns me of any areas of blown out highlights or block shadows. Moving down the panel, we come to the basic and H S L toolboxes, which between them controlled tone, colour and texture. And I would say, 90% of adjustments I make to an image by using the tools in these two toolboxes, and they mostly work in a top down structure. So let's start at the top with a box of tricks called Basic. Now the first thing I do is set my profile, and I almost always use camera neutral because this is the closest to raw file captured by my camera, and it's a good line in the sand starting point. Next down the white balance settings. Now the white balance settings here are the same as the white balance settings in your camera. You have finer control in light room, though, than you do in camera, so I usually shoot in auto white balance in camera and make any adjustments here. The tone controls work on the exposure, exposure and contrast are universal, affecting the whole image. Now, if my in camera exposure is correct, I usually don't need to make an exposure adjustment. And instead I use the highlights and shadows and whites and blacks. Sliders, which work only on a narrow band of tones, light or dark to fine tune the tonal range of my image. Next, the presence controls, which, broadly speaking, affect detail. Texture is generally used for subtle adjustments of what we would call mid frequency pixels. It can be used, for example, to smooth skin or at the other end, and somewhere I often use it to roughen animal fur Clarity is a more aggressive tool, working on high mid and low frequency pixels. It's more in your face but should be used with care, as it can adversely affect image quality by, for example, exacerbating any noise present in the image. Once I've sorted out tones, I move on to color. Now I have vibrance and saturation controls here, which, like exposure and contrast, are universal tools affecting all colors in the image and similarly to texture and clarity. Vibrance is a more subtle control, while saturation is more aggressive. Vibrance increases the intensity of more muted colors without affecting already saturated colors. Saturation increases the intensity of all colors, even the already heavily saturated once, with all the controls under the present toolset, the best way to get to know them is to play around with them. An experiment In my experience, though, most of the time I find less is almost always more. And finally, in the S L toolbox, there are tools for making adjustments to the individual color channels. So it's here. For example, I can remove the blue color cast caused by the bias in my neck on cameras without affecting other colors in the scene. There are a few other tools I may turn to for specific effects. I'll cover those specifically when I start working on the images from the case studies. For now. As I explained, my images aren't going to go through any fantastical manipulation, just small tweaks and fine tuning of the in camera raw file that helped to overcome the limitations of the camera as a processing talk. And with that, let's get on with the action

Ratings and Reviews

Gary Hook

Wow, what a wonderful journey. I love the concept of telling a story with one's photos and as I go through past images, I'm seeing them in a much different perspective. That's the good news, The bad? The lost opportunities I never 'saw' before; however that is a good thing. There is so much to internalize with the material so that it can get out of the head and into the 'heart'. I also found the concept really helps me with composition, both in camera and post. Biggest take away, as Chris underscored in his closing, is to slooooow down, take the time and feel it. Don't be so quick to leave one scene as there remain other aspects, yet to be discovered. A great experience that I truly enjoyed Thank you


I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Student Work