The ability to post-process digitally captured images is a key strenght of digital photogrpahy. Ironically, this ability is also one of the most disturbing aspects of the medium. Indeed, I hear many landscape photographers in Japan criticize digital photography as being less authentic than film.
However, image post-processing is nothing new. Most of those photographers who criticize digital photography shoot using Velvia. Why do they? Because of the Velvia wonderfully vivid colors and dynamic contrast. How does Velvia achieve this? Velvia is in fact just an integrated post-processing engine. Starting from the "real" colors or nature, it increases contrast, over-saturates colors,... and does it without any conscious decision on the photographers's part (besides the choice of Velvia of course). When Velvia is used properly in low contrast scenes, it does in fact bring the image back to a level closer to our perception of the scene, overcoming the limitations of other films.
Digital post-processing of images is a very deep subject, but our basic philosophy is that it is actually not very different from the usage of Velvia in the film days. It does however provide tremendous additional freedom compared to the pre-defined Velvia images enhancements (colors saturation and contrast mostly). What do we typically do to our images after capturing them?
- film images are scanned on our Imacon 4x5 scanner,
- digital images captured in RAW are converted to a .tiff image using one of our favourite Raw converters (Capture One Pro V5, Raw Developper or DxO depending on the image),
Once a usable .tiff image is available, we either:
- process them directly in Photoshop CS4,
- for the panorama images, we use PTgui to assemble the individual images and compute a high quality mosaic image, which will then be post-processed in Photoshop CS4.
Once colors and contrast has been corrected, the image is sharpened for print using the Photokit Sharpener plug-in. Many variants to this basic workflow to cope with dynamic range limitations or limited DoF.