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What is Image Processing?

Wedding photographers often say they process their wedding images individually but what is image processing and does it make much difference to a photograph?

Many wedding photographers will make reference to image processing; you may be wondering what image processing is, why photographers need to process their images, does it mean they don’t have very good cameras or surely it’s done in Photoshop; you may think it’s an automated process.

I’m not going to get too technical but suffice to say that everything a camera captures is based on averages; a white wedding dress photographed with a white sky will make the camera’s exposure system think this is a bright scene so it needs to adjust the exposure accordingly. The result will be a dark image; it’s down to the photographer to have sufficient knowledge and expertise, to manually adjust the exposure so the starting point for each image is as good as you can reasonably expect, bearing in mind the speed you work at when photographing a wedding.

Looking at the screen on the back of the camera shows me what’s called a histogram or an image that the camera has processed or both. If it’s a bright day photographers won’t be able to see the image on the screen properly which is where a histogram is very helpful. It’s like a graph that shows the shadows through to the highlights that are contained in the image that’s just been captured after each photograph is taken. There is a particular technique I use when capturing wedding photographs that ensures my starting point is as good as it gets. The starting point for me is how the image looks before I fine tune it during the processing stage.

When I process my images I want to ensure the highlight detail (the wedding dress, sand on a beach, sky) that’s the brightest part of the image, the shadows and everything in between are reproduced properly.

Look through wedding magazines and have a look at many of the wedding dresses and the way the sky looks in different pictures. You’ll very often see there’s no detail in the dress at all, or the sky; both are pure white. Whatever brides spend on their wedding dress I’m sure they want to see all the detail in that dress in all of their photographs; it should be there and this is where the expertise of the photographer comes in both at the capture and processing stages of the wedding photography process.

This is a classic example of what I mean. I’ve used a group shot with a great sky with lots of puffy clouds. The first image shows what ordinary image processing as done by most photographers produces, the second is the image after I had processed it. The difference in the prints is amazing. I want my customers to have incredible images.

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