Lesson 45: Post Processing or Photo Manipulation?

In Lesson 40, we took a badly lit photo of my dog sitting on my husband and did some basic editing to shift the attention from the bright background to my intended subjects using Snapseed.  These are the original and post-processed versions side-by-side:

I mentioned in Lesson 40 that post-processing is usually considered the digital equivalent of developing film.  However, you can also do an extreme amount of editing and end up with something that doesn’t look like a photo at all.  This is usually called digital manipulation or graphic art, but when editing crosses from post-processing to “manipulation” is largely subjective and hotly debated.

Since it really doesn’t matter what you call it, we’re not going to argue about it.  I’m just going to show you an example of more extreme editing that produces a completely different look from what I actually saw when I took the photo.

I used Snapseed to do a similar editing process as in Lesson 40, but I took my changes to the extreme.  I also used heavy sharpening to create an effect that makes my husband and dog look more like a drawing than a photo.

Here are the steps I used in this edit.  Note that there is a clever tip included on copying and pasting selective adjustments that comes in very handy.

Let’s look at the original photo, the previsously post-processed version, and today’s extreme edit side-by-side:

Personally, I am a bit of a traditionalist.  I like photos to look like photos or to not at all look like photos.  More abstract subjects work for me in extreme editing modes, but I am not fond of this look for human or animal subjects.  Maybe someday it will wear me down and I’ll start to like it–in the meantime, I always think of images of Elvis on black velvet when I do these types of edits.  🙂

Your Assignment:  Start with a photo that has something a bit off in it like a too-bright background and poorly lit subject.  See if you can use this series of edits (and/or throw in some of your own) to create something that looks really cool.  Or, perhaps, makes you, too, think of Elvis on black velvet.  Do you like this look?  It’s OK if you do.  🙂  That’s the important point–discovering what is possible and what appeals to you.

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