Tuesday, 19 January 2010

to edit, or not to edit

I wonder; do you do any post processing to your film shots at all? Why/why not?

I used to never edit my film shots, but now I do it sometimes. Only simple things like "auto contrast" and/or "auto levels" in Photoshop Elements 2.0 (nope, I still haven't gotten around to getting a different photo editing program). For some reason I feel like I'm cheating when I edit my film shots, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel like I should have done all the "editing" when I took the photo in the first place.

As you can see the photos above (taken yesterday morning right before I took this) are a little different; the first one is not edited, the other one is edited with "auto contrast". I'm not sure which one I prefer, I think I like them both. Or maybe I prefer the unedited one. Hm.

Film: a cheap, expired (01/2002) Imitation hp200


  1. i don't edit my film shots. the only thing i do is remove any dust from the scans - if i cleaned my scanner more often, however, this wouldn't be an issue!

  2. neither one is better than the other. i like them both - kudos Astrid!

  3. Hello Astrid. I ... used to really not like to post-process digital pictures, but ... I must admit, I'm doing it more often now. At the beginning, I was just like you, feeling I was cheating, but ... I deeply thought about what I used to do in the dark room with films, and though I hated to reframe (and used to leave the black line around the picture), I would play with the rest to give more or less contrast, softness, ... So why not do it with digital ? May be because doing it on a computer feels much more artificial than doing it with both hands in chemical products ?! May be because in the dark room, there's a "physical" limit to what you can adjust, whereas Photoshop possibilities seem quite endless ?! Who knows ... Netvertheless, I'm post-processing digital pictures more now, and this includes re-framing, and I'm obliged to admit that it can give beautiful results. But, I agree with you on the fact that it doen't necessary give a better picture, more often just a different one. I've come to think that it's just part of the fun, and that's also part of why I love shooting film. It's a different approach. But I think I'm not finished with this question.

  4. I always edit. Light, shadow, contrast, whatever it takes to get the best out of the image. Always. Its like tv, they always put make up on to look natural :)

  5. it depends, sometimes I do, but like you only perhaps fiddle with the levels a little if I'm not entirely happy. I prefer to try and get it right at the shooting stage and not rely on pp.
    I prefer the edited version of yours; the blurry lights in the right corner are beautiful!

  6. I go through phases. Right now I like to leave them alone, but I'm not about to throw away a perfectly good picture if there's something simple I can correct. My current favourite camera doesn't show the full frame in the viewfinder, and I often end up with slivers of things poking in the edge of the frame. When I took this picture I spent ages contorting myself to get as much wire and pole in it as possible with out getting anything else in, but when I got it developed, the clip that ties the wires to the house was sticking in the top of the frame so I cropped it.

    Photoshop can seem like cheating sometimes, to me at least, but things like cropping and rotating and adjusting contrast and colour balance have been going on in darkrooms for the past hundred or so years. It's a different technology, but it does the same thing.

  7. There's a great post over on Chase Jarvis' blog about this where he show the immense amount of retouching that Richard Avedon conducted on his iconic film shots.

    Photoshop may be new but image optimisation is virtually as old as film itself. Go wild!


  8. well Astrid, Since you are not the one scanning your images I would say edit to your liking. the individual who is scanning your images is already editing them for you with the scanner I am willing to bet. Even if someone else was processing your images and printing them, they would be making editing decisions on your film. :)

  9. i feel the same way you do, astrid! i rarely post-process any of my prints except for scans that don't turn out to look like the actual print. for my digital photos, i primarily use auto-white balance. i'm not very good with the software i'm using, so white-balance for digital photos is really all i know how to do. :) i used to use photoshop elements, but am now using gimp (http://www.gimp.org/).

    i think your photos are always beautiful. sometimes little imperfections here and there are what make photos, well, perfect! :)

  10. I have a feeling that many film photos come out too grainy after edits.



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