I was in the middle of processing some images and came across and extreme case of before-and-after...you know, Extreme Makeover style. Many clients don't really understand what goes on during post-processing so I thought I would share with you. Many people assume the images look great right out of the camera and all the photographer has to do is download them. Well, unfortunately, that's not the case. While I do strive to perfect my exposure and cropping in-camera, digital images are sometimes kinda greyish-blah and need a little boost. Here is a great example of what my clients are investing in - meticulous retouching of each of the images they receive. This process takes time and experience...something the chain photo studios usually don't have. *WARNING* - Viewer discretion is advised. The following image is not very pleasing to the eye and isn't something I would ever deliver to my client!
This is the image straight out of the camera. Yes, completely embarrassed and naked. Nothing too special but there is definitely potential. The color temperature is too cool for my liking and the contrast needs a good boost. I shoot exclusively in RAW so I can make adjustments as needed.This is the image after editing in Photoshop Camera RAW. I warmed up the color temperature, adjusted the exposure and increased contrast. Much better but it still lacks the pop I'm looking for. Here is the final image after my tweaks in Photoshop. I made several curves adjustments both overall and locally, did some clone work, and adjusted the eyes to make them really shine. Lastly, I sharpened the image. This is the image I saw in my head when I took this shot...
And the final before-and-after!
I hope this has answered some questions about what post-processing is and what all is involved. Let me know if you have any other questions!