Fun vs Post-processing

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Tom Schum
Tom Schum Veteran Member • Posts: 9,228
Fun vs Post-processing

How do you balance the fun of photography against the gains you can make with careful and labor intensive post processing?

Some people enjoy the post processing more than the photography experience itself, but I am not one of them. I'd love to find a simple workflow that is optimum for everything, but the tradeoffs make this impossible. Because of this there is a constant tension, deciding how much is too much.

Some people cope with this by shooting only JPGs, but the cameras are getting too capable to just do this all the time. So much untapped potential!

Recently I found out the greatness of Raw Therapee v5.8 in terms of rendering detail and foliage in X-trans images. Raw Therapee can be a lot of work though, and it is quite complex. Previously I had been processing raws using the free Fuji/Silkypix raw developer but again I would be developing a raw, then processing the exported JPG further in another tool.

A month or so ago I bought Photomatix Pro HDR software and have been shooting my Fujis in ISO bracketed mode. A single exposure is processed by the camera into three JPGs I can directly import to Photomatix. Once there, I can click-select any of at least 20 presets. Mostly, it's all I need to get great images.

And, it's great fun.

It seems to me that the more intensive processing options, particularly RT 5.8, work well with full-resolution images where I want maximum sharpness out of the file. But simply saving "S" JPGs in the camera gives me excellent sharpness at pixel level without the overhead of post processing using a raw developer.

These "S" JPGs (3120x2080) are exactly 1/4 the total pixel count of a full-res image (6240x4160), and they get made inside the X-T3 with no work on my part. I've found I can print this 6mp image quite well up to 12" x 18" too.

So, for now, I'm just storing JPGs in the X-T3, and shooting it ISO bracketed. I process with Photomatix Pro, then tweak now and then if desired using Photoshop Elements 2020. Simple, fast, and very little technical input is needed. I just need to concentrate on getting the exposure correct at picture-taking time. And, of course, I can't change the film simulation later, so that is something also to think about.

If I need to push things to the max, I'll take raws to process with RT 5.8 and so on, then send out for a 24"x36" print or something big.

Street shot, 3120x2080, Photomatix Pro HDR preset "Painterly 5" with added sharpening. 6.7mb download. X-T3 set to Acros with a little warming.  Rokinon 85mm F1.8 lens set to F2.8 or so.

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Tom Schum
Copper: Mankind's favorite electrical conductor

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