So now that you have created a masterpiece, set up the lighting perfectly and taken a photo with your camera on a tripod, you must be ready to share your photo online or add it to your portfolio, right?
You’re forgetting about a very important step in photography. Post processing.
What is Post Processing?
Post processing, otherwise known as photo editing, is the process through which you make adjustments to your images after you have taken them. Knowing the best camera settings and nailing the light control are crucial for taking good photos, but post-processing also becomes unavoidable if you’re aiming to share the best possible picture of your hard work. This is where you carefully analyze the images on a big screen with accurate colors within a professional photo editing software and make sure that everything is as you want it to be. And if it’s not, well, then that’s what image editors are for.
But before you delve into the world of post-processing, we have here some important things you should remember while editing your photos:
1. Less is More
First of all, always remember that when it comes to post-processing, the lesser you do to the photo, the better it usually is. The final image should look as natural as possible, and a person looking at the photo shouldn’t be able to judge right off the bat that you’ve heavily processed the shot. So make simple, basic adjustments like increasing or decreasing exposure as needed, adding a touch of contrast for some added punch, and fixing the white balance as per available light.
2. RAW is Ideal
A RAW photo is one that contains all the information your camera sensor has captured from a scene, without any compression. This is important, as it allows you to edit your photos in a much more flexible manner than you’d be allowed with a compressed format like JPEG. All changes that you would make to a RAW file should be non-destructive, which means they won’t affect the image quality from a resolution point of view.
3. ‘More’ is Possible
If you have somehow really messed up taking the photo you wanted to take and, for some reason, you cannot take it again, then you should know that a modern RAW image editor allows you to do a lot with whatever you have. Changing exposure and contrast is simple, but you can also adjust the overall hue of different colors, add or reduce sharpness, reduce the amount of visible noise, add more layers on top of your image, use filters and presets, adjust saturation, control highlights and shadows, and even make adjustments to selected portions of your photo instead of the whole frame. So don’t worry too much if you haven’t taken the perfect photo, chances are that you’ll be able to salvage the image quite a bit through post-processing.
4. Overboard is Never Good
When editing a photo, especially of a piece of art, you should make sure that it doesn’t end up looking artificial. So whichever tools you decide to use, just don’t go overboard with their application. People tend to use sliders such as Clarity and Structure without even considering that they make the image look unrealistic if used too heavily. So before doing something like that, just be sure that your image showcases the product properly and doesn’t make it look like a ‘posterized’ filter has been slapped on top.
As simple as it may seem, post-processing of photos is something that requires a lot of work and patience to get the hang of. You need to know what each of the tools in any given photo editor does so that you can use the ones you need as best as possible. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with photos that look weird and don’t do justice to the art that you’re trying to capture.
We have talked a lot about the importance of documenting your work and sharing it with people, but what if you don’t have a fancy DSLR camera to take stellar photos of your artwork? Well, it really doesn’t matter.
Just Use What You Have!
It may seem at first that in order to take great photos of your work, you need to have an expensive camera. However, that is not true. The fact of the matter is that camera technology has progressed so much over the last few years that even the most budget point and shoot cameras have very good image quality. Even your smartphone might have a camera that is more than capable of taking detailed, well-exposed shots. All you need is a digital camera or smartphone camera that has a manual mode to take very good photos of sculptures, be they outdoors or indoors.
There are things that expensive cameras do better, of course. For example, they have a much better dynamic range for outdoor shots, they have better high ISO performance, and the larger sensors help take more detailed shots. But your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera probably has enough features to let you work around the limitations.
For example, if you need better dynamic range, you can take multiple exposures and create an HDR image in an HDR photo editor. For lesser noise in dark environments, you can jump into your phone camera’s manual mode and use a slower shutter speed. Of course, all these workarounds will require you to spend some extra time and effort on each photo, but the point of this post is to make you understand that you can take great photos of your work even with your smartphone, provided you are willing to work a little to learn how camera settings work.
Being a sculptor, you must spend days and weeks on a single piece of art. Whether it is a personal project or a commissioned one, it requires the same amount of work and commitment from your end as the artist. This hard work then demands that you do justice to it and share your art with as many people as possible.
Here are some great ways you can showcase your work in front of the world quite easily:
- Share on Social Media
The first thing you should start doing is share your work on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. These are very helpful platforms for artists to ensure that their work reaches millions of people. This will not only create a digital record of your work but will also bring you potential customers.
Don’t skimp on taking great photos of your work either. Visit websites like www.aurorahdr.com to learn about HDR photography and how you can use it for taking detailed shots of outdoor sculptures, or take a look at this link for great DIY lighting ideas for indoor shots.
- Create a Website
As an artist, you need to sell your work to support yourself. Therefore, it is important that you have an online presence in the form of a website where you can sell your art. Creating a website with something like www.wix.com is simple and cheap. You can also add a link to your website to your social media pages to drive traffic to it and make sales.
- Send Gifts
One great way to make sure people see your work, and also to get some older pieces off of your hands in the process, is to give away your work to coffee shops or restaurants. Take a walk to nearby coffee shops and ask them if they would like to keep some free sculptures. Chances are you’ll get a yes from a couple of places and get the chance to show your work to countless customers.
Whenever you make something new, don’t forget to share it with people. The internet is an artist’s best friend in the modern world, so utilize it to its full potential and make your name as a successful artist.
Most artwork demands to be documented properly. If not, it becomes impossible for future generations to know about it and appreciate it. That is why it is so important for people to understand how to take photos of their work. But while the documentation of indoor art can be fairly easy, outdoor sculptures are a different story. Photographers have to be careful about a multitude of factors, including the weather, location, time of day, number of people passing by etc.
Many outdoor sculpture photos are completely ruined because they’re backlit by the sun, which means that the sun shines with all its glory right in the camera lens. However, there is one trick that can help ensure that your outdoor sculptures get improved drastically.
Start Practicing HDR Photography
HDR Photography, or High Dynamic Range Photography, aims to maximize the dynamic range of your camera. This means that a photo that is HDR will have a balanced exposure all around, from the highlights to the mid tones and the shadows.
Mostly what happens when shooting outdoor art on a sunny day is that the bright sunlight throws the camera’s exposure off. If you expose for the details in the sky, then the rest of the image becomes too dark. Similarly, if you expose your image to capture the details in the shadows, then the sky gets completely washed out.
This is exactly what HDR photography aims to solve. By combining multiple photos of the same subject at different exposure settings, you can make sure that the final image has all the details you need.
How to Take HDR Photos
Taking HDR photos is very simple. All you really need to do is take two or more photos of the outdoor sculpture you’re trying to shoot. These photos should be taken at different exposure settings. One should show the details in the sky, and the other should clearly show the sculpture. The more exposures you take, the more details you can achieve.
Once done with your photos, simply bring them inside my HDR processor of choice, Aurora HDR 2017, and merge them all into one cohesive image. This final HDR photo can then be processed as you wish within Aurora HDR to your heart’s content.
HDR photography is not something that can be learned very easily, of course. You should practice as much as you can by taking photos of different objects to figure out what kinds of exposures work best in any given situation. Once you’re confident about it, you won’t have to worry about waiting for the perfect conditions to shoot your next piece of outdoor art.