Is Post Processing Necessary In Digital Photography?

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Afrina (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) asked : I am not a pro photographer but I enjoy doing it. When I go and visit flickr and other photographers' websites and blogs, I see pretty amazing photographs and they mentioned about using this software and that software. Do you think it is necessary to use any software to make your photograph look good?

I went through same situation a while ago when I got interested and started doing photography. I started reading books, blogs and website about it and the answer was not so clear to me whether I should use it all the time, sometime or shouldn't use it at all. Some of my friends used to say jokingly that, if you are using Photoshop to enhance your photographs then it's not photography, it is a Photoshopgraphy. I found it funny and meaningful at the same time but again, when I go and see other people's photograph, I forget all the critics and feel like software is also one of the important part of digital photography. After doing lots of research, I wrote a blog about post processing where I expressed what I felt about it and what are the best software for post processing.

To be honest, it is not always necessary to use a software to process your photographs but sometimes you find it necessary just to tweak some settings, color, lights or even crop your photographs. Some people think cropping is not really a post processing but I would say, if you use any software to manipulate your photographs by any means, then it is a post processing because you processed your photographs after taking it out from camera.

Let me present you an example of a photograph, before and after processing it, and you shall decide if post processing is really necessary or not. And also, as always, I welcome your comments as well.

Before post processing

Before post processing

I took this photograph of Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool last year. When I came home and downloaded the picture from my camera, I felt good about it's composition (symmetry) but felt like I was missing something. I was not really happy with the color contrast and thought of playing with color tone and contrast and see how it becomes. I then opened the picture using Capture NX2, one of my favorite photo editing software; specially if I am shooting in a RAW mode. I tweaked the color contrast and the brightness of the picture and it transformed the picture into the next level. Just a small tweak gave it a very nice effect and I was really impressed with the outcome. I felt like it looked more vibrant and lively after post processing.

After post processing

After post processing

Now the result is in front of you and I let you decide; is post processing really necessary in Digital Photography?