Saturday, November 27, 2010

PP? What's that all about?

I've probably mentioned it several times in previous posts, and just took it for granted you knew what I was talking about - but for those of you don't... PP means "Post Processing".

It encompasses anything and everything that you might do to the image after you download it from the camera to your computer. Actually, many cameras now allow you to apply PP while the picture is still ON the camera - so technically, it is any manipulation you apply after TAKING the picture.

PP ranges from the basic 'crop' (to select the best part of your image), to slightly more advanced manipulation of contrast or brightness of the whole picture or removing red eye reflections, through to advanced manipulations involving multiple images in layers like a stack of pancakes, with bits erased here and there so different layers show through, effects such as sepia applied, blurring backgrounds, sunny skies removed and replaced with moody stormy clouds... the possibilities are limited only by your imagination (hey - that sounds like a great tagline... uhm...)

So what do you need to 'PP' your pictures?  The ultimate tool, and probably the one most professionals and enthusiasts use is Adobe's Photoshop.  However, it IS expensive (note to Adobe - please make it more accessible to the rest of us), and there are alternatives available.  The GIMP is free, and has a lot of the most commonly used Photoshop capabilities.  Adobe also has Photoshop Elements, which is a simplified version of Photoshop with an easier interface aimed at the 'consumer' market, and also Lightroom which is kind of a halfway house - a simplified version of Photoshop but aimed at the 'prosumer' market (I hate that word - so pretentious).  Other programs also give access to various levels of manipulations, such as FastStone Viewer, or the Apple Mac's iPhoto application.

Many web based photo albums, such as Picasa, photobucket, flickr, facebook, and more, have links into an online tool called Picnik, which gives all kinds of cool fun effects you can add to your photos, though it is aimed more at the fun effects, rather than as a serious contender for a Photoshop replacement.  You can also use Picnik directly on the pictures from your own PC.

So, apart from removing red-eye from Aunty Mabel, cropping the picture so cousin George is no longer in it, and boosting the contrast on that rather washed out landscape that you accidentally over-exposed... what can you do with PP?  What is the point?

In the next post (and I promise to put some pictures in that one) or soon anyway - maybe not the very next post... I'll give you a few examples, and talk you through how they were created.

Till then,
Happy Snappin


  1. Oh rats. I hate posts with cliff hangers... I got a chance to try out my grandpa's version of PSE 9, (the newest) and loved it. I have version 2..... Can't wait to get it for my own! I also saw CS5 though and have the same thoughts as you. Too expensive...

  2. LOL - Sorry Amy, but it was just going to be far too long if I started posting PP'd shots with explanations as well. I promise I won't leave you dangling for too long...

    I still use CS3. My poor little laptop isn't powerful enough to run CS4 :(