How I work
Getting it right in the camera
To create a quality photograph worth framing I feel it is important to start with the best negative or raw digital file possible. This can be achieved with knowledge of exposure metering, and the correct use of the camera, lenses, and accessories.
My preferred method of achieving the correct exposure is to use a handheld light meter. This allows me to find the exposure value for very small areas of light and shadow, allowing me to determine the contrast of the scene and make adjustments in order to capture the maximum amount of tonal detail in each image.
Sometimes when the contrast is too great; for example, the brightness of a sky is too great to retain detail, I use neutral density graduated filters in front of the lens to reduce the intensity of certain areas of the image. Another filter that is useful for landscape images is the polarising filter. This has the effect of reducing reflections on foliage, producing more natural colours when photographing woodland. It will also deepen a blue sky, and cut through water surface reflections.
As well as getting the exposure right, it is important to create well composed and sharp images. Often when photographing in low light, or for effect, the shutter can remain open for several second, even minutes. To retain sharp images in these circumstances it is necessary to use a sturdy tripod that is able to hold the weight of the camera and lens without shifting. The use of a cable/remote release is also recommended to eliminate shake caused by touching the camera prior to shutter release.
Enhancing the image in Post-production
In order to maximise flexibility during the editing stage I always have my camera set to record the image as a RAW image format. RAW files are unprocessed data that comes off the camera sensor. These files contain far more image data than a jpeg does. It also allows white balance, exposure, and sharpening to be altered after image capture.
To process these files I use Capture One Pro software. This programme allows for fine control of the digital developing process. Adjustments of colour, brightness & contrast, as well as more advanced adjustments can be carried out before exporting the image for final tweaks prior to printing.
Adobe Photoshop is probably the best known, and most widely used imaging software. I use it to make final adjustments prior to printing to ensure the best print possible. Photoshop has powerful tools for retouching dust spots that occasionally appear on the camera sensor.
I think the key to successful post-production lies in not going too far with these changes as it is very easy to push an image to the point where has no relation to the original scene.