Retouching vs Processing vs Out of the Camera

In this article I am NOT going to tell you how other photographers are doing anything wrong.  I’m not going to slam or put down anyone.  I’m also NOT going to say, “This is the right way to do this.”.  I AM going to tell you how WE do things.  I am going to tell you the differences in terminology as it applies to US!   First, some explanation of terms: RAW file:  The unfinished file as it comes out of the camera.  This file can only be read by specialized software and cannot be viewed until converted into another format, for example, jpeg. OOC or Out of the Camera:  This is what you would get if you took a RAW file and exported it without any “tweaks”.  It’s also what you would get if you created the photograph as a Jpeg in the camera, like most point and shoot cameras and cell phone cameras do. Editing:  To me, and anyone who shot film, EDITING is the process of choosing the “keepers” from a shoot.  You would put all your negatives out on a light table and sort them.  Today, many use this term for manipulating a photo in Photoshop or any of the myriad of image “editing” programs out there. Processing:  The taking of a RAW file and interpreting it, using various methods, to create the best image possible from that file.  Things such as white balance, exposure, contrast, minor defect removal, and minor dodging and burning would be included in this as well as black and white conversions, cross processing effects, etc.  EDITED (hehe), since most people will call this Editing, I will give in and do the same.... Retouching:  The taking of a PROCESSED file and making finer adjustments to it.  Removal of blemishes, stray hairs, etc.  Skin smoothing, body sculpting, removal of unwanted objects, distracting elements, and in general making the image suitable for reproduction in an album or print.   Ok,since we have that out of the way… Let me show you some examples.  You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words Smile.  So, here’s three thousand words worth:   First, is an “Out of the Camera” Image.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the subjects are beautiful, and the vast majority of the public would be quite happy with this image.  However, it’s just not finished.  It’s slightly underexposed and there’s some things that bug me. ooc_thumb[7]   Ok. Next up is a PROCESSED version of that image.  Take note of the exposure and contrast differences.  This is a much more pleasing result.  This is an example of what our customers can expect on their disk of images.   processed_thumb[2]   Last but not least, the crème de la crème!  The RETOUCHED image.  Notice his ear, her eyes, their skin, her hair.  Also, you will see some shadowing and modeling on the light of her face.  This is all considered retouching by us.  This is an example of what to expect in our Albums and Custom Prints.  (note:  due to the small size of images for the internet, we “overdid” some of the retouching for the sake of example Smile)   retouched_thumb[2]   There you have it!  The mysteries of Photographer’s Terms revealed!   -Brian