by Art Suwansang Published 01/08/2011
Photography is a blank canvas for creative expression and its basic principles have not changed much through the years. What has change is the way we go about capturing the image and manipulating it in post-production. We have come from the days of darkroom printing - using an enlarger to expose light on sliver-coated paper, chemical bath, water rinse, hang and dry - to develop the image. Now our darkroom is simply our computer, and instead of manipulating silver crystal, we are transforming pixels on a screen where change is instantaneous. In the past, we would make multiple prints with a variety of adjustments to see what would look best. Fast forward to today, we are still doing the same thing with the digital image, finding variation through an assortment of image treatments and adjustments to express our vision.
Digital allows us to change and enhance images instantly, but how do we view and compare these changes to pick the best adjustment? For example: if you want an image (figure 1) in colour, black and white, sepia and cyanotype - how can these interim treatments be applied to the file and saved for later refinement? Let's examine two very common solutions to achieve this.
The first method involves making multiple duplicates of your original image so that different treatment may be applied to each of the copies. If you shoot RAW, then each of these copies would have their own adjustment parameter, or what is known as an XMP sidecar file. This approach creates unnecessary redundancy in your file storage system. The other method is to process the original RAW file into a Tiff or Photoshop Document, PSD file, and use layers to apply effects. However, this approach does not allow you to readily compare the effects side by side. These two methods work, but they are far from efficient, and both consume a large amount of disk space.
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