Monday, March 28, 2011

Understanding Post-Processing by Mitchell Kanashkevich

cover of Understanding Post-Processing
 Besides Rick Sammon's Light It! app, another tutorial I read over the weekend and that I'm excited about is Mitchell Kanashkevich's ebook Understanding Post-Processing.  Whereas Rick Sammon's app is addressed toward beginners and novices, Mitchell's ebook is primarily for intermediate or advanced amateurs and even pros.

Mitchell Kanashkevich is a travel photographer who's career as a pro started taking off not too long ago.  He's very modest about describing how he got there, but his gallery shows that his newfound success in his photographic career is no accident.

Many times, I've taken photos of scenes that had gorgeous lighting to my mind's eye but I felt I was unable to recreate that beauty in the photo that I took.  When I saw Mitchell's photos, I thought that many of his final images glowed with the kind of light that I have sometimes seen and sought to capture.

Mitchell has two ebooks, Seeing the Light and this one, Understanding Post-Processing.  I thought to myself: I've seen beautiful light, so perhaps his first ebook is not the critical piece that I'm missing.  I figured I would probably get his first ebook eventually, but I thought I had more to learn from his second book.

Mitchell's ebook is written with Photoshop and Lightroom in mind, though the techniques can be translated to other software as well, including Photoshop Elements 9 (whew, thank goodness).  His book assumes that the reader already has a good working knowledge of postprocessing programs, so it's not for the postprocessing novice and is written pithily (really -- it's 37 pages).  If, for example, layer masking is new to you, you might find this book challenging.  Rather, his book is for a reader who knows the technical steps of using various features of postprocessing programs, but is looking for direction in applying those techniques to photos.  (That's exactly where I am right now.)

Mitchell first discusses briefly the main tools that he uses, then he goes through 5 case studies of how he used those tools to achieve his final results, step-by-step.  In describing his steps, Mitchell explains his thought process, and shows the settings he used together with screen captures of the edits.  See thumbnails of his book at his website here.  The case studies all follow a similar process, but each one emphasizes a particular tool, thus providing readers with a view of Mitchell's general postprocessing workflow, as well as a better understanding of how particular tools can be used.

How well does the book fulfill its promise?  If you're a photographer with the level of postprocessing skill for whom this ebook is intended, none of the techniques are truly novel or earth-shattering.  However, this guide afforded me a glimpse into a gifted photographer's thoughts as he works on his images, and walking through the images showed me not only how he realizes his creative vision, but more importantly for my purposes, gave me insight and direction for elevating my post-processing work.

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