You call it Photo Editing, I call it Digital Darkroom

You call it Photo Editing, I call it Digital Darkroom

Even though post-processing is one of photography’s step that every photographer has to follow, but many people think that post-processing isn’t necessary. More than that, many think that a great photographer is a photographer who doesn’t need post-processing. Really?

Let’s try to think what the word associate with post-processing:

photoshop, photo-editing, photomanipulation

That’s what I can think of. But I think there’s more.

The common thought about those words is post-processing is changing a photo to look better. Like these photos for example:

before
after

And that criticism always associated with post-processing. That post-processing is a dirty or cheating way to make a photo look better. That those who edit their photo are not a real photographer. Maybe it sounds harsh, but even the word “photo editing” frequently associated with “cheating.”

But that is not true. For a simple reason, that post-processing always gonna happen. Whether you like it or not.

Photo Without Post-Processing. Really?

If you know someone who uses a digital camera and said that they never need to edit their photo, that means the person just never realize a simple fact. Every photo taken in JPEG format in a digital camera will always automatically enhance the quality of the photo. And so, post-processing.

For example, I take a photo of a waterfall in JPEG format. Camera this days gonna automatically render the photo, like increase the saturation, increase the contrast, enhance the sharpness, and so on. Everything that automatically done in camera is the same thing you gonna do if you wanna post-processing on the computer.

Don’t believe me? Why don’t you check it yourself. Take a photo in JPEG and RAW format, and look for the difference between those two. You’ll notice immediately the different quality.

The only way to take a photo without any post-processing is by taking the photo in RAW format.

Digital Darkroom

The idea of a darkroom is usually the place to print a photo. But that’s not all.

In the old age when there is no computer, a darkroom is a place where photo editing happen. Increase contrast, increase clarity, retouching, etc. With the final step printing.

When I think about it, there’s no different with using a computer software to enhance the quality of a photo. The different is you don’t need an entire room, only a few meters chunk of metal (you know what I mean).

And so I called post-processing in a computer as a digital darkroom.

disclaimer: I’m not the one who create the term. I just heard it from somewhere, but forget where from.


There you have it. I previously said that many think that a great photographer is a photographer who doesn’t do post-processing.

I can say for certain, it’s just myth. Almost every professional photographer gonna said that post-processing is necessary. That they always take a photo in RAW format, put it in a computer, and edit it in any way they like.

Exception for a photojournalist. Since they have to take photos in JPEG format and aren’t allowed to edit their photos. Because of ethical duties.

14 thoughts on “You call it Photo Editing, I call it Digital Darkroom

  1. I love that title. Digital Darkroom. I can’t wait to learn everything about editing. It is a learning curve but when I see what people are doing with it, it is well worth taking the time to do so.

    1. You are absolutely right!!!
      I remember when I started photography. I had no interest in post-processing. But I also want to make my photo look better. Then I realize, all of them do post-processing. So I start to learned it and it took me a month. But it totally worth it.

  2. Even a simple crop can improve a photo in post. Of course, I recall “dodging” beneath an enlarger during my days in film. Post is part of the artistic and photographic process.

  3. Spot on! And it made me feel better too! I edit every photo that I shoot and I am forever grateful that I don’t have to go in a darkroom with all those toxic chemicals and process my 35 mm film black and white film, and hope I got a good shot. You wrote an awesome article. Keep it up!

  4. It gives me the opportunity to take photographs I wouldn’t be sharing and fix them. Take a boring scene and liven it up . Create art and beauty. For the amount of time Photoshop has been around, and the price, The majority of people are using it in one form or another. That doesn’t stop one from searching for and taking great pictures.

  5. Excellent point related to in camera processing and the nay sayers – I think there’s a bit of psuedo
    snobbery in the “straight out of the camera crowd” who apparently aren’t aware of in camera
    processes – kind of like those who deride “natural light” as a haven for those who don’t know
    how to use to other forms.
    The truth of the matter is if there were no in camera or “post processing” when it comes to digital
    images there would be no digital photography age.

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