RPP for begginers

I spend a lot of time studying color from aesthetic and technological points of view. Eventually I figured out that the really good results can be achieved by studying several points of view to color.

On the one hand, you must study the artistic properties of color – study the works of the acknowledged masters of color photography, view beautiful movies, visit museums and exhibitions, study the history of painting and art, and reading books. All this creates a visual experience, refines your perception of color and artistic taste, sets your priorities and criteria, creates a solid aesthetic base for working with color photography.

On the other hand, you should be able to use all this knowledge when shooting. You must not only understand, but feel how color is binded to light. You should know how to find colorful scenes, master lighting and feel the right moment to push the shutter release button.

And for last, but not least, you should know that the process of creating a beautiful photo in color won’t be completed unless we have the technology to implement our ideas. Speaking of color photography the most important parts are RAW conversion and post-processing your shots.

It is really odd, but in the era of digital photography, when we have a handful of ways to process our images, the post-processing is the most troublesome part for many photographers. For two years now I am writing a book about causes of this trouble and quality ways to overcome it. The book would be called “Living digit”. It will be available in Russian this fall. I also look forward to publish it in English in about a year.

Briefly, most of the problems in modern digital photography are associated with purely technical approach, deprived of any aesthetic component. It is believed that the manufacturer should give maximum picture editing possibilities and let the consumer create nice colors. Problem is, that the average consumer does not have any education in arts and have no idea of what colors look nice or even how to get the desired result. In the days of film photography things were all different – photographers were supported right from the beginning, because the film itself and the film processing technology contained some pre-programmed resulting colors that would look good . And this result was researched and designed not by engineers, but by artists and professional photographers.

Today the big manufacturers are not interested in such research and are not determined to bring aesthetics to digital photography. Lack of understanding of color harmony creates lots of ugly colored photos and lots of moaning about “how beautiful colors were in the era of film photography”. But things are not as bad as they seem. Some little-known enthusiasts and professional photographers with vast knowledge and work experience try to create alternative means and instruments to process digital photos.

One of such instruments – Raw Photo Processor (RPP) software. I found this software on my long quest of creating beautiful colors. Yet one must understand that no software can have some magic “Masterpiece” button and create a work of art in one click. The beauty of the picture is determined by photographer, the scene itself and the way of processing the raw shot. However, some smart software can greatly simplify things. I like the logic and results of RPP, thats why I recommend this software to other photographers. This does not mean that good result can’t be achieved by use of other instruments. This means that I believe RPP to be the shortest way to it.

You are about to read the translation of my article, once published in my blog in Russian and found very interested by other photographers. If my English-speaking readers found it interesting as well, I will continue to translate my articles about modern digital photography. In fact, I have lots of them!

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How to use curves

This article is mainly addressed to those new to photography, although may be useful for more advanced photographers.

There are plenty of articles written on curves today, but at the same time not enough. Most of these articles are about Curves tool in Adobe Photoshop. But curves themselves are much broader and important term. Although it is really easier to study how they work in Photoshop, it should be comprehended that curves are integrated in almost any photography software, one way or another. Even if you do not see familiar instrument, it probably exists and affects image. Even when you adjust Brightness or Contrast in Lightroom, you are actually control some kind of curve. Not to mention displaying picture on your screen is impossible without gamma-adjustment and managing brightness-contrast characteristics through display ICC profile, which are also controlled by curve. Moreover, when you shoot on film, image which you see after developing is affected by characteristic curve of particular film you have used.

Thus, despite what kind of camera you use and how much attention you pay to developing image in either dark or light room, understanding curves is rather crucial. And not only for photographers: scanning clerks, color-correctors, designers, print workers and many other specialists who work with raster graphics use curves. Hence, curves is primary (often the only one) and most effective tool to process pictures.

One can write a whole book on curves, and I will not be surprised if it already exists. This article is by no means exclusive or, moreover, comprehensive. In fact, my laziness made me write it – it’s easier for me to write one article than to explain the same thing to students every time. Articles I have read do not serve my teaching purpose, for one reason or another. Another reason why I wrote it is that none of the articles I happened to read presented an adequate guide to Curves. Most of them are too focused on Curves in Photoshop, not elaborating enough on key relationships between curves shape and its effect on picture.

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