Updated: Oct 30, 2018
by Mark Fitzgerald
I admit that I chose to review the book Zen of Postproduction by Mark Fitzgerald largely because I was curious about the "zen" in the title. Compared to the other books and articles I was reading about zen photography, this one stood out as being different - and a little less zen-like.
Most of the articles and books I'd been reading were about the experience of photography, post-production seems to be another animal altogether.
The second title to this book is largely the more accurate "Stress-Free Photography Workflow and Editing". This, I can wrap my head around.
I find post-processing just as absorbing and meditative as I find the capturing of the image in the first place, but I know that some of my fellow photographers find post-processing a challenging and stressful experience. This book is for them.
One reason I find post-processing mindful, almost calming is that I am completely absorbed in the image and I change it by focusing on one decision at a time. This is exactly the approach Mark wants us to take. Early in the book he describes his view of post-processing:
"Image editing is really about solving problems. When I'm working on a photo, I evaluate the image to identify what's not working visually. Then I find the best way to manage the problems I find. If I don't like the color in the photo, I change it. If an area is too dark, I lighten it. If there's something odd along the edge when cropping a photo, I find a way to minimize it. Throughout the editing process, I continually look for problems to be solved. If one problem's solution creates another problem, I deal with it. When all problems have been solved, the editing process is complete and the photo is ready for output."
This is how I approach post-processing, too but I know that others simply get overwhelmed and stressed by the sheer number of decisions and changes that can be made. This book helps photographers by going step-by-step through the various choices that we can make during post-processing. Mark takes things one step at a time and doesn't lay too much out all at once.
Zen of Postproduction is a "how to" book, a technical manual for the Adobe programs Lightroom and Photoshop, with a few other plug-ins discussed later in the book. The bulk of the book, more than half, is devoted to Lightroom. He then takes us through the parts of Photoshop that are useful for photographers.
It is written in a very down-to-earth style as Mark takes us through the programs. I use Lightroom and Photoshop a lot, but I tend to be the sort of person who explores and experiments until I figure something out. In other words, I rarely read how-to manuals. My way is a lot of fun, but it sometimes leaves me with gaps in my knowledge. I read the book with interest, looking for the tips and tricks I'd missed. I generally found one or two in each section.
Mark uses a lot of his own photos as examples and walks us through each step of his post-production decisions. He's not showing you how to post-process his way, he's showing you where the tools are in Lightroom and Photoshop to make your vision happen. The book is full of screenshots so you can follow along with the programs open on your own computer and with your own photos.
Mark's workflow is not the only way to go, but it is a way and it will work. He talks through the reasons that he does the things he does and lessons he's learned from working with other photographers including the mistakes his students often make - and mistakes he's made himself.
If I can bring a bit of Zen into the process of post-production, it is to accept where you currently are in your post-processing skills. Use the tools you need and forget the rest, you'll find them when you need them. Don't beat yourself up for not seeing what others see or thinking you need to do more post-processing.
If you're new to post-processing or are one of those folks who likes to have a guide on your post-production trips, this is a perfect book for you.
From the Published Description:
Breathe deep and relax - this book takes the stress out of photography post-production
While capturing the perfect photograph is a welcome creative challenge for photographers, post-production can often be a headache. Downloading, sorting, tagging, editing, and distributing your digital images - especially the enormous quantities produced in today's image-happy world - can be overwhelming. Time to take a deep breath and sit down with a copy of this calming book. Digital worksflow teacher and author Mark Fitzgerald offers low-stress, post-production photography workflows and editing solutions that will make your life easier.
Walking you through the latest photography software, especially Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, Mark offers sensible advice and answers all your post-production questions, whether you're a professional photographer, serious amateur, or motivated novice.
Takes the stress out of photography post-production by offering effective, timesaving, no-hassle solutions for overworked digital photographers
Helps you streamline and simplify such post-production tasks as downloading, sorting, tagging, editing, and distributing digital images
Explores the latest photography software, with special emphasis on Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop
Offers straightforward advice for professional photographers and serious amateurs
Includes practical, real-world examples, so you can immediately apply what you're learning
Get into a better, more relaxing place with your photography post-production workflows and tasks with Zen of Post Production: Stress-Free Photography Workflow and Editing.
Article Written by Jennifer Mishra
Jennifer Mishra is an American travel photographer born in Colorado and based in the St. Louis metro area. -- And she's a member of the St. Louis Women in Focus group. She has a background in classical music and academia. She is the founder of PhotoYoga. Her photos are published at Wits End Photography or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
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