Why photos need to be digitally enhanced.

Most people look at great photos and think that they're that way because the photographer used a great camera. That fiction is perpetuated by camera manufacturer's ads that try to make you think that if only you had a better camera you'd get similar results, just as a golf club manufacturer would like you to believe you'll play more like Tiger Woods if you use their clubs.

Don't get me wrong, as a pro, the quality of the equipment that I use is very important to me. I also know though that the work that I deliver has received considerable post-production, enhancing and retouching. Even though I use top of the line equipment, the images that come out of my camera are ALWAYS enhanced in some way. I won't settle for what the camera gives me.

In addition to great lighting and composition, the best photos that you see in ads are almost always digitally enhanced and retouched. Products, places, people. . . (even supermodels).

The best photographer in the world can't deliver perfection unless the subject is perfect. . . and they never are.

Cameras don't see the same way our eyes do. They're sensitive to changes in the color of light that the human eye can't detect. They can't handle scenes with a wide range of brightnesses like our eyes do - shadow areas go black and bright areas lose detail. On the other hand, the resolution of good lenses pick up every little flaw, every piece of dust on a product, every pore in a face, every defect, and bring them to our attention.

Before digital photography, the great photographers like Ansel Adams produced amazing images by complex darkroom maneuvers that improved on the images that the cameras produced. Now this is done using a computer in the "digital darkroom".

The purpose of digital enhancement and retouching is to improve the imperfect and create an image that looks far better than the camera is capable of recording on it's own. When it's done properly it's all undetectable by the viewer.

To learn more and see a gallery of photos that are digitally enhanced, including many before and afters, read this article: Photoshop Expert Techniques and this: Before and After Images.