Work on digital photography shooting & editing skills simultaneously

Nikon D300 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/4 ISO 200 1/5000th processed in Aperture 3, Photoshop CS5, Nik Color Efex Pro 3, Topaz Adjust 3

It is a source of pride still among pro, serious amateur, hobbyist and beginner photographers alike to get it right in camera.  By that they mean one should not need to do that much editing to images to produce a great finished shot if only the settings in the camera were optimal to begin with.  I used to think like that.  I still do not shoot lazily thinking I can fix this or that in Photoshop as much as I possibly can, the biggest exception being I know I will have to edit out my light stand's shadow in some backlit portrait shots.  However, I find myself more and more realizing having strong editing skills can mine gold from, well, a bland river (pun intended).

The above shot was made while teaching a photography lesson to a student.  My full attention was not put into photographing the subject matter as best as possible as I was of course focused on helping my student make the best possible image she could.  Still, there was something about the shot I liked, mostly the one guy sitting down facing the opposite way, as well as the graffiti and color reflected in the Hillsborough River.  Basically, I saw the potential the image had.

So I opened up my digital darkroom as Rick Sammon likes to call it, and mined a final shot that though technically not perfect (focus slightly behind rowers, etc.), has some pop to it due to the color Topaz Adjust and Color Efex Pro were able to bring out from the RAW file.  I then applied selective contrast adjustments to the wall and the water.  

Therefore, I recommend working on your editing skills just as hard as you work on your in the field shooting skills.  Develop them simultaneously.  If I combined my shooting skills today, with my editing skills of even just one year ago, I would not be able to produce as many images that pop as I can now.  This is especially true for when shooting during non-golden-hour times.   

One day soon I will return to this location to do a photo series of crew rowers, as I find it is a subject matter and location I am drawn too.  I made this photograph from the University of Tampa campus side of the river.  It was about 3pm on a weekday afternoon.

Just the basic processed RAW file, as "straight out of the camera" a photo made in RAW can get

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