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Have you ever struggled with a photograph, knowing what you want to achieve, but not quite seeing it on your computer monitor, no matter how hard you try?

The process from the capture of an image to its completion as a print can be short and sweet, or long and laborious. Often it has less to do with the photographer's abilities in Lightroom or Photoshop and more to do with what he or she thinks the final outcome should be. You know what you want, but the finished result eludes you. What's the answer?

Practice. Now, I know you didn't want to read this, but it's the truth. The more we practise, the more we problem-solve and the more skills we develop.

Practice is one solution, learning skills from another can help too. In the current issue of Better Photography, we've published the steps taken to produce 'Under Coronet Peak'. Not only do we show you the post-production, we discuss the capture and the raw processing, plus the output to print. It's interesting how in the process, decisions can be made and unmade as we live with the image, listening to what it has to say. Sounds a bit odd, but the more I process my work, the more I realise that practice and time are the necessary ingredients.

So, when editing our images, why do we make these changes? Because we believe the changes produce a better looking photograph.

Why do we think the photograph looks better? Because in our memories, we have a database of 'good' photographs and paintings that demonstrate to us certain techniques and approaches that we like and these memories inspire us to produce images that look similar.

And this is what many photographers get wrong when they start learning post-production. They want to know how to apply a curve adjustment layer or brush. This is a good question, but it's only a part of the question.

A better question is, how do I make this photograph stronger? How can I lighten up the foreground so the viewer can see all the
wonderful detail more easily? How can I make the river stand out from the rest of the landscape, because I want viewers to take
notice of the river? Or the cloud. Or the person.

The more images we process to completion, the better equipped we are to process tomorrow's work.

You can read more about this image in Better Photography by subscribing to Better Photography magazine online. You'll find details on the website.

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