Here's some insight into the editing process. It's likely that every image you've seen anywhere relevant has been edited. Even your mobile phones and point and shoot cameras edit photos. They decide how bright, how colorful, how sharp, how contrasty etc. Like most high-end professional photographers, I shoot in RAW format files. These files are unedited by my camera. They need to be "developed" in a digital darkroom, much like film is developed. It's here that the photographer can decide what the final image will look like. Like many purists, I'm usually trying to make the scene look as near as possible to they way it looked when I shot the image. If for some reason, it did not look good when I shot it, I'll try to make it look like it should have been under better conditions. In terms of commercial photography (i.e. Golf Course Photography), the client will usually appreciate the "product" looking at it's best. Just like a Victoria's Secret model needs a bit of help here and there, so do many of our commercial and landscape models as well. It is quite a quandary that even the most expensive cameras are not capable of reproducing what the human eye sees. As I travel the world and view other photographic craftsmen, they are always using technical "tricks" to produce the image that they hope will replicate the moment at hand. They use polarizing and neutral density filters, bracketing, long exposures, HDR processing, tripods, remote releases, lighting, reflectors, backdrops, tilt-shift lenses and of course digital software to process it all. The joke is "Teach your kids photography. They'll never have enough money to do drugs!"
I start by downloading the images into my PC or laptop. If I'm on the road, I'll keep the images on the memory card as a backup (I've got plenty), or if I'm home I'll backup the images onto another storage drive, just in case. Then I start the process of going through the images and deciding individually if each one is worth keeping and developing or not. At the time of this writing, I'm working on a golf course project where I shot over 1,200 images. Processing each one of those would take forever, so the process begins with making final choices. These choices are based on: subject matter, composition, lighting, focus, client requests and aesthetic considerations. I personally will try to process each and every one of the images that I think could be used in a commercially viable way. I use a variety of software to complete the editing process, including but not limited to, Lightroom, Photoshop, Adobe Camera RAW, Adobe Bridge, NIK software suite by Google, Raya Pro and Photomatix by HDR Soft. The starting point is with adjusting light levels including black point, white point, levels/curves adjustments, shadows/highlights adjustments, contrast, clarity and overall exposure. Then comes color adjustments of temperature, saturation, vibrance and tint. This is followed by minor tweaks in sharpness and noise reduction, as well as adjusting horizons, distortion and minor cropping. It is at this point when the decisions are made to enhance the image. In golf course photography, I'll typically have to do some "Photoshop" work to fix some issues. These might include: removing dead and brown spots, cloning out distracting elements like some sprinklers, irrigation control boxes, divots, cart directional signs and the like (possibly some golfers too!). Frequently a bit of light airbrushing is done to enhance grass color and continuity. Once the image is "complete" it is converted from 16bit to 8bit and then saved as a high quality, high-resolution jpeg file for client use. The developed RAW file is also saved as a master file for future use. Again the images are backed-up for safety as soon as possible. Once the image is ready, it is then uploaded onto the ShayArt website into a private or password-protected gallery for client access.