Thursday, 10 March 2011

Don's Photo Editing Process

After a shoot: I'll go through my images and rate them, the ones that I like, I sort and filter, then I go through the following image processing method.

Try to GET IT RIGHT in CAMERA: It really mustn't go without saying that every photographer should try to capture in camera what they were envisioning at the point of shooting.
Remembering; focus, ISO, apperture, speed, light and composition. One thing that can never be replicated effectively in software is the amazing effects of a polarising filtre to reduce glare, haze and enhanced colour saturation.

Too many times I've left my polarising filtre behind and regretted it. It's the one filtre you should always have with you. But don't be tempted to leave it on your camera all the time, it will reduce your lenses ability by about 1 or 2 stops of light. Again, I've made that mistake in low light situations and missed some great shots. So take it off again before you move on from one location to another, particularly if you are going indoors. You just never know what photo-opportunities are going to pop up:-)

My Photo Editing Process:
In lightroom, working in RAW (Nikon NEF files from my D700 or D40x).
Working on RAW files in Lightroom is non-destructive, so you can always simply go back to your original image immediately.

Why Shoot in RAW mode? (I'll be covering that in another section in some detail, but suffice to say here, you can render more detail without introducing noise into your images if you edit in RAW.)

  1. CROP YOUR IMAGE: As I said before, try to get your composition right when you take the shot, but sometimes you will feel the need to crop an image. Do so first before any other adjustments.
  2. EXPOSURE: If you've captured your image right, your exposure should be spot on, but there are times when you many need to bring back some detail in the highlights or shadows.
    1. Highlight Recovery. Brings back details into burnt out areas.
    2. Fill Light: Reveals details in the darkest shadows of an image. 
    3. Black slider: Adjust this until there are no blow-out blacks.
  3. COLOUR ENHANCE: It's always good to see your photo looking great on screen. So do a global colour enhance no. I rarely use the Saturation slider now in Lightroom, because the Vibrance slider is much more subtle and doesn't affect skin tones very much at all. 
  4. CONTRAST: I don't use the contrast slider by adjust the curve in the tone curve panel to produce a slight 's' curve from top right to bottom left. (At this stage I leave the Highlight and Lowlight warnings in the histogram view on).  
  5. LOCAL Adjustments: Colour, lightness / darkness... The adjustment brush is wonderful for this. You can create stunning works using this tool.
  6. CLONING & CLEANING: Dust Spots: Spot removal tool.
  7. DODGING, BURNING: Again using the adjustment brush, but remember to select new, if you've used it already.
  8. VIGNETTE.: use the post crop vignetting tool sliders. (Look at most of the great artistic masterpieces and you'll discover the secrets of the effect.)
  9. NOISE REDUCTION: You'll not need to use this very often these days, cameras are just so good in low-light conditions and noise isn't really a problem. However, it's good to do it gently and watch the effect carefully in your image.
  10. SHARPENING: is much better in Lightroom 3, but I sometimes leave this if I'm going to do more work in PS5.


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