"Developing process"

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Railfanning Meteorologist
If anyone cares to share, what's your "secret recipe" for fixing up your photos (adjust on computer, crop, add watermark, resize, add effect, etc)? I'm a wannabe photographer and any insight or tips would be greatly appreciated.


5th Generation Texian
no secrets here, just a few years of learning....

1) straighten: level the horizons or make the vertical things vertical. Do this before you crop since you will lose some of the image. Be careful what you call verical, not all poles are!

2) since the world isn't a fixed aspect ratio, cropping is almost always going to improve your photo. Remember the rule of 1/3s (but use with judgement).

3) histogram tweak: adjust the brightness/contrast as required, most shots could stand some of this especially if shot with very high sun or very low light

3a) if you adjusted the histogram a significant amount in #3, you may need to do some smoothing or noise reduction. Not all noise is bad, so be very cautious. Too much noise reduction can make things blurry. Some software is better than others at this.

4) color balance adjustment: if you shot it right, the need to adjust is rare in daylight shots, but late/early shots can be tricky. I just adjust it until I like what I see....

5) If posting to the web, resize to no more than 1000pixels (landscape) or 700 tall (portrait) or whatever the particular forum recommends AND sharpen or unsharp mask only enough to restore sharpness lost in resizing.

DO NOT resize if you are printing commercially, let the printer do it, it will almost always do a better job of interpolation. Only crop to an aspect ratio (like 4x6, 8x10, etc); but do not resize if you are sending it off to print.

6) Once all is done I'll add the signature/copyright and Save As.....

This isn't a complete list but should get you started. Have fun.


Photo Critiques Welcome
Starting at capture I shoot RAW nearly all the time. Even if I “get it right in the camera” as they say, RAW gives the greatest possibility to bring the most out of the image that needs a little post processing. A batch process to JPEG’s makes short work of the ones that don’t need much tweaking.

I’ve listened to the shoot left (under expose) and shoot right (get the most data) discussions. I tend to turn in camera sharpening, contrast and saturation to zero and expose right.

In post processing I do:
• RAW adjustments like white balance, exposure adjustment, contrast, highlight & shadow recovery.
• If I’m going to crop or straighten I usually do it after the RAW adjustments. Some argue cropping should occur after RAW and global adjustments, some say it goes here.
• Global light and color adjustments. Black/white points if exposure was off, brightness (levels & curves). Color adjustments. Noise reduction if needed but once I quit pixel peeping it’s rarely needed. Noise is subjective but an image with a little noise can appear to have more depth than one without.
• Localized adjustments. Color, contrast, dust removal.
• Final adjustments. Sharpening and creative effects like bluring. If the image is going to be resized for posting I use a high pass filter to sharpen here.
• Output adjustments. Resizing (if needed) and output sharpening with unsharp mask and set the output color profile.

It isn’t secret. I picked most of it up from Jason Odell’s “The Photographer’s Guide to Capture NX2” and some from Luminous Landscape.
I use a similar work flow in Photoshop CS5. The Adobe Camera RAW converter gives a different feel to the image than NX2. I'm currently shooting with a D300 and D90 and feel that the RAW files are pretty close to my taste right out of the camera. I usually follow the following steps:

1. Open in Camera RAW and make initial adjustments to exposure, Recovery ( highlights ), Fill Light ( opening up shadow areas, and Vibrance.

2. Move on to editing in CS5 and straighten image ( if needed ) adjust levels, tweek color ( if needed ) and then apply light sharpening. Not a lot of sharpening is needed.

3. Save and move on to the next file. All of this takes around two minutes for a normally exposed image.

P.S. - I don't 'juice' the color which seems to have gotten out of control with a lot of photographers - I just don't think it looks natural. Not fond of HDR for the same reasons.
Don't sweat all this techno talk...you have to start with a good photo to begin with, and that takes the most technically advanced photographic system known to man...your eye working in league with your brain and imagination. To really hone in that technology, you just got to get out there shoot like crazy and learn from the mistakes you'll make.

It's that simple....at least that's how I do it.

Martin Burwash
Martin - lab talk is also 'techno talk'. What I'm describing is the digital equivalent of dark room tweeks. That's all - same thing, different tools.;)
Lots of experimentation! It'll take time to come to a workflow that is best for you.

Usually I go over it with a fine toothed comb on each image. I avoid batch processing. But usually import on camera RAW, if it's a model I will tweak the settings…landscapes I usually go straight to PS. Examine the image for dust or scratches, and apply the filter. Adjust for noise in the shadows if it's a higher ASA. Color balance, and curves next. Dodging and burning where appropriate. Resize for a website next, sharpen, watermark, and then post.


Railfanning Meteorologist
This reply has been a long time coming, but thank you all for your input and advice! I'm working on some stuff right now...more or less just messing around with different "tweaks." I'm sure this is a skill that will come with practice. Guess I better start then!
I agree a lot with what the other said. I always shoot raw and then post process in photoshop. I read somewhere the other day where this one photographer (decently famous and makes a good living at it) spends about 3 hours post processing each of his high end photos that he sells.

I don't get the people that don't like to crop, the people that say "I want to see it how I saw it through the lens". Photographically speaking I "grew up" in the darkroom and it was all about cropping. Get that neigtive in the enlarger and you paper just right and make the print. They you show it to your photo teacher who usually said "what if you cropped it like this" or "what if you cropped it like that". They even had to "L" shaped pieces of matte board that they would lay on your photo to show you what it would look like if it was cropped.

The other thing the photo teachers always said was "What if you Burn this" or "What if you Dodge that". Both are easily accomplised in Photoshop now.

If you "grew up" in the dark room, you will really like photoshop because it gives you the tools that you need to make great photos.
I think a lot of the Awesome storm photos you see are HDR or have a lot of post processing work.

I was say get a sturdy tripod and get that shutter open wide and get as much light in as possiable.

I have never shot a tornado. See several wall clouds and shelf clouds. With that said, some of my favorite storm shots are not looking in to the sun, rather have the sun to the side or back of the camera so that you get some light on the storm.
If anyone cares to share, what's your "secret recipe" for fixing up your photos (adjust on computer, crop, add watermark, resize, add effect, etc)? I'm a wannabe photographer and any insight or tips would be greatly appreciated.
Yes, before you worry about how to edit, #1 learn about exposure: ISO, f-stops and shutter speed and how each one will effect the other and the overall image. If you expose properly, you can shoot JPEG and not go through all the tweaking and adjusting of shooting RAW.

No in camera settings, do any sharpening and contrast or whatever else, afterwards when you can control it.

Effects are interesting but only as a tool for occasional use, when it can be applied in a situation for "effect". Even HDR becomes over used and common after a few shots. (see #1) ;)

Yes the rule of thirds is the rule, but you can train your eye to see things in balance and it will come naturally. People who have previous art training get a free pass and jump ahead of the rest of the world, because art students have already trained their eye for composition. Nice benefit.

I'm being honest when I say, people want to run, before they can walk, and for photography the most important and lasting knowledge is the foundations. Then you can add to that and get get creative and experimental.

As someone who's been shooting since at least the 60s on a regular basis, (I did have a dark room and a borrowed camera before that) the best thing about learning with digital is you don't waste film, you don't have to wait days for processing, you don't need to have a dark room, and if you don't like a shot, or you make a mistake, there's the little button, and it's forever reverted into random electrons somewhere in the Universe. :D

Shoot, shoot more, shoot some more. It's almost free. Experiment and learn, it's amazing. You might even take notes, but also reading the EXIF data is a wonderful tool to remind you want you did on the shots that failed, just as much as to remind yourself what was right about the shots that worked.

To be honest, after exposure fundamentals and basic composition principles I'd say Lighting is next. And maybe after that editing.

Yes, I'm of the expose to the right 1/3rd of a stop school. You can make blacks darker without noise in the shadows, but you can't make them lighter without creating hash and horrible noise issues.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. All the editing in the world can't rescue a "pig" image, but it can make a good one look even better.


But that would be my secret. Start with a good shot.
HDR's are often thought of as the what I'll call the over-done artistic shots. There are a lot of more subtle HDR’s out there that just look like really good lighting.
I agree. I also think some people stop short with HDR. They get done adding all the DR to the photo, but yet they don't add any contrast or blacks back in and the photo looks flat or like a pastel drawing.

If you expose properly, you can shoot JPEG and not go through all the tweaking and adjusting of shooting RAW.
My opinion... No matter how good you are, I would still always shoot raw. I shot JPG, then RAW, then went back to JPG for a little while and now my camera is permenantly set on RAW. Sometimes I go back and look for an old photo and I am disappointed when I find that old photo and its a JPG. It only takes a couple seconds to convert a raw file. Even if you exposure is dead on 100% of the time, its still great to have the option to go back and play with other things later on down the road.

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