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.
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.
More pics in Kenw's Gallery
Have you broken any rules today? .....why not?
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 - 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.
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'm not trying to promote myself here but if anyone would be willing to check out my most recent posting on Flickr and be able to tell me what I edited properly and/or improperly it would help me out immensely. They are storm chase photos, nothing railroad related fyi.
Thanks for all the advice and pointers so far everyone.
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