DPChallenge: A Digital Photography Contest You are not logged in. (log in or register
 

DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Do you edit your pictures? LONGISH READ
Pages:  
Showing posts 1 - 24 of 24, (reverse)
AuthorThread
08/15/2020 04:29:54 PM · #1
Iím often asked, ďDo you do anything to your pictures?Ē Implying, but not explicitly asking, ďIt didnít really look like that, did it??Ē

My answer? "Yes, I did some stuff."

My goal with most images is to represent the 3D experience in a 2D format. But how to represent ripples on water, the low angled warmth of the sun, floating clouds, and the texture of granite? That is the challenge. At its core, photography is capturing light, and the more impactful that light is, the better photo it makes. But, it isnít just light, itís other senses as well: smell, sound, touch, and cold feet on an early morning.

So, back to the answer, yes, I do manipulate my images with post-processing, and varying degrees of adjustments. Iíll walk you through a before and after image with my basic thoughts and process. I hope it is helpful to those who also enjoy photography, or others who want the real scoop on why a scene looks too good to be real. Remember- Iím going for the image AND the feeling (experience).

Here is a SOTC (straight out of the camera) image from last weekend at Union Reservoir. I chose this image for illustration, because it didnít ďneedĒ much enhancement, it already had 1)strong foreground objects, low angle afternoon light, mid-ground trees(backlit is a bonus), and the always attractive blend of complementary colors, blue and orange/yellow. Mid-summer clouds in the Sierra are a bonus and in this image they create depth and subtle leading lines. This is a single exposure; more advanced techniques such as blending images, HDR, or in camera bracketing werenít needed.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42013/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1253256.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42013/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1253256.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42013/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1253257.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42013/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1253257.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Note that it is captured in Canon RAW format, basically an unaltered, unprocessed and non-compressed file format that enables a high degree of manipulation because of the detail contained in each pixel. In fact, it is assumed that a RAW file requires a basic level of contrast, saturation, and other adjustments to pull out detail, approximately reflecting the actual scene.

Notice the elements mentioned above which are presented here. Itís a ďdecent pictureĒ but to my eye, it looks incomplete and doesnít match the feeling of standing there while the sun slides away and the clouds melt.

My first image is the straight RAW file, second image is jpg format which reflects basic adjustments to the RAW file. It has slight contrast adjustment, straightening via crop tool, and more color saturation(contrast adjustments increase saturation). The JPG is improved, but still lacking. If you are shooting standard jpg files, your image would look something like mine. The camera made the choices about how to present the final output. Itís like ordering a cake but only telling the baker to write happy birthday, and not providing any other directions. Good luck with that.

*All edits completed in Adobe Lightroom but most editing programs(even free ones) have similar tools.

Here is my basic workflow,... it changes often as I experiment with new tools, learn from others, or forget the steps I used last time to achieve a look. But thatís ok, photography is a creative process for me.

1- Crooked horizons drive me crazy! Straighten and crop. Donít bother cropping to perfect size, make final cropping one of your final steps (Iíll cover it later). If there is something especially obnoxious (like your friends stray flip flop) that you donít want to look at, go ahead and crop it out now.

2- Lighten shadows. Most files can use lightening in the shadow areas. Your eyes are capable of adjusting from shade to sun (dark to light) in an instant. Your camera image needs a little help to do the same. Drag the slider to the right until it looks good.

3- Reduce highlights. See above, but drag slider to the left. This image had very bright areas right/middle and pulling down the highlights bring out detail in the water and sky. Salt and pepper to taste. The bright area has areas of blown out whites but Iím OK with it because the sun was quite bright and I like the brightness. Again, Iím going for the feeling of Sierra sun.

3- Color Saturation. Go easy; we arenít going after a unicorn farm. Or maybe you are. In that case, push until it looks like skittles.

4- Vibrance bump. +5/10 is about normal for me.

5- Spot Adjustments. There are endless options here- Iíll hit the main ones used.

-apply oval adjustment mask in the sunlit area on right, change color temperature to the warmer side. This enhances the already present warm tones.

-apply another small oval adjustment mask to the clump of trees in the center to both brighten and enhance the back lighting.

-spot adjustments, lighten and darken areas of the rocks to highlight their curves. Reduce color saturation on rocks. They felt to warm.

-gradient adjustment to darken the sky. This darkens the blues and gives the white clouds more pop. Also, it directs the viewer toward the center area.

6- Darken perimeter with a light vignette. Attempted to keep it subtle.

7- Crop to desired size and resolution. I prefer 2:3 or 3:2 ratio(original dimensions) although Iíll sometimes crop to square if Iím feeling adventurous.

I export/save a copy resized at 1200 pixels on the long edge for web display.

*Sharpening the file is an art in itself and a topic for another time.

Hope this helps you understand how I manipulate an image and my creative process in doing so.

PS: Kudos to Michael for being patient enough to stand around and chat while I fiddled with my camera.

PS2: zoom in and find the bonsai tree, my favorite part of the scene.' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/3000-3999/3065/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1252369.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/3000-3999/3065/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1252369.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Questions? Fire away.

08/15/2020 04:38:55 PM · #2
<like>
08/15/2020 05:06:09 PM · #3
Originally posted by glad2badad:

<like>

<Like x100>

Beautiful essay, Mark!
08/16/2020 01:27:47 AM · #4
Very nice, Mark, I always admire your beautiful landscapes. You are effectively "painting" your vision, to me this is what creativity is about.
08/16/2020 10:11:48 AM · #5
Thanks, Mark, very much for your informative, well-written and generous essay. It's inspirational to be able to follow your thinking and subsequent relization. I went back and forth many times trying to understand your subtle enhancements to the foreground rocks. The entire transformation was fascinating and wonderful.
08/16/2020 11:52:55 AM · #6
Nicely put together, Mark. I used to edit a lot more, but I've greatly simplified lately.

95% of what I shoot is wildlife, and of that 75% are birds. So I'm often dealing in high shutter speeds and high ISO, and sometimes poor light. And almost always some level of cropping.

For me, my workflow is now this...

1. Crop.

2. Denoise. Topaz Denoise AI has revolutionized my workflow. It's a first step that allows me to easily deal with ISO 4000-6400 on a photo of a small animal and preserve the detail in a way I haven't been able to previously.

3. Adjust the lighting. I cap my ISO at 6400 so sometimes I'm still getting a dark image. More times than not I simply use Camera Raw Filter on the denoised image to correct the exposure, reduce the contrast, reduce highlights, and boost shadows to produce a flat but well exposed image. I tweek the white balance as necessary, and then use the Curves section to adjust the contrast.

4. Adjust saturation and coloring. Still in Camera Raw I use the HSL section to selectively adjust saturation and luminosity of certain colors.

5. Sharpen. As mentioned this is a art and I've painted some bad photos. I now use a combination of (or just one of) the Texture slider and Sharpening section of Camera Raw, and Topaz Adjust AI. More times than not all my sharpening happens in the latter.

After that I may dodge and burn to bring out the subject.
08/16/2020 11:45:45 PM · #7
Thank you. Iím glad you enjoyed the extra detail. I found it personally clarifying to write it out and share.

Jake- I too tend to spend much less time editing now than I used to, mainly be ause Iíd rather be doing something other than sitting in front of a screen. Noise reduction is a correction I often forget about until Iím nearly finished with editing. Not as big of a deal for landscapes and ISO settings from 100-400 I guess. Cheers
08/17/2020 11:17:15 AM · #8
I enjoyed that for the information and the humor, Mark!

Unicorn farm... hahahhaha!

08/17/2020 01:11:00 PM · #9
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

3. ... I simply use Camera Raw Filter on the denoised image to correct the exposure, reduce the contrast, reduce highlights, and boost shadows to produce a flat but well exposed image. I tweek the white balance as necessary, and then use the Curves section to adjust the contrast.

I'm curious to see how first reducing the contrast and then increasing it later works -- any chance you could post and example sequence?

Message edited by author 2020-08-17 13:11:21.
08/17/2020 03:28:46 PM · #10
Originally posted by GeneralE:

I'm curious to see how first reducing the contrast and then increasing it later works -- any chance you could post and example sequence?


I'll explain briefly now and stick the other on my todo list. :-) I'll note up front that I shoot wildlife about 95% of the time, so my workflow has evolved in order to get the best details for that type of photography. For other types YMMV.

What I've learned over the years processing Raw files (this will not be the same for JPEGs) is that the Basic module works very differently from the Tone Curves module in Camera Raw when it comes to the way Highlights & Shadows work - and I'm guessing this has evolved over time within the product as well.

In the Basic module the Highlight and Shadow sliders function best not as boosters but as attenuators. In other words you want to use the Highlight slider to reveal the details potentially lost (but not blown out) in an exposure. The one thing you can never get back is light lost to the right of the histogram - white is white is white, and it's not coming back. So I under expose purposefully to make sure I get everything. When I raise the exposure level the brightest areas will eventually blow out in the image preview, but I know the details are there, so once the exposure is set correctly I back down the Highlights and TADA! all those details are back.

On the Shadow end, modern sensors have amazing dynamic range, so even when shooting at -0.7EV (typical for me) I know my camera has about 11 stops of detail, so I'll live with 10.3. LOL Once I have the top end of my exposure dialed in I will push up the shadows slider to reveal details that might otherwise be hidden in darker areas - like the underwing pattern of a backlit hawk in flight. The result at this point may look unnatural, but that's what Contrast is for. Sometimes the Contrast slider is enough to bring it back, but more times than not I'll apply some negative contrast as well just because it evens out the details.

When you move to the Curve section you again see Hightlights and Shadows along with Light and Dark. Each of these apply boosts or cuts to a range of light. Unlike the Basic section this is not raising or lowering the exposure value of a light range, it is boosting both the luminosity AND the saturation level of the light range. To get back/correct the contrast I will first move the Lights slider to the right making that range "pop". Once I find a spot that is pleasing (occasionally I have to got back to basic and pull back on the Highlights some more if details get lost) I work the Darks/Shadows slider to find a curve I like. In some cases I'll also boost the darks, pulling out additional details, and then pull back on Shadows.

These are all universal adjustments that get me 90-99% of the way there, but I will almost always dodge and burn after that, because what you want to see in your subject you may not want to see in the background.

I've promised someone else a video of my workflow but when I try to record the screen AND run Topaz processing times can increase 4-5x. But Camera Raw doesn't tax the CPU as much so maybe I'll do something tonight since a picture's worth 1000 words and a video is worth 1000 pictures. :)
08/17/2020 03:55:01 PM · #11
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

Originally posted by GeneralE:

I'm curious to see how first reducing the contrast and then increasing it later works -- any chance you could post and example sequence?


I'll explain briefly now and stick the other on my todo list. :-)

This is great -- thanks!

I probably can't replicate your technique exactly (hardware and software limitations), but it helps to understand what you're doing; I often have to deal with "fixing" underexposed JPEG images*. :-)

*Except for the reservoir and beach scenes, these were all taken from a moving train.
08/18/2020 01:45:14 AM · #12
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:



What I've learned over the years processing Raw files (this will not be the same for JPEGs) is that the Basic module works very differently from the Tone Curves module in Camera Raw when it comes to the way Highlights & Shadows work - and I'm guessing this has evolved over time within the product as well.

I am using Lightroom Classic but I think what you said applies equally as LR Develop module is the same as Camera Raw. I noticed the differences but your post explains why they are different, that's very useful.

What do you use for dodge and burn?
08/18/2020 06:08:42 AM · #13
Originally posted by marnet:


I am using Lightroom Classic but I think what you said applies equally as LR Develop module is the same as Camera Raw. I noticed the differences but your post explains why they are different, that's very useful.

What do you use for dodge and burn?


I use Lightroom Classic as well and used to do everything I'm now doing in the Develop module. The addition of Topaz Denoise AI to my process required I change my workflow. I could invoke Denoise from AI, save the result as a TIFF file, and then use the Develop module. But since I also use Photoshop I simply invoke the Camera Raw Filter in there. Lightroom Develop is Camera Raw in every detail, it's only recently that Adobe finally decided to make the interfaces nearly identical, changing Camera Raw to mirror Lightroom.

Several years ago I dove into using luminosity masks to process images and purchased Tony Kuyper's course which included his custom actios panel for Photoshop. I don't use luminosity masking much any more (only for landscapes) but I use a bunch of other actions on his panel. Two of them are for the creation of Dodge and Burn layers. The action simply produces in one click what can be done manually in 4 - and saves you from remembering what those things are.

Dodge - 1. Create new layer 2. Set blend mode to Overlay 3. Select Paint Brush tool 4. Set color to White

Burn - 1. Create new layer 2. Set blend mode to Soft Light 3. Select Paint Brush tool 4. Set color to Black

You then paint white or black into each layer to dodge and burn, generally with an opacity of 10-15%. I find it to be much more pleasing than using the Dodge and Burn tools, though I will occasionally use those to correct luminosity issues when I use Content Aware Fill to remove something.

If you're only Lightroom then you can use the brush tool and play with how you set Exposure, Highlights, and/or Shadows to do it, probably creating a new brush instance for each area so you can fine tune each section.
08/18/2020 06:36:55 AM · #14
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

...
Several years ago I dove into using luminosity masks to process images and purchased Tony Kuyper's course which included his custom actios panel for Photoshop. I don't use luminosity masking much any more (only for landscapes) but I use a bunch of other actions on his panel. Two of them are for the creation of Dodge and Burn layers. The action simply produces in one click what can be done manually in 4 - and saves you from remembering what those things are.

Dodge - 1. Create new layer 2. Set blend mode to Overlay 3. Select Paint Brush tool 4. Set color to White

Burn - 1. Create new layer 2. Set blend mode to Soft Light 3. Select Paint Brush tool 4. Set color to Black

You then paint white or black into each layer to dodge and burn, generally with an opacity of 10-15%. I find it to be much more pleasing than using the Dodge and Burn tools, though I will occasionally use those to correct luminosity issues when I use Content Aware Fill to remove something.

If you're only Lightroom then you can use the brush tool and play with how you set Exposure, Highlights, and/or Shadows to do it, probably creating a new brush instance for each area so you can fine tune each section.

Thanks, Jake, I have never really learned Photoshop nor dodging&burning, using luminosity masks sounds interesting. I use brushes in LR a lot but the only way to increase luminosity is to increase Exposure, there are no Curves available, maybe in the next version.
08/18/2020 10:32:23 AM · #15
Originally posted by marnet:

Thanks, Jake, I have never really learned Photoshop nor dodging&burning, using luminosity masks sounds interesting. I use brushes in LR a lot but the only way to increase luminosity is to increase Exposure, there are no Curves available, maybe in the next version.


With all the selective tools, including brush, the Contrast adjustment is a fixed curve adjustment, so you can play with the sliders and come up with something close as you brush.
08/18/2020 10:21:20 PM · #16
Not that I'm by any stretch either a great photographer or editor, but I have found over the years by being here, getting a lot of help from generous people, and a sh*t-ton of trial and error that I generally get what I want with some very minor adjustments in PS Elements.

If I can't get it done in three to five minutes in Elements, it was a crappy image and I move on.
08/19/2020 12:03:38 PM · #17
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

Not that I'm by any stretch either a great photographer or editor, but I have found over the years by being here, getting a lot of help from generous people, and a sh*t-ton of trial and error that I generally get what I want with some very minor adjustments in PS Elements.

If I can't get it done in three to five minutes in Elements, it was a crappy image and I move on.


Even the lighter weight photo editing tools are very powerful. I've enjoyed doing quick edits on my phone using LR mobile, and even the built in iOS editor.

Agree that if a picture doesn't look good after a few minutes, it might be time to move to another image! Occasionally I'll revisit an image from prior years and with new editing knowledge, take another run at it.

08/19/2020 12:33:20 PM · #18
Originally posted by mpeters:

Occasionally I'll revisit an image from prior years and with new editing knowledge, take another run at it.

I have found images I shot years ago that I never even took a pass at which make it apparent how much I've learned how to look at an image.
09/20/2020 05:10:33 AM · #19
Speaking as someone with no Adobe experience, your guide is good as you've mostly expressed your intent for each stage, which makes it translatable to other tools...

That is except for step 4. Vibrance.

Could you explain what effect you're aiming for here as it's not a term that I encounter using other tools, so an explanation of the intent would help to make it possible to find an equivalent elsewhere.

Kevin
09/20/2020 01:50:15 PM · #20
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:



The addition of Topaz Denoise AI to my process required I change my workflow. I could invoke Denoise from AI, save the result as a TIFF file, and then use the Develop module. But since I also use Photoshop I simply invoke the Camera Raw Filter in there.


Hi, Is that the "old" Topaz Denoise? Or is that from the Studio2 range?
09/20/2020 02:30:33 PM · #21
Originally posted by kasaba:

Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:



The addition of Topaz Denoise AI to my process required I change my workflow. I could invoke Denoise from AI, save the result as a TIFF file, and then use the Develop module. But since I also use Photoshop I simply invoke the Camera Raw Filter in there.


Hi, Is that the "old" Topaz Denoise? Or is that from the Studio2 range?


The new Denoise AI.
09/20/2020 04:23:35 PM · #22
Originally posted by paynekj:

Speaking as someone with no Adobe experience, your guide is good as you've mostly expressed your intent for each stage, which makes it translatable to other tools...

That is except for step 4. Vibrance.

Could you explain what effect you're aiming for here as it's not a term that I encounter using other tools, so an explanation of the intent would help to make it possible to find an equivalent elsewhere.

Kevin

Vibrance increases the intensity of colors without increasing their saturation. It's hard to describe. It's similar to what some other editors call "color contrast".
09/21/2020 06:50:09 AM · #23
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by paynekj:

Speaking as someone with no Adobe experience, your guide is good as you've mostly expressed your intent for each stage, which makes it translatable to other tools...

That is except for step 4. Vibrance.

Could you explain what effect you're aiming for here as it's not a term that I encounter using other tools, so an explanation of the intent would help to make it possible to find an equivalent elsewhere.

Kevin

Vibrance increases the intensity of colors without increasing their saturation. It's hard to describe. It's similar to what some other editors call "color contrast".


Saturation is a global adjustment. Think of Vibrance as an intelligent adjustment that targets the muted colors in an image and boosts them without increasing overall saturation (note - it needs to be used judiciously to balance colors or you can oversaturate the colors you are trying to bring out).
09/23/2020 01:04:50 AM · #24
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by paynekj:

Speaking as someone with no Adobe experience, your guide is good as you've mostly expressed your intent for each stage, which makes it translatable to other tools...

That is except for step 4. Vibrance.

Could you explain what effect you're aiming for here as it's not a term that I encounter using other tools, so an explanation of the intent would help to make it possible to find an equivalent elsewhere.

Kevin

Vibrance increases the intensity of colors without increasing their saturation. It's hard to describe. It's similar to what some other editors call "color contrast".


Saturation is a global adjustment. Think of Vibrance as an intelligent adjustment that targets the muted colors in an image and boosts them without increasing overall saturation (note - it needs to be used judiciously to balance colors or you can oversaturate the colors you are trying to bring out).


Thanks for that info Robert and Jake. I use the tool but didn't really understand what it was doing, except realizing that increased Vibrance complemented the overall color intensity, but not in a garish way. Presuming it was used with a light touch.
Pages:  
Current Server Time: 10/29/2020 03:14:39 PM

Please log in or register to post to the forums.


Home - Challenges - Community - League - Photos - Cameras - Lenses - Learn - Prints! - Help - Terms of Use - Privacy - Top ^
DPChallenge, and website content and design, Copyright © 2001-2020 Challenging Technologies, LLC.
All digital photo copyrights belong to the photographers and may not be used without permission.
Proudly hosted by Sargasso Networks. Current Server Time: 10/29/2020 03:14:39 PM EDT.