My post processing

Mus Aziz

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I thought I'd share the way I capture and post process my images, since I was asked by Bob bdbits in my recent Pic A Day. I believe Gary WestOkid asked the same a while back. So here goes. Just note that I'm no expert. Really.

To me, composition and light are essential to get good images. I try to compose at the taking stage, unless it's unavoidable (sometimes I can't access a particular viewpoint, or something gets in the way which is beyond my control). When it's unavoidable, I crop in post or on smaller "distractions", I clone out.

On "light", I know it sucks when after considerable travelling time, the light doesn't want to play ball. If it's not too bad (decent but not brilliant), I try to salvage by way of selective exposure/contrast/clarity tools in both Lightroom and Photoshop. I bought the Greg Benz's luminosity mask plug-in Lumienza, but have yet to play with it seriously.

After opening my image capture in Lightroom, I do the following:

1. Apply lens correction in the Develope module. In my case mostly Sigma 20mm Art. I sometimes manually correct for distortion.

2. Crop if necessary, whether to exclude something which distracts, or sometimes a particular aspect ratio feels right for an image. Not sure how to explain it, but if it looks pleasing to the eye, I'll crop. I'll do the cloning out of small distracting things in Photoshop usually.

3. Adjustments for exposure, contrast, clarity, highlights, shadows, etc using the graduated filter and brush tools.

4. Still in Lightroom, right click (two finger tap on my Mac track pad) and "Edit in Photoshop". Note, edit with Lightroom adjustments.

5. Image with Lightroom adjustments opens up in Photoshop.

6. I'll clean up the image (normally small things like sensor dirt, distracting bits, etc) with the Spot healing brush tool or Rubber stamp tool, etc.

7. I'll duplicate the layer (Command J).

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8. Now for the selective sharpening part. I normally use the high pass filter.

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Use Radius to determine the extent (amount) of sharpening. Click OK

9. Now blend the 2 layers. I used Vivid Light.
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Since this Vivid Light blending applies to the whole image, the next step is the clever bit where one can selectively apply the blending in terms of "where and how much."

10. Add a Layer Mask
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Click the icon as shown with the red arrow. You'll get the white mask, next to the high pass filter.

11. Invert this mask, Command I on Mac.
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The inverted mask is shown in the right arrow. Switch foreground to white (if it's not already so), left arrow.

12. Select the Brush tool or type B on the keyboard.
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The Opacity as shown by the red arrow will control how much of the Vivid Light blending will apply to any part of the image when you reveal the blending. Confused?

Since we are using the Brush tool, after selecting brush size (I use these [ and ] keys for brush size), and opacity, brush out the part of the image where you want the Vivid Light blending to be revealed.

In my image above, for the jetty, I chosed opacity at 70%, I brushed out the jetty to reveal the Vivid Light blend. The horizon gets a brush with 50% opacity.

The opacity slider above the layers panel controls the overall opacity of the high pass filter layer.

12. I save the full size file in TIFF, and merge the layers and save a smaller image size in Jpeg.

That's it really. Sometimes I use the Color Efex plug-in.
 
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bdbits

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Thanks for sharing Mus and company. I can see I have much to learn. I never cared much for LR, but maybe it is time I learned Photoshop.
 

AlwaysOnAuto

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This is WAY different from my work flow, seeing as I don't have PS or LR or any real sophisticated program for that matter.
Would it be asking a lot of you to post the same picture as it came out of your camera?
Seeing it that way would help me, for one, understand what all the changes you've made actually accomplished, besides producing a really nice image.
 

WestOkid

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This is WAY different from my work flow, seeing as I don't have PS or LR or any real sophisticated program for that matter.
Would it be asking a lot of you to post the same picture as it came out of your camera?
Seeing it that way would help me, for one, understand what all the changes you've made actually accomplished, besides producing a really nice image.
I know what your trying to understand, but unless someone shoots jpeg plus raw and actually tries to setup the camera or LR to produce good images out of the box, it won't be helpful.
One of the things I've learned regarding raw PP is that the key is to capture as much information as possible in the camera and use it later. When your goal is to produce straight out of camera it is the opposite. You actually throw away information in order to produce a pleasing image right away.

I can't speak for everyone else, but when I shoot raw and keep everything neutral in camera and turn off all the corrections and DRO. When this is done the quick snaps I take with my phone to help with compo loook better than what the camera is doing. It is really dull and lifeless and not representative of what the camera would have produced if I were a jpeg shooter or a raw shooter intent on a quick workflow. Even my LR settings are minimal other than the lens corrections. The reason is Adobe auto settings really suck IMO.

That said, If I wanted a quick workflow but still wanted benefits of raw, I would use Capture one or DXO. When I am the designated photographer at family events, that;s what I do. I use Capture 1. Unlike LR, Capture one's default auto settings produce great images. I just pump raw images and out come really nicely seasoned JPEGS.

So why not just use Capture 1 all the time? Well the library management is better in LR and the support for plug-ins is better. So if you think you may be going back and forth between applications, LR just works better.
 

AlwaysOnAuto

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Thanks Gary.
I am an SOOC shooter, but I do shoot RAW + jpeg, just because the camera(s) can, and well, you never know, maybe some day I'll get serious. :p
 

WestOkid

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Thanks Gary.
I am an SOOC shooter, but I do shoot RAW + jpeg, just because the camera(s) can, and well, you never know, maybe some day I'll get serious. :p
Also remember, that many times you will shoot differently if you know you will post process. For instance, I will look at my histogram and do ETTR (expose to the right) to ensure I maximize the sensor's dynamic range. this means the SOOC image will look over exposed. In my nightscapes, I will often underexposure to ensure I do not blow the bright city lights knowing I can bring the shadows back if I need too.

@robbie36 IMO is the best PP guy that frequents this site and he once showed the difference between what he captured and the end results. You'll notice the original is very dull because he knew what he was going to do with it. See below:
)

So here is the 'before'....
View attachment 73535

...followed by the 'after'.....
View attachment 73536

Link to Gif showing main editing steps...

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A7rii, 70-200 f4, 1/640, 97mm, iso100, f4
 

bdbits

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Interesting perspective on LR vs Capture 1. I used LR at version 4, I think it was. For me at the time, C1 defaults were quite a bit better yet there was plenty of edit capability, and a very flexible interface (even if it's not 'pretty'). DAM was not a big deal for me, but I did miss some Lightroom plug-ins I had. Now I am seeing what people do with Photoshop, and wonder if I made the right move. I still like C1 but if one is going to start using PS, the integration would be nice and you practically get two apps for what they charge for one. Hmm... Nothing as constant as change I guess.
 

Mus Aziz

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I know what your trying to understand, but unless someone shoots jpeg plus raw and actually tries to setup the camera or LR to produce good images out of the box, it won't be helpful.
One of the things I've learned regarding raw PP is that the key is to capture as much information as possible in the camera and use it later. When your goal is to produce straight out of camera it is the opposite. You actually throw away information in order to produce a pleasing image right away.

I can't speak for everyone else, but when I shoot raw and keep everything neutral in camera and turn off all the corrections and DRO. When this is done the quick snaps I take with my phone to help with compo loook better than what the camera is doing. It is really dull and lifeless and not representative of what the camera would have produced if I were a jpeg shooter or a raw shooter intent on a quick workflow. Even my LR settings are minimal other than the lens corrections. The reason is Adobe auto settings really suck IMO.
I couldn't agree more with you on this Gary. I shoot only RAW 99% of the time and try to capture as much information as possible. If there are significant highlights (with very high contrast) I tend to underexpose by a stop or two. I too turn off all corrections and DRO in camera. For what it's worth, here's my original capture, exported by Lightroom in Jpeg.

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Mus Aziz

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At the end of the day, LR, PS, Capture 1, et al, are just tools to achieve what I've "pre-visualized" in my head (can't help using that Ansel Adam's term, as I come from an analogue past and have always practised the Zone System in determining exposure). What I burn or dodge, mask or brush is what sets the image apart. It's a creative thing.
 

bobbill

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Muz Asis, much appreciated. I copied all...

Anyone do BW processing and care to explain here as well? I do 95% BW...
 

bobbill

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Okay, some really basic stuff...First I use ancient Adobe PS-6, jpeg work but figure RAW is better, so...what to do...I do almost all BW and have the NIC EFEX Silver, Silky and a DxO program. Need to convert or use RAW and PS version and editors no like, so I can use the Silky or NIC to convert and still work with the old PS software...which I know well enough to prefer it.

Basic...or worse. I think digital is far more complicated than wet work...MHO...but what ya gonna do? I have jillions of negs from 30s to now in all kinds of formats to scan also...

So i need simple for when the work hits the fan...figure to pick brains than learn by doing. Quicker and the doing comes into it anyway.
 

WNG

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Thanks Gary.
I am an SOOC shooter, but I do shoot RAW + jpeg, just because the camera(s) can, and well, you never know, maybe some day I'll get serious. :p
Definitely dip your toes into RAW processing. It's not as difficult to get started, but it can be an effort to master. As Gary stated, I also recommend you try Capture-One.
That's what I use and prefer for the same reasons given. It's quick out of the box.
The free Sony Express version has enough features to retrieve a lot of dynamic range and make your images pop. Their presets and styles also make easy work of sprucing up images. If you are just using JPEGs, you won't regret a download of Capture-One Sony Express.
 

bobbill

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Definitely dip your toes into RAW processing. It's not as difficult to get started, but it can be an effort to master. As Gary stated, I also recommend you try Capture-One.
That's what I use and prefer for the same reasons given. It's quick out of the box.
The free Sony Express version has enough features to retrieve a lot of dynamic range and make your images pop. Their presets and styles also make easy work of sprucing up images. If you are just using JPEGs, you won't regret a download of Capture-One Sony Express.
I finally was able to download Capture One have zero clue version, and just noticed I have NIC suite on system...will investigate both.
 

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