Golden nugget PP tips

Messages
373
Name
Ciaran
Edit My Images
Yes
Hi everyone,
Hoping for a few real gems here ref post processing. At the minute I mostly use Lightroom, and adjust exposure (lights/darks), add a little contrast, clarity, dehaening, before finishing with a vignette. Rarely take pics across into Photoshop unless for cloning something out etc.
Whilst it works ok for me, I know that this is only scratching the surface, and wondered if you could share a few other simple processes that would really improve the overall final appearance of my photos? Everything will be very much appreciated, cheers folks!
 
Messages
5,246
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
Hi pal,

Might be worth putting up a couple of shots saying what changes you're thinking of.

PP has huge possibilities and different techniques between genres, so what I use for wildlife is probably very different to a portrait photographers workflow

Mike
 
Messages
16,648
Name
Toni
Edit My Images
No
As said, it really depends on what type (subject) of image you are editing and also what style or look you want from it.
Wot 'e said. ;)

My workflow in Lightroom (6) goes bottom up:

Transform first to get the image properly straight IF NECESSARY, usually done manually because that way I can adjust the crop later.

Lens corrections, always applying CA corrections (occasionally manually - some of my lenses have huge CA) & toggling between lens profile on & off.

Sharpening next, I usually adjust radius to 0.7 or 0.8 for less sharp lenses, 0.6 for sharper glass - this helps sharpness a lot, reducing visible over-sharpening. I normally keep sharpening down to 55 (APS-C) or 65 (FF) and use masking to prevent excess busyness in OOF areas. Normally stay away from luminance noise reduction unless noise is extreme, but do sometimes use colour noise reduction in high ISO images.

Tone curve - I often boost highlights between 7 and 13 to bring a little sparkle unless the image is over-exposed & highlights need holding back.

Basic area - if the land and sky are unbalanced then I'll usually pull the sky back and boost the land using gradients or masking brush. Adjust temperature & tint, then exposure, then highlights & shadows if needed, then contrast & clarity (because this affects the W&B points) then white & black point. Very occasionally I'll lift or reduce vibrance, tend to leave saturation alone or reduce it slightly.

Sometimes at this point I'll go into HSL & adjust individual colour chrominance, saturation & hue, but not often unless I'm really struggling to get realistic colours in the basic panel. Occasionally too I'll use split toning - good for shots where highlights are warm & shadows cool etc. I don't do mono conversions in Lightroom.

Other things:
Using older Nikon & sony lenses I found myself wanting more clarity to increase contrast, apparent sharpness & pop - this often resulted in images that were hard & unrealistic, & needed to be reigned back. I also found that colours were warmer with these lenses, & typical daylight would require 5200K and +15 to +35 magenta for a more-or-less balanced image. Images on APS-C especially didn't tolerate excess sharpening well, with edges looking false, and halos could be a big problem if an image was pushed too hard. I also found the highlights and shadow controls to be very powerful.

Using modern Sony gear I often reduce clarity to get a softer, smoother image, because the combination of lenses and sensor deliver much more contrast and edge detail than is required or even desirable. Colours are much cooler, and daylight balance often required 5800K to 6000K with +2 to +7 magenta. I can sharpen a very long way if needed without artifacts, but that's unusual. Highlight and shadow sliders have far less effect, and I sometimes have to use the tone curve or local adjustments to get the control I want. The Sony A7 files have a huge amount of shadow recovery available.

I use brushes quite a bit where I want localised adjustment. The automask function can be very helpful, but is far from foolproof, and can cause trouble if you don't check what's been masked (press 'O' to toggle mask colour on/off). Reduce flow if trying to feather masking, building up layers in areas you want more mask, just leaving a single pass at around 20% where you want less. Generally it's best to work with what's in the image already, rather than trying to fake it (skies especially can look fake if overworked).

That'll do for now. ;)

Examples?

Rolling off clarity and choosing sensible sharpening allowed me to keep these beach huts looking clean & un-fussy, rather than harshly warts-and-all.
Next year yellow by Toni Ertl, on Flickr

This was shot on a day with overcast skies and rain in the air. I used the masking brush to darken & cool the water, then lift shadows & warm the foliage & bridge. They already had the right ingredients, but the image just needed a little help.
Bowmans Bridge 3 by Toni Ertl, on Flickr

Hope that's useful.
 

sirch

Official Forum Numpty 2015
Messages
10,036
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
I've posted the proper Post Processing workflow on here before...
  1. Go to bed thinking "I'll get up early and catch the light"
  2. Get up late but determined
  3. Throw a random collection of bodies, lenses, batteries, cards, filters, ktichen sink etc. in a bag. Extra points for failing to check the various things are compatible and also for forgetting the waterproofs, gloves, flask, etc.
  4. Drive around randomly, occasionally stop and snap things that "might" work
  5. Get back home, rush to the computer
  6. Import, skim through and delete about 50%,
  7. Have a brew/do something else for a while and/or take an anti-hoarding pill
  8. Go back and delete most of the rest but not quite all because, well, nostalgia.
  9. Do some barrel bottom scraping to pick one that might be vaguely worthwhile
  10. Pretend that my awesome PP skills will recover a work of sublime photography from the selected pigs ear
  11. Process it until it looks like something produced by a five year old on acid
  12. Remember that my PP skills are really not very awesome
  13. Resolve that I will get it right in camera next time
  14. Have a bottle of wine whilst watching youtube vids on why I need better gear to help get it right in camera
  15. Repeat from step 1
 
Messages
16,648
Name
Toni
Edit My Images
No
I've posted the proper Post Processing workflow on here before...
  1. Go to bed thinking "I'll get up early and catch the light"
  2. Get up late but determined
  3. Throw a random collection of bodies, lenses, batteries, cards, filters, ktichen sink etc. in a bag. Extra points for failing to check the various things are compatible and also for forgetting the waterproofs, gloves, flask, etc.
  4. Drive around randomly, occasionally stop and snap things that "might" work
  5. Get back home, rush to the computer
  6. Import, skim through and delete about 50%,
  7. Have a brew/do something else for a while and/or take an anti-hoarding pill
  8. Go back and delete most of the rest but not quite all because, well, nostalgia.
  9. Do some barrel bottom scraping to pick one that might be vaguely worthwhile
  10. Pretend that my awesome PP skills will recover a work of sublime photography from the selected pigs ear
  11. Process it until it looks like something produced by a five year old on acid
  12. Remember that my PP skills are really not very awesome
  13. Resolve that I will get it right in camera next time
  14. Have a bottle of wine whilst watching youtube vids on why I need better gear to help get it right in camera
  15. Repeat from step 1
Soup cans work so much better. ;)
 
Messages
3,123
Name
Simon Everett
Edit My Images
Yes
I've posted the proper Post Processing workflow on here before...
  1. Go to bed thinking "I'll get up early and catch the light"
  2. Get up late but determined
  3. Throw a random collection of bodies, lenses, batteries, cards, filters, ktichen sink etc. in a bag. Extra points for failing to check the various things are compatible and also for forgetting the waterproofs, gloves, flask, etc.
  4. Drive around randomly, occasionally stop and snap things that "might" work
  5. Get back home, rush to the computer
  6. Import, skim through and delete about 50%,
  7. Have a brew/do something else for a while and/or take an anti-hoarding pill
  8. Go back and delete most of the rest but not quite all because, well, nostalgia.
  9. Do some barrel bottom scraping to pick one that might be vaguely worthwhile
  10. Pretend that my awesome PP skills will recover a work of sublime photography from the selected pigs ear
  11. Process it until it looks like something produced by a five year old on acid
  12. Remember that my PP skills are really not very awesome
  13. Resolve that I will get it right in camera next time
  14. Have a bottle of wine whilst watching youtube vids on why I need better gear to help get it right in camera
  15. Repeat from step 1

Some large corporations have made an industry out of your habits!
 
OP
M
Messages
373
Name
Ciaran
Edit My Images
Yes
I've posted the proper Post Processing workflow on here before...
  1. Go to bed thinking "I'll get up early and catch the light"
  2. Get up late but determined
  3. Throw a random collection of bodies, lenses, batteries, cards, filters, ktichen sink etc. in a bag. Extra points for failing to check the various things are compatible and also for forgetting the waterproofs, gloves, flask, etc.
  4. Drive around randomly, occasionally stop and snap things that "might" work
  5. Get back home, rush to the computer
  6. Import, skim through and delete about 50%,
  7. Have a brew/do something else for a while and/or take an anti-hoarding pill
  8. Go back and delete most of the rest but not quite all because, well, nostalgia.
  9. Do some barrel bottom scraping to pick one that might be vaguely worthwhile
  10. Pretend that my awesome PP skills will recover a work of sublime photography from the selected pigs ear
  11. Process it until it looks like something produced by a five year old on acid
  12. Remember that my PP skills are really not very awesome
  13. Resolve that I will get it right in camera next time
  14. Have a bottle of wine whilst watching youtube vids on why I need better gear to help get it right in camera
  15. Repeat from step 1
Sounds familiar, cheers
 
OP
M
Messages
373
Name
Ciaran
Edit My Images
Yes
Wot 'e said. ;)

My workflow in Lightroom (6) goes bottom up:

Transform first to get the image properly straight IF NECESSARY, usually done manually because that way I can adjust the crop later.

Lens corrections, always applying CA corrections (occasionally manually - some of my lenses have huge CA) & toggling between lens profile on & off.

Sharpening next, I usually adjust radius to 0.7 or 0.8 for less sharp lenses, 0.6 for sharper glass - this helps sharpness a lot, reducing visible over-sharpening. I normally keep sharpening down to 55 (APS-C) or 65 (FF) and use masking to prevent excess busyness in OOF areas. Normally stay away from luminance noise reduction unless noise is extreme, but do sometimes use colour noise reduction in high ISO images.

Tone curve - I often boost highlights between 7 and 13 to bring a little sparkle unless the image is over-exposed & highlights need holding back.

Basic area - if the land and sky are unbalanced then I'll usually pull the sky back and boost the land using gradients or masking brush. Adjust temperature & tint, then exposure, then highlights & shadows if needed, then contrast & clarity (because this affects the W&B points) then white & black point. Very occasionally I'll lift or reduce vibrance, tend to leave saturation alone or reduce it slightly.

Sometimes at this point I'll go into HSL & adjust individual colour chrominance, saturation & hue, but not often unless I'm really struggling to get realistic colours in the basic panel. Occasionally too I'll use split toning - good for shots where highlights are warm & shadows cool etc. I don't do mono conversions in Lightroom.

Other things:
Using older Nikon & sony lenses I found myself wanting more clarity to increase contrast, apparent sharpness & pop - this often resulted in images that were hard & unrealistic, & needed to be reigned back. I also found that colours were warmer with these lenses, & typical daylight would require 5200K and +15 to +35 magenta for a more-or-less balanced image. Images on APS-C especially didn't tolerate excess sharpening well, with edges looking false, and halos could be a big problem if an image was pushed too hard. I also found the highlights and shadow controls to be very powerful.

Using modern Sony gear I often reduce clarity to get a softer, smoother image, because the combination of lenses and sensor deliver much more contrast and edge detail than is required or even desirable. Colours are much cooler, and daylight balance often required 5800K to 6000K with +2 to +7 magenta. I can sharpen a very long way if needed without artifacts, but that's unusual. Highlight and shadow sliders have far less effect, and I sometimes have to use the tone curve or local adjustments to get the control I want. The Sony A7 files have a huge amount of shadow recovery available.

I use brushes quite a bit where I want localised adjustment. The automask function can be very helpful, but is far from foolproof, and can cause trouble if you don't check what's been masked (press 'O' to toggle mask colour on/off). Reduce flow if trying to feather masking, building up layers in areas you want more mask, just leaving a single pass at around 20% where you want less. Generally it's best to work with what's in the image already, rather than trying to fake it (skies especially can look fake if overworked).

That'll do for now. ;)

Examples?

Rolling off clarity and choosing sensible sharpening allowed me to keep these beach huts looking clean & un-fussy, rather than harshly warts-and-all.
Next year yellow by Toni Ertl, on Flickr

This was shot on a day with overcast skies and rain in the air. I used the masking brush to darken & cool the water, then lift shadows & warm the foliage & bridge. They already had the right ingredients, but the image just needed a little help.
Bowmans Bridge 3 by Toni Ertl, on Flickr

Hope that's useful.
Cheers
 
OP
M
Messages
373
Name
Ciaran
Edit My Images
Yes
Thanks so far everyone.
Was thinking of something different from normal workflow (maybe my original post was confusing).
For example,I had just recently discovered using photoshop actions to watermark multiple photos at once.
What small but priceless procedures have you stumbled across?
 
Messages
16,648
Name
Toni
Edit My Images
No
In that line, if I have a series of loosely similar images to edit then I'll do a base-line edit on the first (sharpness, highlights and shadows, colour temperature etc) then sync settings across all images so I only have to fine tune editing for each picture.
 
Messages
3
Name
Mick
Edit My Images
No
Fixing wonky horizons...Use the Ruler Tool to draw a line across all or part of your horizon. Then, select Image, Image Rotation, Arbitrary, OK.

It works with both vertical and horizontal lines.
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
Messages
36,179
Name
Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
Edit My Images
Yes
As little as possible, as much as necessary.
 
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