Processing YOUR Images

Photography starts with seeing something interesting. Then we capture it with our cameras and either preserve it as a personal memory or share it with others. Anything is fair game when it is a personal memory. Sharing images can be casual, but more often than not it is to make an impression on others, either as an artistic statement, or possibly in a competition.

Digital capture is pretty straight forward and today’s cameras do a pretty good job of making a good image. Moving a good image to something better is where craft enters and the end game is your personal art.
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Exposure for Digital Raw

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“If you expose digital the way you expose film, you run twin dangers of failing to exploit the camera’s dynamic range, and creating exposures whose shadows are noisier than they need to be.” – Adobe Whitepaper – Raw Capture, Linear Gamma and Exposure – Bruce Fraser.

Film was engineered to respond pretty much in the same way as we see, which made perfect sense at the time. While twice the light made the image brighter, it did not make the image twice as bright.
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Post Processing in Photoshop

Intermediate to Advanced Post processing in Photoshop

“Great artists don’t just happen, any more than writers, or singers, or other creators,” … “They have to be trained, and in the hard school of experience.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Digital photography has made making a decent image pretty easy. Using ACR or especially Lightroom allows you to render the basic color and contrast of an image very well. But, the primary purpose for which they were created was preliminary global adjustments. Global adjustments are those which address the overall image in terms of color and contrast, but do nothing to address specific issues in smaller local areas. Yes, many of the tools added to ACR and Lightroom were put there to make some of these modifications possible, but the real tool for image polishing is still Photoshop.

Many photographers are satisfied with what they can accomplish with basic raw processing. In some cases it is all that is needed. But the refinements to an image that can push it over the top still require more work. What we are finding when we shoot is the “raw” material (pun intentional) needed to produce a good photograph.

The good news is that Photoshop post processing is really not complicated. The bad news is that Photoshop post processing is really complicated. It is not complicated in terms of the mechanics, but it is complicated in that many of the processes are simply not intuitive. They need to be learned, and that learning is a curve that can be rather steep. That is experience. Like any craft, it requires time to get to know what can be done.

Like anything worth the effort you first need to learn to think in Photoshop. If you take piano lessons you learn scales first, you do not sit down and learn to play a complicated piece of music. In Photoshop you need to learn the scales too. Layers and masks are really not that difficult – the second time. Blend modes and other more exotic tools require more time, just like playing the piano with both hands. Some of the ways to use Photoshop tools, like making selections, are a never ending learning process.

The advantage of knowing how to use the tools and options in Photoshop is the ability to mold an image into something better than what the camera handed you. Some of the techniques are actually pretty simple to use, but first you need to know they are there. Blend modes are like that, and I guarantee you that I can show you in a very short time – like 15 minutes – ways to use them that you will love and use immediately in your processing workflow. Others require deeper thought to apply to your work, but you have to start somewhere. If you don’t know it is out there, you can’t use it.

I will give a presentation to the Hershey Camera Club on May 3rd. The primary topic will be selections, but any presentation in Photoshop always covers larger ground. No technique stands alone. The program is open to the public.

I will present a workshop/seminar on Intermediate to Advanced Photoshop Post Processing on Saturday, May 19th from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Hershey Library. Cost for the program is just $45. The program will include Layers and Masks, Curves, Selections, Blend Modes and much more. I will address controlling the image while avoiding bad practices. There are tools in Photoshop (eraser, burn, dodge) which are simply not worth using as they are not modifiable. Imagine being able to get better results without the pain of backing up in history.

Please email me if you wish to attend so I can inform the library and make appropriate plans for the seminar. Locals can sign up and pay in advance at the library. Learning Photoshop is an adventure, and I hope you will join the experience.

Exposure Relativity

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Exposure Relativity

Most photographers do not deal with exposure in a precise way. The camera’s built-in meter and auto exposure serve the purpose in many cases and the photographer is free to react to the scene. This is a positive thing in many circumstances as you need to react to the scene rather than fuss with the camera. Unfortunately, it can lead to less than optimal exposures a little fussing up front can lead to better captures and less post processing angst.
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Yearly Image Review

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Every year when the snow flies and the weather is just too cold for me I spend the time reviewing my images from the past year. I am looking at two things. The best. The worst.

Identifying the best makes you feel good. You have accomplished something worthwhile. It is a great confidence booster. You can pick any number of images you like, but try to refine the selections to those which really show your best work. The more refined you make the selection process, the more special each image becomes. Continue reading “Yearly Image Review”

Resolution

A good resolution for 2018 would be to understand resolution.

I encourage people to deal with images by their pixel dimensions rather than arbitrary definitions. For example, you may be asked for a high res file, but not given a size. You need a size and intended use for the image to make a decision.

1200×1800 pixels = 4×6 inches @ 300 ppi

1200×1800 pixels = 16.667×25 inches at 72 ppi

resolution

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