January 28, 2015

PPP {Post Processing Perfection} – Week 2

As photographers, we live in an age when we are afforded amazing technologies to take the most beautiful images. The cameras we own are better than they’ve ever been and the software available for editing these images lets us to translate our creative ideas into reality. However, there are times when our ambition exceeds our capabilities. Ideally, we want to get everything as close to right as possible in camera but there can be technical limitations or time constraints that just don’t allow that to happen. This new series of blog posts, PPP {Post Processing Perfection} will share some of my experiences taking good images and hopefully post processing them to be just that little better! While I obviously don’t advocate or encourage outrageous amounts of editing on all images, there’s always a photo that can use a little digital polish to take it to that next level and these fortnightly posts will show the process taken from start to finish on one particular image.

People that know me will attest that I am a firm believer in the availability of free education and knowledge to allow us to move ahead in life. I know that us photographers can sometimes be a little secretive about the way we do things and while I do have my own little tricks, there are things that I am happy to share and this is one of them. I don’t think that we should all take images that look the same nor do I think anyone should aspire to take images like mine but I do sincerely believe that inspiration is everywhere and we can find ideas wherever we may look. I hope this project gives you a few ideas and helps you in your adventures as a photographer. As always, I’m happy to help in whatever way I can so get in touch via the comments on this post or by emailing me if you have any other questions.

So before we start, a few technical points:
All images are shot in RAW on a Canon 5D Mk3
Edited in Lightroom, Photoshop
Additional colour processing and grain added using Alien Skin Exposure

Week 2 – Lindsey and Steve

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

This image was a particularly difficult one to take. I saw these beautiful clouds off in the distance but knew that if I was to expose Linds and Steve well in the image, I would have to push my camera to its absolute limits. I exposed for the shadows this time, to attempt to get something usable where Steve and Linds are without having too much noise in the shadows. Using the flashing highlights feature on my camera, I could also make sure that I didn’t blow out the sky, something which you might notice is a consistent theme from the last {ppp} feature! I’m a big advocate of shooting RAW and this is another example where I wouldn’t have been able to perform the same edit on a JPEG file

I must also say, this image is again a little more stylised and heavily edited than my usual images but I think that the end result justifies the means – this is one of my favourite images from last year. This image was taken with my favourite lens, the Canon 50mm f1.2L at 1/8000th and my favourite aperture f1.2. Now it might seem a little silly to shoot at f1.2 in the middle of the day with subjects that are so far away but the natural vignette of this lens is simply amazing and I felt it would really add to the image and draw your eyes into the centre where Linds and Steve would be.

Start off with the image in Lightroom

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Reduce the highlights to bring down the sky very slightly

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Reduce the exposure as far as I could to show the sky nicely

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Add a graduated filter from the bottom to lighten anything below the horizon

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Start selectively brightening Lindsey and Steve with the brush

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Reduce the saturation in this brightened area

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Keep brushing and refining the lightened area around Linds and Steve – you might notice my original adjustment is a little sloppy, especially around the back of Steve’s neck

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Reduce the purple saturation and luminance in HSL to reduce the purple fringing around Linds and Steve (one of the unfortunate side effects of shooting at f1.2)

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Increase the shadows again a little

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Slightly shift the orange hue to make the wheat just a little less orange

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Decrease the saturation of the yellow

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

A slight crop of the image to centre it

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Now it’s time to export into Photoshop to do a little cleaning up of the bushes covering Steve (in hindsight, I should have placed them in a slightly different position so I wouldn’t need to do this in post!)

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Bump up the contrast

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Make an adjustment layer to increase the brightness in the central area and then apply a radial gradient to the layer mask for brightening (I should have done this in Lightroom with the RAW file as well)

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

This one is very subtle but I created an adjustment layer and mask to reduce the cyan saturation and get rid of the fringing visible at the top of the bushes in the background

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

Now a little more contrast

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

The Finishing touch is an Alien Skin Exposure vintage Kodachrome preset, just for nicer colours.

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

This is the process from start to finish!

Post Processing and Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop to create the perfect image

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