February 26, 2015

PPP {Post Processing Perfection} – Week 3

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 3 – Annie and Tim

The portraits that I took at Annie and Tim’s wedding were taken in the middle of the day. This obviously makes things a little challenging as the light is so hard and directional leading to harsh shadows and squinting people! As such, a bit of abstract thinking was required to make use of the light I had. I’d taken a few nice images of them in shady areas (seriously, check out their wedding, it’s stunning) however we were starting to run out of options – hence this somewhat abstract silhouette image. It’s a little underexposed as I didn’t want to blow out and of the details in the foliage of the tree. Also, I could have had the ocean in the background in this image as well but considering the horizon cuts off Annie and Tim’s legs in the shot, a total silhouette wasn’t possible and why the image is cropped the way that it is. It’s so easy to deconstruct images *after* you’ve taken them but with a little creativity, you can still have a pretty cool image!

Camera settings: 1/4000th, f/3.2, ISO 50 on Canon 50mm f1.2L

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

Image Straight Out of Camera (SOOC)

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

Apply my import colour preset in Lightroom

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

Lens correction to remove distortion and straighten horizon

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

Crop to remove highlights at the bottom of the frame

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

Reduce blue saturation – when you underexpose the sky, it comes out much darker and more blue than it actually is.

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

Crop again to remove the ocean from the image

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

Spot removal tool to get rid of branches above Tim and Annie’s head

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

Add graduated filter and increase brightness of shadows and intensity of highlights in the tree. Make white balance of adjustment gradient warmer and decrease saturation slightly

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

Increase vignette scale to 200 to brighten corners slightly

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

Shift the yellow hue towards green

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

Selectively brighten parts of tree

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

Decrease highlights in selectively brightened area (very subtle – you might not notice this until the final animation)

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

Recrop again as I’m still not happy!

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

Clone blue sky into the bottom left hand corner

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

Slightly darken Tim and Annie to create a perfect silhouette

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

Process with Alien Skin Exposure for grain and subtle contrast/colour adjustment

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

This is the process from start to finish (this is a 5.3MB image so please be patient)

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

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    2 Comments

  • Lakshal March 11, 2015

    Hi Caylee!
    Thanks for your comment! And as I said, not every photo needs this much editing, and this one is a little more abstract than usual. It’s just an idea on something you might be able to do during times of harsh lighting.

    But as much as possible, try and convince the couples you’re shooting for to have a little time later in the day for photographs when the light isn’t as hard. Generally it’s not an issue in Spring and Autumn but in mid-summer, even at 6pm, the light is still quite difficult to work with so it’s just about being as organised as possible. :)

    Good luck! :)

  • caylee March 11, 2015

    Thankyou for this, I’m not really a big editor my self but it’s good to know some tips on working with harsh light, getting into wedding photography will be interesting, since everyone generally will be wanting to be photographed in the middle of the day.

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