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Apr
17

How to Easily Watermark Your Images Using Lightroom

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

In this article, I’m going to show you just how easy it is to watermark your images using Lightroom.

With photography, it’s the simple things which often become the most important. Simple moments like the sun shining through that perfect wisp of cloud and plain objects shot with elementary techniques. Perhaps one of the simplest, and yet at the same time most important, additions you can make to your work is helping to protect it from unwanted uses while at the same time making sure people know who made your wonderful image.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Watermarks and logos (we’ll just use the term “watermark” for this article) help to keep your images from being used without your permission. Of course, nothing is bulletproof in the digital age but adding a watermark to your photos is one of the easiest ways you can impart a little security to your images before you send them out into the world.

Watermarks in Lightroom

Watermarks can be added to your images during the exportation process, but the watermarks you make and store in Lightroom are available anytime.

To access the watermark creation section dialog at any time in Lightroom, from your top menu bar go to Edit > Edit Watermarks (note: on Mac you need to go to Lightroom > Edit Watermarks).

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Once in the watermark creation dialog, you have quite a few options for constructing your watermarks. The two main choices will be whether to create a text watermark or to import a graphic from somewhere else on our computer.

I’ll begin by showing you how to make a simple text watermark (which I use) and then move onto importing a graphic.

How to Create a Text Watermark

Making a text-based watermark right in Lightroom is extraordinarily easy. Essentially, all you need to do is type in the box provided and place the watermark where you want it to appear on your image.

For our example, let’s type in a simple watermark. Make sure the “Text” option is selected as the Watermark Style at the top right of the window.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Next, choose what font, color, style, and orientation you would like to use for the text. The orientation is less of an issue because you will be moving the watermark yourself later.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

To shadow or not to shadow? This is just a drop-shadow to make the text appear more three-dimensional and I usually leave this option unchecked. If you choose to add a shadow, there will be some basic positioning and opacity options for you to adjust to suit your tastes.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Add a drop-shadow here.

Set the size

Now you will need to decide what size to make the watermark relative to your photo. Generally, keeping the watermark sized proportionately is best but you can also choose to “Fit” or “Fill” the text to the photo. Usually, the “Fill” option will be seldom used as it obnoxiously enlarges the watermark.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

The Fill option is a bit too in your face.

Position the watermark

The “Inset” sliders control how far inside the frame the watermark will be positioned. I’ve found this is best left until the end so we’ll adjust this later.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

The final set of options in the watermark dialog is the anchor point selection.

set the anchor points - How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Picture that center dot as being the middle of your photo. You can choose whichever location you prefer but I like to position my watermarks in the bottom right corner and also vertically orient them. Use the arrows to rotate your watermark.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Watermark rotated and placed in the lower right corner.

Before you save your new watermark, I want you to adjust the inset just a tad vertically to move it back from the edge of the image. This is where those inset sliders from earlier come into play.

Now is the time to make some final tweaks to the size and opacity of the watermark once it is fully positioned.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

To save this for use later (more on this shortly) simply click “Save” and give your freshly-minted watermark a name.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

How to Create a Graphic Watermark

You might not believe it, but using your own graphical watermark is just as easy as making its textual counterpart. To start, simply select the “Graphic” option at the top of the watermark dialog box.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Next, click “Choose…” and find the graphic you want to use on your computer. Keep in mind it will need to be either in a JPG or PNG file format.

For this tutorial, I made a quick 3D watermark in Photoshop. Once you’ve selected the file you want to use, Lightroom will do the rest. This is my graphic before it was nested into the image.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom - 3d graphic

And here it is after it has been placed and positioned. The text left in the box will have no effect since the Graphic Watermark option is selected.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

From here you have many of the same options for opacity, positioning, and sizing as you did for the text watermark. Saving the graphic watermark is done exactly the same way as you saved the text watermark as well.

How to Apply Your Watermark During Export

Now that you know how to create and save your watermarks in Lightroom, it’s time to stick them onto your images during export which is also super easy.

Open the Export dialog box by choosing File > Export. Near the very bottom of the dialog box in the right-hand box, you’ll see the Watermarking drop-down menu.

Select the watermark you would like to apply. In this case, add the graphical watermark you saved earlier.

How to Add Watermarks to Your Images Using Lightroom

Click export and your image will be exported with your watermark lovingly placed!

Final Thoughts on Making Watermarks in Lightroom

Watermarks are a great way to sign and protect your photographs. While there are no real rules for applying your watermarks, I would urge you to adhere to the “less is more” mentality. Do not plaster your watermark obtrusively over your images like most of the samples in this tutorial, which were done for demonstration purposes only.

Make your photo the center of attention with your watermark as more of an afterthought. That being said, feel free to experiment with your own creative watermarks. As you’ve just seen, they are incredibly easy to apply in Lightroom.

The post How to Easily Watermark Your Images Using Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
14

How to Simulate Venetian Blinds Lighting Using Photoshop

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

When you’re having a romantic dinner you light it with candles and not a bright reflector, right? That’s because light contributes to forming an atmosphere. When you’re making a photograph, measuring the right exposure is not the only thing that matters. Wouldn’t you agree that manipulating that light is what makes it or break it?

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to simulate light coming in through a window, so that your photo has a warmer ambiance.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial Intro

Getting started

In this case, we’re going to make the effect of sunlight passing through a window with Venetian blinds. This is why the first thing you need to do is delineate the spacing in between the blinds. To make this task easier you can turn on the rulers, just go to Menu > View > Rulers so you can make the spaces more evenly.

Make a new empty layer by going to Menu > Layer > New Layer. Then select the Rectangle Marquee Tool and start tracing. They don’t have to be perfect just try to keep more or less the same width and the same spacing in between. The amount is up to you, for this example, I’ll do 8.

NOTE: Hold the Shift key down to add multiple rectangular selections.

Marquee Selection Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial

Adding the light

Next, you need to fill the selections with white. You can either select the Paint Bucket Tool and click inside each of the rectangles, or you can go to Menu > Edit > Fill which will bring out a pop-up window. Just make sure the content is set to white and all the selected areas get colored at once when you click OK.

Edit Fill Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

This doesn’t look very realistic yet, but don’t worry, we’ll make it better. To start, you need to give it some perspective to make it fit your image. For this, you can go to Menu > Edit > Transform > Perspective. Find the real light source and make the light (the white bars) smaller on that side. Then turn it and drag it until it feels as if the strips are coming out from that source.

Free Transform Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Tweak the light beams

Once it fits you need to make the white bars look more like light beams by smoothing them using a blur filter. Go to Menu > Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

A pop-up window appears and you can set how blurred you want it by dragging the Radius slider. Make sure the preview option is checked so that you can see how your adjustment looks before you apply it. I’m leaving it at around 50 pixels but this is up to you. When you’re happy just click OK.

Gaussian Blur Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Then change the blending mode of the layer where your stripes are so that it integrates better with the background image. You can do this in the drop-down menu on top of the layers panel. Open it and select Soft Light blend mode.

SoftLigh Blend Mode Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial

Apply a gradient

It’s already looking much better, there’s just one final touch that needs to be done. Because the light will obviously be stronger closer to the source and slowly fade away; you need to apply a gradient to achieve this effect.

Add a Layer Mask by clicking on the button that looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle, located at the bottom of the layers panel. While the mask is selected, go to the Gradient Tool that is hidden behind the Paint Bucket Tool. Then from the top sub-menu, choose the one that goes from black to transparent.

Apply the gradient by dragging your mouse across your image. Follow the lines and make sure the white part of the gradient is at the end of the image where you want the light the brightest. If it’s not, you can just invert the layer mask, or undo it and try again.

Graded Layer Mask Venetian Blinds Through Window Light Photoshop Tutorial jpg

Finishing up

There you go, light passing through Venetian blinds from the window onto your subject without even needing a window!

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial After

Applying the effect to the background only

This, of course, works if your subject is lit by the same source as the background, but what happens if you have two different light sources? Let’s do an example where we want only the background to receive the light from the window and the subject will be lit by a different light source.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial Before2

Start by doing exactly the same as you did in the previous example. When you’re done with that you have to add one more step. Duplicate the subject that you want to be in front of the Venetian blinds lighting effect.

You do this by selecting the object. It doesn’t matter which tool you use. In this case, I used a combination of the Quick Selection tool refined later in the Quick Mask. Once you have your selection go to Menu > Layer > New > Layer via Copy. A new layer will be created duplicating the subject that you selected onto an empty background; drag this layer to the top.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial Duplicate Layer

That’s it, your subject will be in front of the lighting effect and therefore won’t be affected by it. Give it a try and show us your results in the comment section below.

Venetian Blinds Lighting Effect Photoshop Tutorial After2

The post How to Simulate Venetian Blinds Lighting Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
11

How to Add or Remove a Vignette Using Lightroom

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

You have likely seen photos on the internet which are well-exposed at the center, but the brightness starts reducing towards the edges. If you are not familiar with the name of this effect, it is called an edge vignette or image vignetting.

Interestingly, a vignette is an effect which occurs naturally but can also be achieved intentionally during the post-processing stage. Not everyone likes the vignetting effect in their photos, for some, it is a useful technique and for others, it is a disaster. Honestly, a well-done vignette can help draw viewer’s attention towards the subject placed in the center. You can use it to your benefit if you are a portrait, wildlife, or a wedding photographer.

How to Add or Remove a Vignette in Adobe Lightroom

But vignetting could also make your photos unappealing if you are a landscape, interior, or commercial photographer, as you would not want the edges of your photos to be too dark.

Causes of Vignetting

There are multiple reasons why the vignetting effect gets applied to your photos when using a digital camera. One of the main causes of vignetting is the use of wide aperture openings such as f/1.4 or f/1.8. But if you increase the aperture value by 2-3 stops, you can easily eliminate the vignetting effect in your photo.

Another cause of vignetting could be the use of a longer focal length, but as you go wider the effect starts getting less visible. Some low-end lenses are also more likely to have an edge vignette than their more expensive counterparts.

Using multiple lens filters or mounting low-quality lens filters can also result in strong vignetting, as they can block the amount of light entering through the lens from various angles. Did you know that even a third-party lens hood can result in a vignette? So make sure you buy the correct hood compatible with your lens to avoid any vignetting in your photos.

How to remove a Vignette using Lightroom

If your camera has captured a photo with the vignette effect due to one of the reasons mentioned above, you can easily remove it using Adobe Lightroom. This method is very impressive and the first time I used this feature in Lightroom I was happy with the fact that I can get rid of vignetting anytime I wish in the post-processing stage.

NOTE: You can use this technique of removing vignetting only if you are processing RAW files in Lightroom.

How to Add or Remove a Vignette in Adobe Lightroom

RAW file with a slight edge vignette captured in-camera.

How to Add or Remove a Vignette in Adobe Lightroom

Vignetting removed using “Enable Profile Corrections”.

As you can see in the screenshots above, the RAW format file had a hard vignette as this photo was shot using 50mm lens at f/1.8. In the second image, the vignetting has almost been removed with the help of one of the Adobe Lightroom’s handy features called “Enable Profile Corrections”.

This feature automatically detects the lens make, model, and profile, if it is available in the Adobe database. Lightroom has the lens profiles of almost every manufacturer, except for a few such as Samyang. This magical feature then corrects the vignette as well as distortion in your photo automatically. You can manually adjust them as well using the sliders. Isn’t that cool!?

To access this feature in Lightroom, you must be in the Develop module and the Enable Profile Corrections checkbox can be found under Lens Corrections tab on the right-hand side panel.

With just a click you can remove vignetting from your photo with Lightroom. Just make sure you are using the RAW format file only as this feature is not applicable for JPEGs.

How to add a Vignette with Lightroom

1) Using the Post-Crop Vignetting Feature

How to Add or Remove a Vignette in Adobe Lightroom

One of the easiest ways of adding a vignette to a photo is by using the Post-Crop Vignetting feature in Lightroom. You can find this tool located under the Effects drop-down menu. To keep it simple, you can start with moving the Amount slider towards the left (a negative number) in order to add the vignetting effect. Then you can adjust the Midpoint slider to define the spread of vignetting effect in the photo as per your desire.

The Roundness slider further allows you to define the shape of the vignette on the photo and the feather slider lets you define the falloff or how gradually it fades to the edges. The Highlights slider allows you to retain the highlights from the parts of the photo where you have applied the vignetting effect.

The only limitation of this approach is that you can not adjust the placement of the area where the vignetting effect starts. It only gets applied from the edges of the image moving towards the center (the vignette is centered).

2) Using the Radial Filter

How to Add or Remove a Vignette in Adobe Lightroom

The best thing about using the Radial Filter to add a vignette is that unlike the post-crop vignetting tool, you can change the position of the area where the effect gets applied. This means that you can select a particular area which remains unchanged as shown in the image above, and the vignette effect can be applied to the rest of the image.

As you can see in the image above, the Radial Filter tool gives you the freedom to play with much more diverse adjustments such as White Balance, Shadows, and Clarity. To start with you need to click and drag to select the area outside which you wish to apply the vignetting effect. Once that’s done you then can get started by adjusting the sliders.

Initially, you will have to bring down the exposure to darken the area selected, then you can play with the sliders to get the desired result.

Conclusion

Do you have any other alternatives for adding or removing vignettes in your images? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

The post How to Add or Remove a Vignette Using Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
10

How to Make Fake Shallow Depth of Field Using Photoshop

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Do you see your photo and wish the subject stood out a bit more? Does your photo look somewhat flat? Or maybe the background has people or objects that are unappealing? All of these can be fixed with one simple thing: a shallow depth of field.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to achieve this in post-production using Photoshop.

Fake Depth of field tutorial

Let’s start by clarifying that depth of field is the area of your photograph that is in focus, it’s also called focus range. There are three factors that affect your depth of field.

First is the aperture or f-number. The smaller the number, the smaller the focal range and vice versa, so f/5.6 will have a shallower depth of field than f/22. The second and third factors are very linked together; the focal length and the distance to the subject.

If you are using a telephoto lens and you can, therefore, stand farther from the subject you’ll have a shallower depth of field than standing closer with a wide-angle lens. You can learn more about this relationship and its effect on depth of field in my previous tutorial, How to Use Still-life Subjects to Understand Focal Lengths.

However, if you didn’t manage to set up these things when you were shooting, or you still need more (blur in the background) you can also fake the effect of shallow depth of field in post-production. Here are two techniques to do it using Photoshop.

Technique #1 – When the subject and the background are separated

Before Focus Range Fake Depth of Field Tutorial

Before image example.

With your image already opened in Photoshop, start by duplicating the layer by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer, then make the canvas bigger. You can do this by going to Menu > Image > Canvas Size.

It doesn’t matter the size of the canvas or the direction because you’ll be cropping it later. However, it’s important that there’s enough room for your main subject to be dragged into it on the next step.

Duplicate Layer Canvas Size Blur Background Tutorial

Then select your subject. It doesn’t have to be precise so you can simply use the Lasso tool and draw a selection around it. Now change to the Content-Aware Move tool which you’ll find hidden behind the Healing Brush on the tools panel. Next, drag your selection out of the image into the empty canvas size that you created before.

Content Aware Move Tool Blur Background Tutorial

Once you drag it out, Photoshop’s algorithm will fill the space you’re leaving empty with the information from the surrounding area. If you skip this step and blur the background with the subject still on it, the colors will spill out so it’s important that you do this part.

Drag Content Aware Move Tool Blur Background Tutorial

Now you can crop out the extra background, including the subject you dragged out and change the canvas back to its original size. Your background is now ready for you to blur it. Go to Menu > Filter > Blur > Field Blur. When the blur applies, a wheel appears in the center with a percentage on how strong the blur is. Adjust it to your liking.

Field Blur Filter Fake DepthofField Tutorial

With this blurred layer still selected, add a layer mask to it by clicking on the button that looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle on the bottom of the Layers Panel. Then paint on the mask with a black brush, over the subject you want to keep sharp from the original image.

Layer Mask Fake DepthofField Tutorial

The part that you painted black is now transparent so the layer beneath it, which is your original image will be visible. Finally just flatten your image and you’re done!

After Focus Range Fake Depth of Field Tutorial jpg

Technique #2 – When the objects are closer together

The technique you just learned is very useful if your subject is separated from the background, but what happens if you want a shallower depth of field because the objects are closer together? Or because it’s the same subject but you only want a part of it in focus?

In these cases, you need to create an effect that is graduated (fades from one end to the other). To do this here is another technique.

Before Shallow Depth of Field Tutorial

First of all, you need to duplicate the layer by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer like you did in the previous example, or use the shortcut by dragging the background layer into the Duplicate layer button on the bottom of the panel (or hit Ctrl/Cmd+J).

Then apply a Layer Mask to the new layer by clicking on the mask icon. Inside the mask, you will use the Gradient tool to mark where you want the sharp areas. In this case, I used the circular one but you can use a linear one or whichever is best for your image. I turned off the background layer so you see what I mean.

Grading Layer Mask Fake DepthofField Tutorial

Now go to Menu > Filters > Blur > Lens Blur and a new window will pop-up. Here you’ll see your image with the filter applied and a panel for adjustments on the right side.

Lens Blur Filter Fake Depth of Field Tutorial

It’s important that you set Layer Mask as the source, that way the gradient selection that you did before is what will determine how the filter gets applied.

Once you do that, the Blur Focal Distance slider will be enabled and you can start adjusting it to your liking. I also adjusted the radius and blade curvature, but you should move all the settings to get a feeling for the effects until you’re satisfied.

Finishing up

Hit OK to apply and flatten the image to finalize the result. That’s it!

Remember that every image will need a different treatment to look realistic because there are many things that determine the depth of field so keep experimenting and show us the results in the comments section.

The post How to Make Fake Shallow Depth of Field Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
4

Tips for Quick Photo Editing in the Field

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

In today’s world of fast and super fast consumption of everything, perhaps photography and photographers are an anomaly in that we obsess over editing and over-editing our photos until the cows come home (figuratively speaking of course)! But there are some situations where quick photo editing and speed are our friends.

For example, say you are traveling on an adventure of a lifetime but still want to keep your followers and/or your community engaged and up to date on all your adventures by way of images. Or if you have just come back from a client photoshoot and want to send some sneak peek images so that your clients get excited about what is to come in the next few weeks.

Albert Hall Jaipur India at Sunset with pigeons - Tips for Quick Photo Editing in the Field

A quick edit of an image as I was traveling around India for 10 days.

In situations like these, having a process to edit your photos quickly yet efficiently and on-point with your photographic aesthetics is key. Luckily there are a few elements that can be adjusted to achieve a clean edited look. These sliders are universal in that they are available with almost any editing software available be it Lightroom (as seen below), Photoshop, or even smartphone editing software like Snapseed and VSCO.

Follow along with this video

In the following video, I share some quick and easy editing tips for times when you are in a crunch.

One quick tip for a fast edit in the field is to start with an image that has good bones, to begin with. Essentially what this means is that you try to get the images as close to your vision for the final outcome, straight out of the camera.

So slow down and really think through elements like exposure, composition, tonality, etc., right as you are taking the image. This will definitely help speed up your editing even more.

Golden Gate Bridge with a pink hue at sunrise before editing straight out of camera -

A clean straight out of camera shot that was almost what I wanted to achieve.

Karthika Gupta Golden Gate Bridge with a pink hue at sunrise after a quick edit

A few minor adjustments to amplify the pink/orange hues for a quick edit.

Conclusion

I hope these editing tips were useful. Keep in mind, the whole point of this exercise is to make editing in the field easy and quick.

You can always come back and re-edit those images to perfection when you have the time to spend hours on a single image (we have likely all been guilty of doing that at some point or the other – it is called the photographer’s dilemma!!).

Do you have any other quick photo editing tips you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post Tips for Quick Photo Editing in the Field appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Apr
3

How to Get the Most from Lightroom Presets

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Where should I start when talking about Lightroom presets? The subject has been covered so many different ways by so many different writers that at times even I think there’s nothing left to say. Or is there?

Most of us already know that using presets in our photo editing workflow speeds up processing. I mean, who couldn’t use a little help now and again especially when you’re attempting to wade through six or seven hundred images from that last wedding where the groom couldn’t stop blinking.

Not only that, but perhaps my favorite part about using presets is the creative jumpstart they can give my work.

How to Get the Most from Lightroom Presets

Like I said, you already know all this, right? So instead of droning on about how to make presets or export them or download them, we’re going to discuss a seldom mentioned topic; how to get the most out of the presets you already have and use.

Designate Import Presets

Lightroom presets are surprisingly versatile and can be applied to some extent literally during every phase of your processing in Lightroom. One of the most underutilized applications for Develop Presets happens at the very first phase of editing, importing the image.

Any Develop Preset you might have in your processing treasure chest can be applied with the click of the mouse to each image you import.

Do you have a lot of photos from that Blinker wedding I mentioned earlier? Try making a preset that works exclusively for each sequence of photos. Do you find yourself using similar contrast or clarity all the time? Apply the appropriate preset upon import to save time later. It’s almost too easy not to do.

How to Get the Most from Lightroom Presets

And import presets aren’t limited to the just the develop variety either. Perhaps even more useful are metadata and keyword presets that can be applied at the same time. You can do that directly below the develop preset drop-down on the import screen.

Avoid Conflicting Presets

When I’m not off making photographs on some remote mountaintop you can generally find me sitting at the computer making presets. As the lead developer of presets for Contrastly.com I’ve single-handedly manufactured over 1,200 presets for Lightroom.

Even after making so many I still sometimes run into the hair-rippingly frustrating situation, when one of my presets overrides edits that I’ve already made to a photo. What usually causes this is when I forget to uncheck an edit box I didn’t adjust in the “Save Preset” window when saving my new preset.

How to Get the Most from Lightroom Presets

In order to save yourself a little grief, always – and I mean always – remember that when you make a new preset only save (check off) the edits you’ve actually made. NEVER (requisite shouting) leave a box checked even if the value is zero.

The reason for this is that even if an adjustment slider is set to zero checking the box will save that slider to zero in your preset. This means that if you have a preset that only affects the tone curve and you leave all the boxes checked all the other edits you’ve made will be reset to default by the Lightroom Preset. Sad times.

Don’t Stop at the Presets

Like I said earlier…I’ve made a lot of presets and I hope that they help people get the most out of their photos. Yet if there’s one thing that I sincerely hope my presets don’t do is become an endpoint.

Presets are a ladder. Don’t simply apply a preset and hope for the best. Most presets are intended to be post-processing workhorses and/or springboards for your creativity. In either case, don’t stop at the preset. Even though the stars sometimes align and a preset might hit the bullseye with a single click, don’t be afraid to change things around.

How to Get the Most from Lightroom Presets

As you test out presets feel free to update the settings or create a brand new mutant preset based on the edits you see before you. Some of my personal favorites the ones I’ve engineered to simulate expired film and vintage cinema.

Almost every time I narcissistically employ one of my own presets I find myself adjusting and tweaking until I have something completely new that I end up saving as a fresh preset. The process becomes cyclic. This is how great presets are born.

Final Reminders…

Lightroom presets are an old standby in the post-processing world. Oddly enough, not everyone uses them to their full potential. Making, saving or downloading Lightroom presets is only the first act in a great play.

Remember the value of import presets for speeding up your editing from the beginning. When making your own presets always remember to select only the aspects of the development that you’ve adjusted and not any zeroed out sliders. Don’t be afraid to change presets, especially the ones you’ve paid good money for, in order for them to better fit your own creative vision.

And most importantly, never allow yourself to simply stop at the presets…well, most of the time. Get the most out your presets by making them your own. Allow your presets do most of the heavy lifting if need be, while always following your own direction.

The post How to Get the Most from Lightroom Presets appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Mar
31

Five Common Portrait Retouching Mistakes to Avoid

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

When it comes to retouching portraits there are a number of mistakes that I see photographers make over and over. Part of the problem is that there are too many poorly made skin smoothing plugins. Another is that Photoshop gives you too many options for portrait retouching. There is a simple solution for this which I’ll mention at the end of the article.

In the meantime, let’s look at the most common portrait retouching mistakes photographers make so you can avoid them. Don’t feel too bad if you are making any of these errors. Consider it part of the learning process. You’ll learn to avoid these mistakes as your retouching skills improve.

Portrait retouching mistakes

1. Applying too much skin smoothing

This is a problem you see in commercial photography as well as in the work of hobbyist photographers. If you look closely at a typical cinema photo or a perfume advertisement you’ll see that the models and actors are often retouched to the point they are nearly unrecognizable. They certainly don’t look real or authentic. When this happens in the commercial world it’s little wonder that other photographers imitate what they see and make the same mistakes.

My advice is to consider whether skin smoothing is required in the first place and if it is to apply it with the lightest possible touch. Most photos of men don’t require skin smoothing. It’s conventional to apply some skin smoothing with most portraits of women, but it’s also important to retain skin texture to avoid the plastic skin look.

Portrait retouching mistakes

Two versions of the same portrait. The one on the left has had too much skin smoothing applied. The one on the right has less skin smoothing. You can still see skin texture and the result looks more natural.

The best way to apply skin smoothing that I know of is to use the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom with the Soften Skin preset (this preset comes with Lightroom and affects the Clarity and Sharpness sliders).

Portrait retouching mistakes

When you first apply the preset you’ll see that it’s very strong and as a result the effect is overdone. But you can get around that easily by clicking the black triangle above the Adjustment Brush sliders (below).

Portrait retouching mistakes

When you do so the sliders disappear and are replaced by a single Amount slider. You can set it anywhere from 100 (full effect) to zero (no effect). This lets you apply the skin smoothing effect with a light touch that retains skin texture.

Portrait retouching mistakes

2. Making the model’s eyes bigger

Amongst some photographers, it has become trendy to use Photoshop’s Liquify tool to make the model’s eyes bigger. The idea behind it is simple – large eyes are considered appealing, and enlarging a model’s eyes makes her more attractive.

Where this theory falls down is that most people are smart enough to recognize when this has been done, especially if they know the model personally. It results in an unnatural looking portrait that has lost any authenticity.

Portrait retouching mistakes

3. Making the model’s eyes too bright or too sharp

One of biggest advantages that software like Lightroom and Photoshop has given photographers is the ability to make highly accurate local adjustments. But it’s so easy to make the model’s eyes whiter, brighter or sharper that many photographers do so without thinking about whether or not it looks natural.

A better approach is to apply the effect subtly and zoom into 100% to check that it looks realistic. Go too far and you end up with a portrait where the model’s eyes attract attention for the wrong reason – they are over-processed rather than being the windows into the person’s soul.

portait retouching mistakes

4. Applying too much Clarity

Even professional photographers make this mistake. Recently I saw a friend’s wedding photos and my first thought was that the photographer had applied way too much Clarity, making her look older than she really is. Of course, I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to spoil her enjoyment of her big day or the wedding photos. But if the photographer had photographed my wedding I would have been very disappointed with the results.

Adding Clarity emphasizes skin texture, blemishes, and wrinkles. For this reason, it’s usually a bad idea to apply it to portraits of women. Normally you do the opposite and apply skin smoothing (which is a negative Clarity adjustment in Lightroom).

With men it’s different. You may want to apply Clarity in order to emphasize skin texture and make the model’s face appear more rugged. You have to judge it on a case by case basis as every portrait is different.

The key, once again, is to apply it subtly rather than with a heavy hand. Your processing technique shouldn’t draw attention to itself.

5. Over-sharpening

This is another big mistake that I see photographers make. Over sharpening can come from several sources. For example, if you use the JPEG format rather than Raw then remember that your camera sharpens the photo for you. Any sharpening you apply in post-processing is applied on top of an already sharpened photo.

If you use Raw there is very little need to set Sharpening to anything other than the default settings in your Raw converter. It’s rare that any additional sharpening is required on top of that. Remember that the effect of Sharpening is heightened if used in conjunction with applying Clarity.

The best approach to Sharpening is to use your software’s default settings and to never apply any additional Sharpening on top of that. If you do apply extra Sharpening, you need to zoom into your portrait to check the effect on the eyes and eyelashes, as this is where artifacts caused by over-sharpening are most likely to appear.

Note: Remember to use the mask feature of the sharpening tools in LR and ACR. That will help keep the sharpening to only edges and not smooth areas like skin or sky. 

Conclusion

Another aspect we haven’t discussed yet is to think about exactly what you want to achieve with your portrait processing. For example, you have probably guessed by now that I favor a natural, authentic approach to portraiture. That means using natural light, prime lenses, wide apertures and minimal processing. These techniques help me achieve the look I’m after.

Other photographers may be more commercially minded. If this is you, then a slightly more heavy-handed approach may be required. Even so, it’s wise to apply skin smoothing and other portrait retouching techniques subtly, rather than over-process your portraits.

At the beginning of the article, I mentioned a simple solution to the problem of over-processing portraits. The solution is this – use Lightroom. Don’t use Photoshop and don’t use a portrait retouching plugin.

There is no Liquify tool in Lightroom so you won’t be tempted to change the shape of a model’s eyes or face. There’s only one skin smoothing preset, so you should be able to avoid the temptation to over smooth the model’s skin. There is no high pass filter or other fancy sharpening techniques, so this should prevent you from over sharpening your portraits (be careful with the Clarity slider though!).

What are the most common portrait retouching mistakes you’ve seen or made yourself? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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The post Five Common Portrait Retouching Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Mar
29

Software Overview of the New ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

The world of photo editing is changing and as more people are picking up cameras to take photos, it also means those same people are looking to process them. ON1 is one of the leaders in that change. They have been developing their software for a few years and pride themselves on having the only editing program that has been designed by photographers for photographers – ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

Software Review - ON1 Photo Raw 2018.1 - sunset

A sunrise processed with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.

You may know ON1 as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. While it is still available as such, it also comes as a stand-alone product. You can purchase the program and use it on your computer without a subscription to Adobe to use the plugins. This makes it far more accessible to most people. You can also buy it outright, so there are no monthly payments and you have options to upgrade as it is updated over time. It is only available as a perpetual license.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is available for both Windows and Macs.

ON1 Community

There is a community around ON1 and if you love being a part of one then you are going to feel at home. They encourage you to tell them what you like about the software and what you don’t like. They like to listen to the ideas submitted and if they are feasible will implement them in future updates. The community can submit their feature requests through the ON1 Photo RAW Project.

There are tons of free training videos available to help you learn how to use ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1. The videos are not too long and are made so they are easy to follow.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

A macro flower image, processed with ON1 Photo Raw 2018.

Opening up

When you open up ON1 Photo RAW you will go straight to the Browse mode. This is where you will find your photos.

Layout

When ON1 opens you are automatically taken to the Browse Mode. From here you will find the folders and files for your images on the left. In the center are the images. On the right is all the metadata information about your images. You will also see on the far right all the different modules in which you can work.

If you want to see the image on its own, just click the tab key.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

By clicking the tab key all the windows around the image disappear so you can get a clearer view.

Browse

The Browse module is where you can view your photos and all your folders. There are four different ways of viewing your images.

  1. The first, which seems to be the default, is a set of thumbnails of which you can adjust the size.
  2. You can view just one image on its own without the distraction of the others.
  3. There is the filmstrip method, with your photo blown up and the thumbnails below.
  4. The last method is like the previous one, but you can click on more than one image using Ctrl/Cmd which allows you to compare them side by side.

While you can see all the images that are on your computer, you can also import photos from your camera, phone, or wherever they are currently stored. The Import function allows you to rename your photos, decide where they will go, and you can also opt to change the metadata at the same time.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - browse

The Browse section where you can view all your photos.

Develop

Once you have decided which image you want to work on you are ready for the Develop module.

Here you can make all your basic adjustments like exposure, highlights, and shadows. You can adjust the white balance and look at adding sharpening or noise reduction. There are quite a few options in this section.

If you go to the top of where the adjustments are located you will see a button called Show More. From there, you will see more adjustments that you can use. They appear as more panes underneath the default ones that are available when you go to Develop.

Above the Show More button are two tabs. The first is Overall settings, and the other is Local Adjustments.

The first one, Overall Settings, will make any changes to your entire image. On the other hand, Local Adjustments is there to make changes to only small sections of your image. The tools you can use to do this are on the left-side panel. There are two, an Adjustment Brush and a Gradient. With these, you can work on only parts of the image where you want the desired effect.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - develop

Working on your image in the Develop module.

Local adjustment tools

With the brush tool, you can make changes to the size of the brush, amount of feathering, opacity and other things from the menu along the top of the window.

You will also see another option there, the Perfect Brush, which allows you to make selections or correction to parts based on the color on which the cross-hairs of the brush is placed. If you keep the brush over the color or tones you want to adjust, then nothing else outside those tones will be affected. It is a great tool to use when you want to remove or replace a sky.

There are other tools in the Local Adjustments tab as well. You can crop your images here if need be. The crop tool also allows you to straighten any wonky horizons.

Retouching tools are also on that panel. These will allow you to remove sensor dust spots, which is very important. You can clone, heal and use the content-aware Perfect Eraser with them as well. There are a lot of choices.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - split toning

Adding a split tone to the image in the Develop area.

Effects

In the Effects module, you have even more adjustments, though they are referred to as filters here (some of the most popular include Dynamic Contrast, Textures, Borders, Lens Blur, Skin Retouching, etc.). You can add as many as you like and then stack them on top of each over. The effect will be applied to the whole image, however, you can add a mask so it will be more local to the areas of your image that you want to affect.

You will notice in the panel on the left that there are more tools available, including two that are very important.

There is another brush tool, along with a gradient and they both have masks attached. As soon as you start working on the image with one of them a mask is created automatically. This is valuable because it means you can fix what you are trying to do if you make a mistake. Masks are a great way to work non-destructively.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - effects

Looking at the filters and presets you can add in the Effects module.

Layers

When you get to the Layers module, you can start using the workspace which is designed to be easy and help take your photos further. It is here that you can start editing your photos. It also gives you more choices so if you want you can add layers, or start compositing. You can also do specific edits to particular layers.

One thing that is amazing in this section is replacing skies. Using the masking brush you can switch it to the Perfect Brush so you select just the sky, then reveal the image underneath. To help with the edges of the subjects you can switch to the masking refine tool, or the chisel masking one. They work really well together to help you get clearer edges.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - Layers

Working in Layers doing a sky replacement.

If you look at the menu on the left near the tool panels you will see a section called Files. From here you can add extra images if you want. It is a great place to choose a new sky or find textures to add to your image. It even comes with a collection of skies you can use on your photos.

Once you make that selection you can also blend the images or layers. There are many different blending modes. You can try them all out to see which ones will work for your image.

You do have to be prepared to take layers back into Effects or Develop to make adjustments or add filters to them to get the desired results that you are after.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - replace sky

Looking at the different options for replacing the sky and applying it.

Resize

As the name states, it is where you can resize your images, though ON1 has packed it with far more. You can crop, level, sharpen, add film grain, add gallery wrap wings for canvases, plus many more things. It is a great place to finish off your images ready for printing.

There are also a lot of resizing presets that you can use to help you get the printed results and size that you are looking for.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - resize

Resizing an image ready for posting on the web.

Presets

In Develop and Effects, you will find a series of presets you can use to enhance your image. Unlike other programs you have options with them and can adjust them to suit the purpose of your image. You can also add a mask so that it is only applied to part of the image.

If you do your own enhancements and think you will want to use the same settings again then you can also save them as a preset. You can use the filters in Effects to get the image you want, then make a preset that can then be applied to your other images. This is really good if you like all your images to have a similar look and feel.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - presets

Adding presets and layers in Effects.

ON1 Photo for Mobile

There is also an app available for your phone, so you can process your images there. The advantage of this app is that you can send your photos straight to social media. Most of us do not like images straight from the camera and like to be able to edit them in some way.

The downside to this app is that it is only available for iPhones, so if you have an Android, you can’t use it. Unfortunately, I have a Samsung (Android) phone, so, therefore, have no idea how the app works. Though I am sure it is good if it is anything like the Desktop program.

Some of the improvements that have been made

With every new version that is released, there are always new features or some of the old ones are improved. Let’s look at what you will find with the latest release of Photo Raw 2018.1.

HDR

Doing High Dynamic Range (HDR) images in ON1 is incredibly easy and the results are fantastic. Aligning the images, along with deghosting have all been improved to help you get the best image. You are now able to mark which frame you want to use to help with the deghosting process, as well as decide how much movement you get with motion instead of the program doing it for you.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - HDR

An HDR image that was done with ON1 and then processed further.

Catalog

If you’ve used an older version of ON1 Photo RAW, when you go to Browse mode, you should notice how much faster it is to look through your images in this new updated version. You don’t have to wait for eons while your photos all load. As soon as the folder is open you can view the images. They have improved the catalog searching tool as well so it also loads faster.

Noise Reduction and Sharpening

You can now sharpen your images to enhance the details on a micro level that will give you better results.

With so much people doing long exposure photography, one of the major problems is hot pixels. ON1 Photo RAW 2018 now will remove them automatically, along with the ability to remove high levels of noise from your images which all make your workload easier.

Chromatic Aberrations are caused by your lens and there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent them. But ON1 has worked on improving how to get rid of them, which is now much easier in this updated version of the software.

Panoramic Images

Many people like to do panoramas and you will find that ON1 has improved this feature so it will stitch your vertical images together far better. You can stitch together over 25 images at once. You also don’t need to worry about different exposures as it will compensate for them.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - HDR

A composite of two images where the sky was replaced.

New Features

With the latest release, some features were also added.

Import

If you choose to use the import function you can decide where those images will go on your computer. As they are importing you can also assign metadata that you think is important, like copyright information.

Soft Proofing

The ability to soft proof has been added so you can simulate what your image will look like when it is printed. It should stop the surprises that you get sometimes when an image comes back from your printer.

Batch Renaming

While a lot of people don’t worry about this, it is a great feature if you have to send a bunch of photos somewhere. The ability to select the images and then rename them all at once is a fantastic feature that has been added to ON1 Photo RAW 2018.

Edit Capture Date

This was added so if you want to change the date and time that a photo was taken you can do so. This is a good feature if you’re like me and are too lazy (or you forget) to change the time and date on your camera when you are traveling. You can now fix it with ON1 Photo RAW.

Auto Advance

When you are going through your photos picking your faves, once you have culled one image the program will automatically move to the next image. This makes moving through them much faster.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

The final image of the cloudy sky.

More information

When you purchase ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 it also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with it, no questions asked. Though if you want to try it out first you can use the full program for a free 30-day trial. It doesn’t stamp a watermark on your images making them ineligible to use, so it’s fully functional.

Software Review - ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 - b/w

Converting an image to black and white.

Overall

ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 is a good alternative for you if you wish to edit your photos, but don’t want to be locked into a subscription.

It is also suitable if you want to learn about image processing as the community that surrounds ON1 is welcoming. There is a lot of help available if you are just learning. In some ways, it is perfect for beginners, but also for others who want to get the best possible images they can.

Disclaimer: ON1 is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Software Overview of the New ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Mar
27

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

While your in-camera technique is most important, the ability to post-process your landscape images also plays a role in your final product. Each photographer approaches the digital darkroom in their own way. Here are some post-processing workflow tips for your landscape photography.

You don’t need to apply each step. It serves simply as a guide to help you get started.

1. Check your White Balance  or Color Temperature

If you shot your images in RAW, you retain the ability to change the White Balance after the fact. You can adjust the color temperature of your scene to make it either warmer (more yellow) or cooler (more blues).

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

Shot with Auto White Balance (AWB temperature 5800K).

Sunsets are often enhanced more to the warmer side, while winter scenes can benefit from both warm and cool tones, depending on what you are trying to depict. The temperature sliders can also be used to remove or correct any color casts captured in your original frame.

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

The same image with the temperature adjusted to 6700K to enhance the warmth of the sunset.

2. Expose it!

Check your exposure and fix it if it is too bright or too dark. Most people eyeball this process, but the histogram is a very useful tool for achieving your best exposure. The left side of the histogram represents the blacks or shadow areas of your image. The right side represents the brighter areas or highlights.

If you forget these basics, push your sliders to either extreme and look at how the image and corresponding histogram responds to these changes.

3. Chop Chop

With landscape photography, a good composition is key. Thus getting it right in camera is the best way to maximize your scene. You can apply rule of thirds/golden spiral, leading lines and a foreground interest optimally at this point.

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

Original Image

Some photographers shoot with a specific crop in mind, so many times there is a “picture in picture”. If your end result is a square crop, then compose and shoot for your final vision. This is also applicable if you need to print your final image to a different ratio.

Applying your crop early on in the post-processing workflow can alter the next steps you apply. So work out your composition and then continue processing.

4. Clarify This

Clarity is an adjustment available in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom. When you adjust the Clarity, you are working with the contrasts (edge contrast) in the mid-tones of your image.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Image prior to clarity adjustment.

This change makes your image look sharper, so you do not want it overdone.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

The subtle changes of Clarity adjusts the mid-tones and apparent sharpness.

5. Shadow Me

Adjusting the shadows can either deepen the darker areas or lift them to retrieve some details. If you are recovering details, be aware of the appearance of noise in the shadows. You need to stop before reaching this point.

6. The Highlights

When you are shooting, an important concern is to retain details in the brightest parts (highlights) of your image. If you have heard the terms “blown out” or “clipped” highlights, they refer to those bright areas that have no detail.

If you are working with a RAW image, you can recover much of your overexposed highlights using the highlight slider. Of note, while recovering these highlights, pay attention to the overall look of the rest of the image.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Beach image unedited.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Beach image edited to adjust the Clarity, Shadows, and Highlights.

7. Whites/Blacks

In the simplest terms, the Whites slider adjusts image pixels that are white or have a partial highlight. The Blacks slider adjusts image pixels that are black. The Shadow slider, mentioned previously, covers a smaller range of dark pixels than the Blacks. Similarly, when comparing Highlights to Whites, the White adjustment (like the Black) is more global.

A reason to adjust the Whites/Blacks after the Highlights/Shadows sliders is because of the way they (whites/blacks) affect the overall tone of the image.

8. Saturation/Vibrance

Most people get confused with saturation versus vibrance. Saturation affects all your pixels, making them all either more colorful (saturated) or less colorful (desaturated).

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Saturation adjusts all the colors in the image.

Vibrance, on the other hand, makes adjustments to the pixels that are not as saturated. This means it makes dull colors more vibrant and leaves already vibrant colors unaffected.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Vibrance adjusts less saturated colors only.

Bonus Tip: The Vibrance slider is used a lot to adjust images with people because it does not affect flesh tone colors!

9. Sharpen Up!

Sharpening increases the contrast between your bright and dark areas. In most post-processing workflows, it is done at or close to the end. This is because many other processes in your workflow, alter the “sharpness” of your image. Thus sharpening may be optional (or selective) when following those steps.

Read this for more on sharpening images: How to Make Your Photos Shine Using Clarity, Sharpening, and Dehaze in Lightroom

10. Vignette

A vignette is when there is light fall-off towards the edge of your image. This is often seen in images shot with wide open apertures or with wide angle lenses. They can also be caused or strengthened by the use of camera additions such as filter holders, lens hoods, or filters. These cause less light to reach the edges of the image than the center.

If you do not get vignettes when shooting, you can add them during your post-processing stage. It is not a necessity, but works well when you want to draw the viewer’s eyes away from distractions in the corners and more towards the middle of the frame.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Vignette added to draw attention to the sunset and keep your eyes away from highlights at the top of the frame.

In landscape photography, you can either remove natural vignettes, so the viewer’s eyes move around the image or you can add a vignette to draw them in. It all depends on your final objective.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Conclusion

Developing a post-processing workflow for your images is a great step towards your final output. Keep in mind that less is more and that subtle changes can go a long way to enhance your already beautiful capture.

You do not need to edit every image the same way; take a minute and review each one and determine what it needs to take it to the next level.

The post Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Mar
27

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

While your in-camera technique is most important, the ability to post-process your landscape images also plays a role in your final product. Each photographer approaches the digital darkroom in their own way. Here are some post-processing workflow tips for your landscape photography.

You don’t need to apply each step. It serves simply as a guide to help you get started.

1. Check your White Balance  or Color Temperature

If you shot your images in RAW, you retain the ability to change the White Balance after the fact. You can adjust the color temperature of your scene to make it either warmer (more yellow) or cooler (more blues).

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

Shot with Auto White Balance (AWB temperature 5800K).

Sunsets are often enhanced more to the warmer side, while winter scenes can benefit from both warm and cool tones, depending on what you are trying to depict. The temperature sliders can also be used to remove or correct any color casts captured in your original frame.

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

The same image with the temperature adjusted to 6700K to enhance the warmth of the sunset.

2. Expose it!

Check your exposure and fix it if it is too bright or too dark. Most people eyeball this process, but the histogram is a very useful tool for achieving your best exposure. The left side of the histogram represents the blacks or shadow areas of your image. The right side represents the brighter areas or highlights.

If you forget these basics, push your sliders to either extreme and look at how the image and corresponding histogram responds to these changes.

3. Chop Chop

With landscape photography, a good composition is key. Thus getting it right in camera is the best way to maximize your scene. You can apply rule of thirds/golden spiral, leading lines and a foreground interest optimally at this point.

Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography

Original Image

Some photographers shoot with a specific crop in mind, so many times there is a “picture in picture”. If your end result is a square crop, then compose and shoot for your final vision. This is also applicable if you need to print your final image to a different ratio.

Applying your crop early on in the post-processing workflow can alter the next steps you apply. So work out your composition and then continue processing.

4. Clarify This

Clarity is an adjustment available in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom. When you adjust the Clarity, you are working with the contrasts (edge contrast) in the mid-tones of your image.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Image prior to clarity adjustment.

This change makes your image look sharper, so you do not want it overdone.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

The subtle changes of Clarity adjusts the mid-tones and apparent sharpness.

5. Shadow Me

Adjusting the shadows can either deepen the darker areas or lift them to retrieve some details. If you are recovering details, be aware of the appearance of noise in the shadows. You need to stop before reaching this point.

6. The Highlights

When you are shooting, an important concern is to retain details in the brightest parts (highlights) of your image. If you have heard the terms “blown out” or “clipped” highlights, they refer to those bright areas that have no detail.

If you are working with a RAW image, you can recover much of your overexposed highlights using the highlight slider. Of note, while recovering these highlights, pay attention to the overall look of the rest of the image.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Beach image unedited.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Beach image edited to adjust the Clarity, Shadows, and Highlights.

7. Whites/Blacks

In the simplest terms, the Whites slider adjusts image pixels that are white or have a partial highlight. The Blacks slider adjusts image pixels that are black. The Shadow slider, mentioned previously, covers a smaller range of dark pixels than the Blacks. Similarly, when comparing Highlights to Whites, the White adjustment (like the Black) is more global.

A reason to adjust the Whites/Blacks after the Highlights/Shadows sliders is because of the way they (whites/blacks) affect the overall tone of the image.

8. Saturation/Vibrance

Most people get confused with saturation versus vibrance. Saturation affects all your pixels, making them all either more colorful (saturated) or less colorful (desaturated).

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Saturation adjusts all the colors in the image.

Vibrance, on the other hand, makes adjustments to the pixels that are not as saturated. This means it makes dull colors more vibrant and leaves already vibrant colors unaffected.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Vibrance adjusts less saturated colors only.

Bonus Tip: The Vibrance slider is used a lot to adjust images with people because it does not affect flesh tone colors!

9. Sharpen Up!

Sharpening increases the contrast between your bright and dark areas. In most post-processing workflows, it is done at or close to the end. This is because many other processes in your workflow, alter the “sharpness” of your image. Thus sharpening may be optional (or selective) when following those steps.

Read this for more on sharpening images: How to Make Your Photos Shine Using Clarity, Sharpening, and Dehaze in Lightroom

10. Vignette

A vignette is when there is light fall-off towards the edge of your image. This is often seen in images shot with wide open apertures or with wide angle lenses. They can also be caused or strengthened by the use of camera additions such as filter holders, lens hoods, or filters. These cause less light to reach the edges of the image than the center.

If you do not get vignettes when shooting, you can add them during your post-processing stage. It is not a necessity, but works well when you want to draw the viewer’s eyes away from distractions in the corners and more towards the middle of the frame.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Vignette added to draw attention to the sunset and keep your eyes away from highlights at the top of the frame.

In landscape photography, you can either remove natural vignettes, so the viewer’s eyes move around the image or you can add a vignette to draw them in. It all depends on your final objective.

Post-Processing Workflow for Landscape Photography

Conclusion

Developing a post-processing workflow for your images is a great step towards your final output. Keep in mind that less is more and that subtle changes can go a long way to enhance your already beautiful capture.

You do not need to edit every image the same way; take a minute and review each one and determine what it needs to take it to the next level.

The post Post-Processing Workflow Tips for Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.