Tag Archives: post-processing

Are You a Photoshop Pirate?

Yarrrr!!!
Creative Commons License photo credit: turbojoe

In the last poll, I asked “What Photo Editing Software Do You Use?” About 40% of you said Photoshop and another 30% said Lightroom. These are both expensive pieces of software to own and keep up with, and reader Steve Crane was wondering how many of the Photoshop users were actually purchasing the software.

So this week, let’s see if we can be honest with our voting and find out what percentage of Photoshop and Lightroom users are pirates. Seriously, answer honestly — I’m not going to track you down and report you to the authorities. I have better things to do with my time. But I am really curious to see the results of this one.

I’ve got four different polls below, and you can vote on all of them if you’d like. If the polls start giving you problems, just reload the page and you should be good to go.

{democracy:38}
{democracy:39}
{democracy:40}
{democracy:41}

Remember, answer honestly for the sake of the poll!

What Photo Editing Software Do You Use?

I ran this same poll a while back, so it’s probably due for another round. I like to know what you folks are using because I tend to get carried away with my own preferences. For the poll this week, vote for your MAIN photo editing software. I know many of you probably use a combination of things like Lightroom and Photoshop, but try to vote for whatever you use most often. And for the purpose of the poll, don’t worry about which version of the software you’re using — you can leave that information in the comments if you’d like.

What Photo Editing Software Do You Use?

And Wow! Definitely check out the results from last week’s poll titled “What Camera Mode Do You Use?” We had nearly 460 votes on that one, which is the most votes any of the polls have had. Out of all those people, it turns out that around 50% shoot in “Aperture Priority”, while another 25% shoot in “Fully Manual” mode. Check out the poll results to see where the rest of the votes landed.

Use Photoshop Actions To Save Time

Do you have some sequence of edits, mouse clicks, or keystrokes that you find yourself doing on a repeated basis, day in and day out? I certainly do. One of my most repeated pieces of Photoshop work is saving something down for Flickr.

First I have to flatten all the layers. Then I size it down to 800 pixels on the longest dimension. Then I convert to sRGB color space. Then switch over to 8-bits. Then, finally, I can save it to a “Flickr” folder on my desktop for uploading. Oh, and then I have to close the file. This is painful if I have even more than one image to process. So I made a couple of Photoshop actions to make quick work of it.

I made one action for horizontal aspects and one for vertical aspects because I set a specific dimension for downsizing. If I use the horizontal action on a vertical photo, I’ll end up with something that’s 800 pixels on the short dimension. The other handy thing about the actions is that the files get saved to the same folder every time, so I don’t have to specify anything in the save dialog box. It’s definitely handy for me!

If you haven’t made your own actions before, you’re missing out. It’s seriously easy, and you can get quite complex with them if the need arises. A Photoshop action is just a record of a sequence of post-processing steps. If you work on a photo, you’ll see that Photoshop keeps a history of what you’re doing. An action is very similar to that history, but you can play it back on different photos to make the program do the work for you.

In a follow-up article, I’ll show you how to make a Photoshop action and I’ll use my “Flickr save” action as an example. I’ll go through the basics of creating the action, runtime options, and talk about some other examples of what you can do with them.

Link Roundup 01-26-2008

  • PROJECT RESULTS: It Ain’t What You Got + Voting
    Neil Creek
    A great result for Neil’s first project — a collection of photos taken with less than optimal cameras. Check out the results and cast your vote for the best photos.
  • 15 unique stairs pictures
    All Day I Dream About Photography
    Great collection of photos all about stairs and staircases!
  • 17 Stunning Wide Angle Images
    digital Photography School
    Many digital photographers get a little obsessed by the ability that their zoom lenses give them to get in nice and close to their subjects. Here are some shots in the other direction.
  • 10 Curious Moments
    Sawse
    10 crazy photos from the history books — old photos (not Photoshopped) of curious moments captured of some curious performers.
  • New Blog: My GPS Camera Phone
    My GPS Camera Phone
    Cool new photography blog that’s all about camera phones! Interesting photos mixed in with some helpful articles… because sometimes, you just gotta put down that dSLR. Thanks for the tip-off Chica!
  • What It Takes to Get Your Photo on the Flickr Explore Page
    Photopreneur
    An examination of what it may take to get your photo featured on Flickr’s Explore page — but it’s still a bit of a mystery since none of us REALLY know the secrets.
  • The DIY Macro Rail
    DIYPhotography.net
    Make your own macro focusing rail with a simple vice and a few DIY mods. No, it’s not overkill.
  • Increase the Dynamic Range of a Single Image
    Paxton Prints
    Outline for a technique to double process a RAW file and merge the two together such that the resulting image has a much higher dynamic range than the original.
  • Video of the Week – Amazing, inspirational, educational, entertaining, captivating, and artistic. Great video about photographer Dan Schwartz on the topic of light graffiti — tips, techniques, AND great sample photos.

Destined For Retirement

Destined For Retirement

Brian Auer | 07/11/2007 | Independence, MO | 15mm * f/6.7 * 1/30s * ISO100
[Buy Prints] [Buy Rights] [See it at Flickr]

This photo was taken at my Grandfather‘s house in Missouri while my wife and I were on our move from New Jersey to California. His brother stopped by to visit, and he happened to be driving this big ugly rusted-out beast of a truck. He’s kind of a character, so something like this wasn’t totally unexpected. He’s actually very good at restorations and building custom vehicles — he just happened to be on a “rust rod” streak at the time (I think that’s what he termed it anyways). Here are some photos of the entire thing — no joke, this is what he used as his daily-driver… though I’m not sure if he’s still using it or if he’s moved on to another project.

The photo I shot for artistic purposes was the front driver’s side corner of the vehicle. I got in there real close with my 10mm lens and got some of that neat rust and paint texture. I processed the photo to focus on some of the colors and tones while making those textures and contrasty areas stick out. All in all I’m pretty happy with this one.

Destined For Retirement Post-Processing

I actually took most of the processing steps from Jake Garn’s Tutorial Video: Everything Old is New Again — and I tweaked it a bit for this image.

  1. In-Camera JPEG
    Not really much to say about this one, but it wasn’t much to look at either.
  2. Processed RAW
    I actually processed the contrast down a bit because I knew I’d be using the technique in the next step as soon as I got in Photoshop.
  3. Hard Mix Layer Blend
    I duplicated the base image and set the blending mode to “Hard Mix” at 43% opacity and 29% fill. This boosted up my contrast and saturation while giving it a little bit of a hard look.
  4. Black and White Adjustment
    I used the Black and White adjustment layer with a green filter in Photoshop CS3. I then set the blend mode to Overlay and dropped the opacity to 65% to de-emphasize the effect.
  5. Saturation Adjustment
    To wash it out a bit more, I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the saturation to -36.
  6. Warming Filter
    I added a Photo Filter adjustment layer set with a Warming Filter (LBA) at 40% to give it the final tint.
  7. Sharpening
    I sharpened with the Unsharp Mask at 86%, 2.0 pixels, and a threshold of 0 to help make the textures more pronounced.

Enjoy!

Photoshop Technique: LAB Saturation Adjustments

LAB Saturation

Saturation is one of those things that we tend to either ignore or overdo. In some color images, it’s the actual colors that account for the interesting-factor — and in those cases, saturation processing is very important.

I have the sneaking suspicion that most of us (yes, I’m at fault too) will use an RGB saturation adjustment layer (or an ACR adjustment) to boost the color saturation. This is probably OK for very small adjustments on the order of less than 5 or 10%. Once you go beyond that, you’ll start clipping the color highlights and end up losing tone details and textures.

But have no fear, there is a better way! The LAB (Lightness, A, B) color mode is quite useful for making higher quality adjustments to the saturation. I’m guessing that most will avoid LAB editing because it seems less intuitive, or because there’s no immediate need to use it. In reality, it’s no more difficult to use than the RGB color mode. So if you have an image that’s begging to be saturated, try out this technique and I’m certain you’ll find just how powerful it can be.

DOWNLOAD THE PHOTOSHOP ACTION

I’ve put together a Photoshop action that might help speed up the whole process. Laziness is usually why I’ll opt for the RGB saturation method vs the LAB method, so this action should make the process less tedious. Just apply any touch-ups or adjustment layers to your original image like you normally would, select the top layer when you’re ready to bump your saturation, and run the action. This action basically takes care of everything, but it gives you the ability to adjust the LAB curves half way through the execution. After getting the LAB curves adjusted (as outlined in step 4 below), you’ll be presented with a “Duplicate Layer” dialog — You MUST select your original document from the second drop down menu for things to work correctly. Give it a try, and let me know if there are any problems with it. Also, before you run it, you might want to run through the steps below just to get a better idea of what it’s doing.

1. OPEN YOUR IMAGE IN RGB MODE

Unadjusted RGB Image

The RGB color mode is the most common to work with, so I’ll assume that most of us use this as our default. We can still work in RGB even though we’re doing adjustments in LAB color mode — it’s just a little extra work. So open up your image as you normally would and apply any touch-ups such as spot removal or any other cloning or cropping. Once you’re comfortable with the base image, we’ll start looking at the color and contrast.

You can also go a different route than what I’m showing here — you could actually start up in LAB color mode straight out of the RAW file (for those of us processing RAW), skip steps 2 and 3, go straight to boosting the saturation, and just convert back to RGB when you’re done. What you want to avoid is excessively switching back and forth between RGB and LAB color modes.

2. RGB CURVE ADJUSTMENTS

RGB Curve AdjustmentCurves Adjusted

After applying my touch-ups, a curves adjustment is usually the first thing I do. The RGB curve is great for increasing contrast using the traditional “S” curve as I’ve shown here. This adjustment also gives the appearance of increased saturation too, so it’s a good idea to apply it and dial in your contrast prior to adding any color saturation.

3. OPEN A COPY IN LAB MODE

Make a copy of the visible image by doing a “Stamp Visible” command (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E). This gives us a single layer that contains all of the underlying adjustments we’ve applied. Now take this layer and duplicate it to a new document. Once in that new document, change the color mode to “LAB”. Why not just change the color mode in the original file? You’ll lose any RGB-specific adjustment layers such as the curves adjustment we just applied (go ahead, try it and see what happens). OK, so now we’re working with LAB and we’re ready to boost the contrast.

4. LAB CURVE ADJUSTMENTS

Lightness CurveLAB Adjusted
A CurveB Curve

We’ll do the saturation adjustment with a curves adjustment layer, but this time we’ll be adjusting each channel individually. Start with the “A” and “B” channels and make the adjustments as shown in the screenshot. Be sure to pull each side of the curve in equal amounts, otherwise you’ll end up with some funky color shifts. Same goes for adjustments between the two channels — try to keep them in the same ballpark. The last step is to go back to the “Lightness” channel and put a slight “S” curve into it to fine tune the contrast after adjusting the saturation. Again, extra contrast adds to the appearance of extra saturation.

5. COPY BACK TO THE RGB IMAGE

Once you’re happy with your saturation adjustment, you can merge the layers, stamp visible, flatten, etc. to give you a single layer with all of the color information. Now copy that layer back to your original image — it should convert itself back into RGB when you copy it over.

Once you’re back in the original image, you’re pretty much done with the adjustment. You can now toy around with masking and opacity settings to get the final look you’re after. If you’re seeing localized spots that seem too saturated our out of place, you can just brush over them on the mask with a low opacity brush until you get the results you need.

A COMPARISON OF THE RESULTS

Now for the fun part — let’s evaluate just how much better this technique is from a standard saturation adjustment that most of us are familiar with. Sometimes the old RGB method will work out better for you, but in my opinion, the LAB saturation is much more natural with deeper colors and less highlight clipping.

LAB Saturated (shown), RGB Saturated (mouse over)

LAB Saturated (shown), Curves Only (mouse over)

RGB Saturated (shown), Curves Only (mouse over)

LAB Saturated (shown), Original (mouse over)

RGB Saturated (shown), Original (mouse over)