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February 01, 2011

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I try so hard to keep a similarly subtle approach in my own processing, but that little devil on my shoulder just cries out for "more, more, more" :)

Seriously though, its easy to get carried away sometimes and end up with something that is initially eye catching, but not satisfying. It will get a first glance, but not a second.

Knowing how to restrain yourself comes sometimes only with experience.

I also started from minimal tweaking. Last night I dug out a couple of old photos from the archives, went back to raw files, but instead of ACR I processed them in DxO with well-emulated Provia settings... results blew me away for being so much more vibrant (and still realistic within reason).

This is what I do to all my pictures. Using Lightroom I increase the exposure, increases the blacks (watch the histogram) and fine tune the brightness. It's like a miracle every time. Not seldom I'll add some clarity and adjust the saturation. That's all folks.

Several of my favorite photos from my own portfolio were bland and forgettable straight OOC. A B&W conversion and a bit of fiddling with the curves produced a startling transformation in them. As a result, my editing process now incorporates a fair bit of guesswork about how much improvement can be made by simple adjustments to an unremarkable source file. I find that the most striking improvments are often to the sky, where increasing the separation between highlight tones can bring out amazing cloud detail.

Yep, setting the black & white points, white balance correction, dash of local contrast enhancement, shadow/highlight detail, perspective correction, distortion correction, tone curve adjustments, sharpening ... each one can be subtle to small in affect but the nett result is significant. And your image still looks like a photograph, not a digital illustration (my preference).

I'd recommend Martin Evening's PS books.

[I use Levels for setting the B & W points, but Curves for colour correction and tonal adjustments.]

The Medium and Strong Contrast adjustments in Lightroom are a photographer's best friend, along with Auto Tone to see just what kind of potential a "dull" photograph of mine might bring. I will then proceed to fine tune with manual adjustments but most times Auto Tone surprisingly works well if I have heaps of photographs to process. Another book recommendation is David duChemin's "Vision and Voice" with great examples of his Lightroom workflow.

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