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Old Aug 31, 2013, 06:36 AM   #1
Apple fanboy
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So I have taken these photo's, now what!

I have been enjoying my photography for a few months now, but I still don't really know what I should be doing regarding image editing. This is my current work flow.
Take photo's
Upload to iMac
Delete the really bad ones
Upload favorites to Flickr
Current software I have is the following;
iPhoto
DXO Optics Pro 8
DXO Film Pack 4
DXO Viewpoint
OnOne Perfect Photo Suit 7.5
Nik Complete Collection (which I don't use as it's not standalone).
I realise I need to get either Lightroom or Aperture, but I don't really enjoy this side of my photography as much as the taking photos. I never really know if what I'm doing is correct or not. Here is an example of a shot I have not edited.


Here is the edited version. I have cropped it and tweaked it a bit in Optics Pro.
Have I made it better or just different? What would you pro's have done differently?



There are loads of tutorials on YouTube but sometimes when I play with an image, I just seem to make it worse, so just bin the project.
Any help greatly appreciated.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 08:06 AM   #2
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That's a lot of software...

What your pix need, IMO, is more light, which, without need for software, can really 'lift' a pic.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 08:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Doylem View Post
That's a lot of software...

What your pix need, IMO, is more light, which, without need for software, can really 'lift' a pic.
I should point out all the software was free (not pireted). It was quite overcast with lots of overhanging trees. Should the picture replicate how it looked when taken or something else?
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 08:25 AM   #4
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There are a lot of choices you can make before you press the shutter (including not pressing the shutter!). Your post seems to suggest that what your pictures lack is expertise with PP editing... and I'm saying that light (it comes in many guises...) can be the magic ingredient...
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 08:50 AM   #5
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Doylem is right about the light suggestion, although I like the light in your picture..

Looks like you have spot metered the brightest aspects and so therefore are showing the scene exactly how you saw it. This is exactly what I like to do. Sometimes though it comes out a little dark, and thats where good post skills come in.. Play with whatever 'shadows' options you have in your software, and see what happens.

You have ruined the picture by cropping it.. The original is a way better composition in my opinion. It enables you to 'look into' the scene.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 09:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by cupcakes2000 View Post
The original is a way better composition in my opinion. It enables you to 'look into' the scene.
Couldn't agree more.

Heres an example of the (extreme) recovery that lightroom can get you, and I'm FARRR from good at PP.

Click image for larger version

Name:	LightroomB-A.jpg
Views:	205
Size:	305.7 KB
ID:	430768
(click for full size...)

Like anything, it just takes practice.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 10:01 AM   #7
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Couldn't agree more.

Heres an example of the (extreme) recovery that lightroom can get you, and I'm FARRR from good at PP.

Attachment 430768
(click for full size...)

Like anything, it just takes practice.
Practise, skill and time! I'm currently downloading Lightroom 5 30 day trial. I will see how I get on with it and then decide from there. At least I can use all those Nik plug-ins I have!
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 10:09 AM   #8
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Practise, skill and time! I'm currently downloading Lightroom 5 30 day trial. I will see how I get on with it and then decide from there. At least I can use all those Nik plug-ins I have!
I've only just started using Lightroom 5 - the way I work is like this:
  • Import photos
  • Flag 'picks' - ones that are worth doing some PP on.
  • Start by applying lens corrections, cropping and levelling.
  • Adjust basics using the 'auto' button - make a few manual changes
  • Adjust highlights and shadows using the curves graph tool
  • Adjust any colours/use filters to, for instance, make the sky more contrasted
  • Adjust sharpness

The trick is not to over-process your images - if you get it right in camera, then the adjustments you make should (most of the time) be fairly slight.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 11:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AT06 View Post
I've only just started using Lightroom 5 - the way I work is like this:
  • Import photos
  • Flag 'picks' - ones that are worth doing some PP on.
  • Start by applying lens corrections, cropping and levelling.
  • Adjust basics using the 'auto' button - make a few manual changes
  • Adjust highlights and shadows using the curves graph tool
  • Adjust any colours/use filters to, for instance, make the sky more contrasted
  • Adjust sharpness

The trick is not to over-process your images - if you get it right in camera, then the adjustments you make should (most of the time) be fairly slight.
Okay thanks. Been watching a few of the tutorials. So much to learn (as usual). I'll have a go at a few images tonight and upload some examples.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 02:35 PM   #10
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Q: "So I have taken these photo's, now what!"
A: Take more! Lots and lots more! It's the best way to improve.

I think you'll like Lightroom, I certainly do but it is easy to overdo the PP. I'm certainly guilty of that but then I quite like an over saturated, HDR looking image at times.

Most of all though make sure that you are enjoying yourself and that the pictures you are taking make you happy. Unless you're planning on making a living with it then the only audience that matters is you. I realise that most of my images are pretty "Meh" but they bring me a lot of pleasure as I enjoy taking them and making them look how I want them to. That's all I care about.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 03:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MacRy View Post
Q: "So I have taken these photo's, now what!"
A: Take more! Lots and lots more! It's the best way to improve.

I think you'll like Lightroom, I certainly do but it is easy to overdo the PP. I'm certainly guilty of that but then I quite like an over saturated, HDR looking image at times.

Most of all though make sure that you are enjoying yourself and that the pictures you are taking make you happy. Unless you're planning on making a living with it then the only audience that matters is you. I realise that most of my images are pretty "Meh" but they bring me a lot of pleasure as I enjoy taking them and making them look how I want them to. That's all I care about.
I don't believe I'll ever make money taking photos. For me it's a hobby. If I get a shot in my day out that looks good I'm happy. If I get more than one, even better. I just want to make sure my images are as good as they can be. As well as learning about compositition and exposure, that also means editing. Hopefully I will get better at that as well.

Your photos look good to me.
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Old Aug 31, 2013, 04:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Apple fanboy View Post
I have been enjoying my photography for a few months now, but I still don't really know what I should be doing regarding image editing. [:::snip:::] I never really know if what I'm doing is correct or not.
If you don't know where to go with your editing, then you probably don't have clear goals in mind. It takes a while for anyone to develop their 'power' of visualization, but once it starts to click, you'll know what to do. Seeking out critique will help a lot to get you to see your photos more objectively, so it's good that you posted a couple of images and asked for comments on them. Eventually, through lots of shooting and seeking critique, you'll lock into a range of interests and aesthetics that will guide you in both shooting and processing. Then your problem will be not "where do I go?" but "how do I get there?"

Quote:
Here is the edited version. I have cropped it and tweaked it a bit in Optics Pro.
Have I made it better or just different?
Cropped it a bit? I don't even see where the two images correspond! Are they really the same image? Anyway, I actually think that your instinct to crop a lot was a good one; there is just too much going on in the first photo. You may have taken it too far, though, leaving some lumps of rock protruding into the margins of the foreground that don't contribute to the composition in any significant way. The stream of reflected light helps to lead the eye deeper into the frame, but there isn't much of a pay-off for us when we get back there. A bright cascade with some whitewater or a shining beam of golden light back there (or both) would really help to give the scene a sense of resolution and purpose. There is actually some light back there, so you might be able to bring it out and warm it up in post. You might even dab in a warm glow with an adjustment layer or even a layer of added color in photoshop to get those lit areas to pop as they probably did when you were standing there (cameras tend to kill off that kind of effect, so you have to bring it back manually sometimes).

That said, this may not be the best moment for this location. If you live nearby, you might consider returning when there is more water running down those rocks and more light flooding in, if possible. Maybe a misty Spring morning would work well. In the meantime, it's still a worthwhile exercise to see what you can bring out with post-processing. Editing photos is good fodder for the visualization process on future photos. The more you know what is possible in post, the more you can do at the moment of capture to prepare for it. So definitely do explore the possibilities, but resist the temptation to see processing as a magic bullet. Just keep in mind that shooting comes first--in every sense of the phrase!
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 04:48 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Apple fanboy View Post
I have been enjoying my photography for a few months now, but I still don't really know what I should be doing regarding image editing.
I like your first shot Apple fanboy, the background is stronger and leads the eye in. As P said you could work on bringing some of the levels up there.

I agree with Doylem about thinking about the pic before pressing the shutter:

I think the foreground is weaker - the repetition in form and colour don't add a lot of visual interest for me. You could perhaps improve this by keeping the same focal length, but walk closer and try to include a lone feature, such as a rock, flower, twirling leaf, or even a model on that center rock?

Once you've mastered the shot (including the light) in camera, then you can enhance with magic glow and create wow-factor if you wish, (the amount of which strongly dependant on your purpose and audience )
A lot of people on this board (photographers) seem to agree with minimal post processing, wheras for promotional material you may want to bump things up a level.

It's often about striking the right balance.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 05:07 AM   #14
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You've got some magic cropping skills. Vantage point change and all.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 09:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lone Deranger View Post
You've got some magic cropping skills. Vantage point change and all.
No magic cropping skills, just a rubbish memory. I think I chose the wrong original! So here are two images (promise they are the same!). Before LR edit



And after



Too much, not enough? Let me know your thoughts.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 10:13 AM   #16
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Looks like you're going for the 'silk purse/sow's ear' approach: start with a dull pic and twiddle a few knobs, in PP, till it looks a bit better. You're putting the cart before the horse...
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 11:07 AM   #17
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As Doylem has said the approach of "I've taken the pics, now how do I edit them?" Isn't really the right question.

When I take pics I already know how they are going to be edited. I used to think that I could take what looked like boring pictures and then 'fix' them in post but I quickly realised that this is not the case although there are photographers that will spend 2 hours on a YouTube tutorial trying to prove otherwise. I much favour the extra 10 mins spent getting a shot right in camera.

An example of knowing how I am going to edit is whilst taking a shot maybe protecting the highlights knowing I can bring up the shadows in post or leaving the WB on auto for reference knowing that in post I can get it just as I need. It'll come with time with your camera and you will start to learn its limits as well as how to excel. To those who say that post isn't necessary it's how photos have been processed since photography began!

The only other thing I apply is a few presets I have created and if there is a person in the shot I usually boost the face +0.3 exposure just to brighten them up a bit and pop them from the background a little.

To put it into a workflow similar to yours it is:
  • Plan shoot (Most important! If it's not worthwhile then what's the point! This is as simple as making sure all the equipment I need is there if it's an event.)
  • Take pictures
  • Import into Lightroom
  • Reject all really bad pics (I'm talking: blinks, blurs, OOF, shots of feet/floor/misfires)
  • Mark "red" all shots I like and want to edit
  • Edit first shot and copy settings
  • Assuming similar scene paste and tweak settings for the other photos
  • Export custom export for Facebook, Flickr, Imgur
  • All photos go to archival Flickr and selects to my personal account.
  • Plug in external harddrive and let Tri-Backup copy all the shots over.
  • Backup Catalog in Lightroom on quitting.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 11:59 AM   #18
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So in LR the auto suggestion changed nothing in this shot. Does that mean I shot it correctly and leave it alone? I guess so as I like this one a lot.



----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrasikleia View Post
If you don't know where to go with your editing, then you probably don't have clear goals in mind. It takes a while for anyone to develop their 'power' of visualization, but once it starts to click, you'll know what to do. Seeking out critique will help a lot to get you to see your photos more objectively, so it's good that you posted a couple of images and asked for comments on them. Eventually, through lots of shooting and seeking critique, you'll lock into a range of interests and aesthetics that will guide you in both shooting and processing. Then your problem will be not "where do I go?" but "how do I get there?"



Cropped it a bit? I don't even see where the two images correspond! Are they really the same image? Anyway, I actually think that your instinct to crop a lot was a good one; there is just too much going on in the first photo. You may have taken it too far, though, leaving some lumps of rock protruding into the margins of the foreground that don't contribute to the composition in any significant way. The stream of reflected light helps to lead the eye deeper into the frame, but there isn't much of a pay-off for us when we get back there. A bright cascade with some whitewater or a shining beam of golden light back there (or both) would really help to give the scene a sense of resolution and purpose. There is actually some light back there, so you might be able to bring it out and warm it up in post. You might even dab in a warm glow with an adjustment layer or even a layer of added color in photoshop to get those lit areas to pop as they probably did when you were standing there (cameras tend to kill off that kind of effect, so you have to bring it back manually sometimes).

That said, this may not be the best moment for this location. If you live nearby, you might consider returning when there is more water running down those rocks and more light flooding in, if possible. Maybe a misty Spring morning would work well. In the meantime, it's still a worthwhile exercise to see what you can bring out with post-processing. Editing photos is good fodder for the visualization process on future photos. The more you know what is possible in post, the more you can do at the moment of capture to prepare for it. So definitely do explore the possibilities, but resist the temptation to see processing as a magic bullet. Just keep in mind that shooting comes first--in every sense of the phrase!
Thanks for the feedback. Sadly this was about a two and a half hour journey, so I'm unlikely to be going back anytime soon. I will edit the shots I have as you suggested to see if I can get it to look better. Might have to wait a few days though as I'm back to work tomorrow.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 01:26 PM   #19
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So in LR the auto suggestion changed nothing in this shot. Does that mean I shot it correctly and leave it alone? I guess so as I like this one a lot.
Yes and no.

There is no way a computer can deduce what makes a good shot and the Auto Tone feature only goes to level out the highlights and shadows and create a more averagely exposed image.

It's all a matter of taste. Who are you taking photos for and therefore what is required of them post-wise.

If it's just yourself then great. Take them and edit them until you are happy with the shot. If it's for someone else get to know what sort of shots they like and what styles that means you have emulate in your edit.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 01:35 PM   #20
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I have to agree that spending 10 minutes extra to get that one shot is worth it. With the quality of the displays on most cameras now, and the histogram, it's very easy to tell if your image has been properly exposed. Lightroom should only really be for minor tweaks, and the occasional shot where the light range is just too much (although that's what hdr is for).
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 05:54 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Apple fanboy View Post
So in LR the auto suggestion changed nothing in this shot. Does that mean I shot it correctly and leave it alone?
There is no such thing as "correctly" in absolute terms. There is only the exposure that correctly produces the image that you want to create--the one that matches what you saw/envisioned. The only exception I can think of would be reproduction photography; for example, where a photographer needs to make a close facsimile of a painting. Otherwise, it's up to you whether or not you want a dark, moody image, a bright, high-key one, or something else entirely. A photograph is your interpretation of a moment, so ask yourself what it is that really attracts you to a scene, what about it makes it special to you, and then do everything you can to communicate that specialness to the viewer. With those sorts of goals in mind, you'll have a much clearer idea of what to do both before and after you press that shutter button.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 06:00 PM   #22
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Hi Apple Fanboy,

I'd agree with a lot of what has been said already. Take it on board. I have just a few pieces of advice to shell out, feel free to take it or leave it as I'm no pro (this is just what I've learned along my journey).

1. Just because something looks good in front of you, doesn't mean it will look good in a photo. Sunsets are a prime example. They are wonderful to watch but it turns out, for me at least, to make boring photos. Instead try to grasp what makes an interesting photo; you'll often find it is stuff that you would normally walk past and ignore.

2. Don't shoot a poor photo and think you'll 'correct' it in post-processing somehow. All my photos need some PP one way or another just because the camera doesn't get the contrast I see when I click the shutter. But if you are going to use PP extensively for a photo, have an idea of what will be needed before you click. Like "I know the sky is brighter than the ground, so I'll expose for the ground knowing that I'll have to add a grad filter to the sky in PP". Shoot with purpose, not hopefullness.

3. Get some guidance. A couple of invaluable books are Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson and The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman.

In the end, it's up to *you* what you want your photos to looks like. That's the beauty of photography. I know all of this doesn't relate to your PP questions posed at the start of the thread, but if you take on board what every one else has said then your photography will rock

Alex
PS Keep posting photos, it would be great to see you journey.
PPS Listen to Phrasikleia. Click on that link in her signature and you'll see why.
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 06:37 PM   #23
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I have nothing to add other than to say that this is a really thread. Many, including myself, can learn a great deal from this discussion.

Thank you to all,
...Peter
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Old Sep 2, 2013, 11:02 AM   #24
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Lots of very good advice above. Really good advice. All I can add is a short summary.

Ask yourself, before you push the button, "Why am I taking this photograph?" Then answer that question with the photograph... taking care to eliminate or minimize any other element(s).

Often just figuring out in your mind the "why" takes more time than the actual photo taking. At least initially.

For instance, the shot of the yellow flowers you posted. Why did you take the shot? Was it the 'yellow-ness'? In which case you could lightly tweak the yellow up a bit, perhaps. Was it the texture? In which case moving your point of view so that the texture of the background was uniform instead of both needles and leaves. etc etc.

Luck.
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Old Sep 2, 2013, 12:29 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by snberk103 View Post
Lots of very good advice above. Really good advice. All I can add is a short summary.

Ask yourself, before you push the button, "Why am I taking this photograph?" Then answer that question with the photograph... taking care to eliminate or minimize any other element(s).

Often just figuring out in your mind the "why" takes more time than the actual photo taking. At least initially.

For instance, the shot of the yellow flowers you posted. Why did you take the shot? Was it the 'yellow-ness'? In which case you could lightly tweak the yellow up a bit, perhaps. Was it the texture? In which case moving your point of view so that the texture of the background was uniform instead of both needles and leaves. etc etc.

Luck.
I liked the texture of the flowers and the yellow. Also I was quick to spot that if I crouched down on the rockery, I could fill the background with the green bush. So I knew I could blur the background as much as possible, to isolate the yellow flowers. I had this printed out at work today (along with a few others), which are my first prints since buying a DSLR. I think this makes them look even better than seeing them on the screen.
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