Learning Post Processing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by dukeofism, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. dukeofism macrumors member

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    Jul 22, 2009
    #1
    I originally tried posting this in the Design and Graphics section here on MacRumors, but then I got directed to post here so:
    I have been doing some photography recently. I have never really done any post processing besides an occasional crop or resize. How should I go about learning photo post processing? Does anyone know of a good website/book/online tutorial as an introduction to Photo post production?
     
  2. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    Mar 10, 2005
    #2
    How do you define "post processing"?

    Depending on the level you want to learn, it can be as basic as understanding color and making moderate global adjustments accordingly, to diving in with a wacom and redrawing parts of the image with minute adjustments layers in order to create a conglomerate finished piece.
     
  3. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #3
    I recommend "Photoshop Color Correction" by Michael Kieran. You can pick up used copies very cheaply on Amazon. I think color correction is really Square 1 with post-processing photographs: all else depends upon some understanding of it. That book is very clearly written, includes lots of helpful photos, and comes with a CD of the photos so you can try to follow along on your own computer.
     
  4. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

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    #4
    Read anything by Scott Kelby. He is a great teacher an his books are great. It can seem tricky, but do your best to not let yourself get overwhelmed.

    SLC
     
  5. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #5
    Scott Kelby is an interesting read and he does know his stuff.

    I have PhotoShop Restoration and Retouching by Katherin Eismann. My copy dates back to PhotoShop 6, but all the techniques apply to CS3. I was even able to find all the tutorial files online.

    Post processing in digital photography is a big topic. I tried looking at my first RAW file in PS today, and I need a new book to understand all to the adjustments Adobe Camera Raw provides.

    Anyone know a good RAW book?

    Dale
     
  6. davegregory macrumors regular

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    #6
    Photoshop CS3/CS4 for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby does an excellent job of taking you through ACR adjustments. It will help you get most of your post processing done before taking the image into Photoshop. Highly recommended. Gives you a good idea where to go with your workflow.

    Here's the link to Kelby's site.
     
  7. electroshock macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

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    #7
    Seconded. I've had good experience in recommending it to others in the same boat. In at least one university (not mine), their intro to digital photography course uses this as its primary textbook.
     
  8. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Scott Kelby is entertaining and he knows how to present topics pretty well. But too often, he advocates flattening his layers before proceeding forward. Red flag. If he's doing something that requires a flattened layer of the current process, instead use a ctrl-opt-shift-e copy merge layer. That given, I still own 3-4 books by him.

    I use "Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers," by Martin Evening, as my essential reference book. It's thick and short on Kelby's humor, but an essential for how everything in the program works amongst itself and with other options.
     
  9. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #9
    post processing suggestions...

    I have been an AD and imaging specialist for about 25 years, and have also taught imaging techniques & pshop to other professionals (designers & photographers). I USED to suggest Hayes/Crumpler Photoshop Artistry, god knows what version is out now. The book is especially useful if you are coming from a photography side, but I have used it for designers as well.

    All that being said, despite being a die-hard Pshop fan, the bloom has faded on the rose regarding Adobe, and Photoshop. Despite annual "versions", not much has really functionally changed since PS6 (IMO), except the pricing schemes (and I mean schemes) to bilk the professionals with badly opted upgrade paths. The cost has spirialed beyond reason, yet the functionality has not. Sort of like making blenders and just keep adding "speeds" as bling over substance. Furthermore Adobe has been ridiculous with their slow pace of development on the Mac side, which is frustrating since they essentially started as products for professionals who used macs. Lots to be attacked there about, and I really don't care to go there...

    If you are looking for software understanding... check out Lynda.com. They have a number of free tutorials, and if you subscribe for a month or a quarter, the cost is not too bad. The amount of aps they cover is pretty huge. Be careful of many of the seminars, as many are a waste of time. Talk to others who have taken the courses before you leap. Apple also offers some basic courses covering iPhoto and Aperture, many of these are free.

    After spending most of my career working with pshop, as of late I have slowly been moving away. Stuff that involves type, and or layers still goes through pshop... but other than that I use Aperture. A year ago I embraced the NIK plug-ins for Aperture from Nikon... WOW! It is amazing what can be done, and the control over your imaging that it brings. The logic is unlike pshop, but very easy to grasp quickly... as is Aperture itself. I can teach someone to use both on a basic level MUCH faster than explaining imaging basics in pshop. The NIK stuff is available as a suite, and the total price is only a bit more than just one of the filters/plug-ins (look for specials too). Aperture is dirt cheap IMO as well, and you might be able to get away without having pshop as well (unless you will need to merge/render type on your pics, and don't want to do that in Quark/InDesign... or if you need to work with a lot of layers, or need to do compositing work... like swapping someones head etc.). Nikon has a great website with a lot of free tutorials as well. The suite runs $299, and Aperture is now $199 ($155 at Amazon).
    I work on thousands on images each year, and BOTH are a joy to work with, and MUCH MUCH faster than working in pshop. Nikons tutorials are here: http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore/usa/entry.php

    Both aps have free trials to try, and I would suggest trying both before you made any decision. The best way to learn of course is by doing...
    and calibrate your monitor as well. I use a hardware kit called Sypder2, and there are tons of different ones out there for $99-199.

    best of luck to you,
    michael
     
  10. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    Alaska
    #10
    Aperture sounds very interesting, so I have thought of upgrading to PSE8 and using Aperture, too. Now, in relation to "Nik's Software" his applications aren't compatible with non-Intel Macs, I believe. For the time being I still can use Aperture and PSE8, and when upgrading my PPC Mac someday, I could purchase the Nik's software package.
     
  11. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Aperture + NIK suite...

    AlaskaMoose... Aperture is not perfect, however I am running it off a 24" White iMac with the max 3gb ram, so I am trying to be realistic. I also have a HUGE library of high-res images (55-60,000 pics). That being said it still works. When Apple releases the quad-core 30" iMac with 8gb ram this fall (you heard it here first, lol) I will upgrade... but until then it runs well. It, like pshop, can be a ram pig... and I tend to have a lot of aps open at the same time.

    These are the NIK requirements: (so, you may actually be able to run the filters/plugins...)
    Macintosh Requirements:
    • Mac OS 10.4 and and 10.5 or later
    • G4, G5, Intel® Core™ Solo, Intel Core Duo, Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Xeon®
    • 1 GB RAM
    • Apple Aperture 2.1 or later
    • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.3

    Aperture was a game changer for me, and I quickly started doing more and more imaging tasks with it than pshop. I have not bothered with levels/curves/lab color etc... in over a year and a half. I don't miss it, and I am MUCH faster cleaning up my pics (and I was very fast in pshop). Aperture plays nicely with external editors as well, control/click any image and you can edit with pshop or any of the NIK plug-ins. I have used many plug-ins over the years, but the NIK suite basically revolutionized my workflow. Plus, for me, the products are a joy to use... and moved much of my workflow from drudgery to one more based in play. Batch process images... save and apply presets... I simply love it, and the results are amazing. Buy the suite, you can buy it for a little more than one plug-in (I did at least, you may have to look or wait a little for a sale). Color Efex Pro 3 & Viveza are the most often used, but the Sharpener*Pro is used a lot too. Download the trial versions which I think I fully featured, and watch the demo clips on the site. Can't say enough about the powerful combination of the two aps... they make it easier for me to work magic. Plus, they are MUCH easier to pick-up, and less arcane than pshop. Within mere minutes I was able to bumble around and learn my way with the NIK interface & logic... and to produce great results. Apertures interface is not quite as intuitive as iPhoto, but still a vast improvement over bridge/lightroom and the previous database aps I was using to catalog & archive our images. Hopefully a 3.0 version will come out soon, with as many improvements as the 2.0 version had (I switched when 1.0 came out).

    Here is a quickie example of aperture + NIK at work, I did this in about 2 minutes, and they are just screenshots... so cut me some slack, lol... cheers, michael

    [​IMG]
    Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch
     
  12. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #12
    NIK + Aperture again...

    Here is another quickie example, taking an "OK" image and tweaking it. On pics that are of higher quality, the results are awesome... again this is just a screenshot, and I did this in about 2 minutes in about 6 rotations (steps).
    michael

    [​IMG]
    Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch
     
  13. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    Jun 9, 2009
    #13
    I also think you should be aware to approach post-processing with the proper mindset. The PP is done to complete one's vision of the intended image. Therefore, spend time learning to identify what it is you want to "see" in your images, then look up and learn the techniques needed to fullfill those goals.

    Books and tutorials will teach you how, but you also need to be aware of the why.

    Ruahrc
     
  14. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #14
    This is golden advice. The tools are always changing; it's the vision that matters.
     
  15. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    Alaska
  16. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Well thanks for the kind words... I'll give one more example, one from a better image to start with. The NIK approach is something completely different from pshop. It lets you select key points, and then apply modifications to what is selected. You can change the range that the points apply to, from a minute area, to essentially the whole image. You can also produce lighting effects that are the equivalent of holding reflector panels (silver, gold, etc) towards your subjects, and draw out details that seem to be lost otherwise. You can also create halos or areas of brightness to draw the eye in on otherwise "flat" tonal areas... and the effect can be moderated from the subtle to the extreme. I should also point out that these plugins are available for pshop and I think Lightroom as well... but as I have said before, much of my imaging as been moved away from pshop to Aperture. I am lucky enough to work with a gifted shooter who makes my work look good. Aperture + NIK has been an essential element to bring our work to another level. Anyway... I always say... try the demos and see if they work for you as well. cheers, michael

    [​IMG]
    Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch
     
  17. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Problem is, now your images have these light circles in them as opposed to smooth transitions from light to dark. It creates splotchy patterns intended to pull focus into a subject, sure, but masking needs to be used to retain the sky value while focusing only on the subject material. As it stands, this method does not have the same control that Photoshop does. It's post-processing that leaves the tool strokes very evident.
     
  18. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #18
    no... the problem is really that these are just screenshots. NIKS approach offers much more control than photoshops traditional masking methods, IMO. There are NO splotches or areas of inconsistent gradation, and the transitions are fully malleable. Furthermore photoshop's transitions and gradations are often pretty crappy and are fairly easily subject to banding. I have been electronically masking and retouching images for many, many years now, and before that I retouched and tinted images with airbrush & oils. The "techniques" that one uses in photoshop is much akin to the pre-electronic methods in many ways.

    There are many aspects to the NIK filter set, and you can choose to use some, or none of them, as to your own personal preference. Much as with pshops filters, and third party plug-ins. The "strokes" are not evident at all in the full-res 32-35mb image, but the effect is indeed there. Whether the end result is "better" or not, is a matter of subjective opinion and taste. Photographers have been darkening the edges of their images from lighting control on the set, to within the darkroom, to within pshop... for years now. Sometimes the effect is subtle, and sometimes it is overt. It is simply an established technique that is widely accepted and commonly used.

    If you have actually tried and used the set, and found it to be lacking for you own use that is another matter. Many, if not most, of the software aps in my toolbox are lacking in some areas. Few are actually considered essential. All of them could be improved in some area or another. There are a select few that are considered "essential" desert island aps, that I could not live or function without. I still USE pshop everyday. I still consider it an essential ap, however 90% of my imaging is done with Aperture & the NIK environment. I consider my newer approach/methods a vast improvement over what I had been doing for the last 10 years.

    Photoshop is the easy choice to recommend, and is the "professional" standard. However, that being said, what real improvements have occurred since PS4? I am not saying that there have been improvements... but have there been substantial workflow takeaways to justify it's annual escalating cost? Or have they been mostly "adding speeds to a blender"?? How quickly can one dive in and really learn a working knowledge of the program, and to produce good results? I know... I see files that come in from agencies and artists everyday that would make your hair stand on end (or fall out, lol). How many folks REALLY understand pshops color management, or even calibrate their equipment to industry standards? Over the years I have taught imaging techniques to many professional designers as well as professional photographers. Hands down, I could teach a rudimentary/functional foundation much quicker with Aperture/NIK.

    NIK's "control point" approach really works in a different manner, and it is MUCH quicker to do many things from within NIK, than it is from pshop alone (and you could even choose to work with pshop/NIK as opposed to Aperture/NIK).

    I am not a shill for any product, but I gladly pass along my own working experiences that may benefit someone new to the profession, or even someone who has been in it for years. One can always learn something new, and try to do something in a different way. Whether it is "better" or not is a decision best left to the end user... and also why fully-featured trial demos are so valuable. Even that is sometimes not enough (as my chock full ap folder will attest, lol). To each his own...
    peace, michael

    PS: the image shown was not a final version. There were some splotches in the original that have not been removed yet, these splotches were caused by dust on the sensors of the photographer's camera, and not by the processing. Even a standard levels/curves adjustment would have made these defects more evident. In the older days I would always fix the major defects first, but usually within Aperture, I do these last, along with any final tweaks.
     
  19. mlblacy macrumors 6502

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    #19
    your link... fictional photography

    PPS: I just followed the link to the website in your sig...

    The first two images are perfect examples of selective focus and lighting effects.
    Also the manneristic acidic tones and the sculptural feel of the figures can be easily achieved within the NIK environment. Nice stuff...

    Don't want to argue how good the "hammer" is in my toolbox.... and don't care to debate how "good" the results are... it works for me.

    cheers, michael

    [​IMG]
    Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch
     

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