Process for Photo Correction?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Tomar, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Tomar macrumors member

    May 21, 2008

    Is there a recommended process for photo correction and editing. In other words, do you adjust the color first, then sharpen, then contrast, etc...?

  2. torger macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2009
    Ill bump his post and at the same time ask: What is your routine? And do you edit non destructive?
  3. Tomar thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2008
    I use PSE 6 and typically I would use the guided edit feature and just move down the list. I don't know if the list of adjustments were placed randomly by the software designers or whether one should use this process to edit photos. I try to use non-destructive methods.
  4. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Below I've written out my full workflow. But put simply, I don't think there's much difference between when you do what.

    If possible, use adjustment layers--these are non-destructive. Personally I fix colors first, but that's because off-colors annoy me.

    Sharpening should be your last step. (makes sense, right? you don't want to apply effects to unsharpen what you just sharpened.)

    My workflow:

    1) drag/drop photos from card over to desktop (there are some minor issues with landscape/portrait auto-orientation right now)

    1b) eject card. Do not erase.

    2) Import into Aperture 2. Simultaneously add general metadata and event-specific metadata. Simultaneously use a version naming sequence unique to that event and each photo (yyyy_mm_dd-event name_photonumber).

    3) Cull photos by browsing full screen. Flag photos by pressing the "+" key (adding one star).

    4) Go through the tagged photos and cull again (now giving two stars), if necessary.

    5) Crop, align, and otherwise make small adjustments to the photos I tagged. If the color is off, I'll make the corrections to one photo, lift that adjustment, and stamp it on the other photos. Crop and alignment follows that.

    6) Identify and edit any photos that need major editing by exporting to Photoshop (Aperture makes a second copy of the photo, and upon saving in Photoshop the corrected version appears in Aperture).

    Edit:---At some point between 3 and 7, I also add photo-specific metadata, especially names---

    7) Run Synk Backup to backup photos.

    8) After Synk is finished, card may be erased.

    Everything in my workflow is nondestructive. As soon as the photos hit my Aperture library, it's already on a mirrored RAID. The sync step is making a third copy onto an external HDD. (No, I don't do two distinct geographic locations. The photos aren't worth that much hassle.)

    A similar workflow can be carried out by using Lightroom, or in a more painful fashion by using Automater, finder, and photoshop.
  5. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I use Photoshop CS4, and I usually do the following:

    >Crop and straighten (if required)
    >Shadows and highlights (if required)
    >Colour balance (if required)
    >Noise removal (if required)
    >Unsharp mask
  6. steeveage macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2004
    Redwood City, CA
    Thanks for the detailed description termina, helps to see what other Aperture users are doing.
  7. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    Would there be a reason to crop first rather than last? I'm still learning post processing, and really lacking confidence that the edits i'm making are the correct decisions. However that being said I find I like to make all of the adjustments in much the same order as PCMacUser, align/straighten > levels> Highlights > colors > Noise > unsharp mask > Crop.
    For whatever reason i'm thinking I want all of the image there to make the best adjustments and then when its done I crop to my final vision.
    Just wondering because this is not the only place i've seen people list crop as one of their first steps in the post processing process.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes. There is a best way to do this...

    First crop and straighten. There is no reason let parts of the image you crop off to influence any further steps. Crop first. When you evaluate a histogram you do NOT want parts of the image you are going to crop to show up in the histogram and mis-inform your assesment.

    Next do any levels or exposure adjustments. You can not judge color in a to dark or to light image.

    Adjust the white balance next

    Re-size the image if required.

    Finally sharpen it. Sharpening must ONLY be done after you have resized the image as the re-size operation greatly effects sharpness and the amount of sharpening depends on the final size. If you are sending images to both the web and the printer you will need to make two version of the image.

    (Of course before you do any of the above you have already decided of which are "selects" and which are "rejects" and correct only the ones you are keeping.)

    Just remember that theft of equipment is one of, if not the leading cause of data loss. I think it's worth the effort to carry a 1TB external drive to the office once every few weeks.
  9. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    I cull and crop first because I don't want to deal with photos I don't need to edit, or parts of photos that I don't need to edit. Why try and save that highlight if you're just gonna crop it out?

    Also, the point about histograms is good, and considerably more valid than the argument I just made above. For that reason alone you should crop first. One of those things I hadn't thought about.

    That's a good point--and to be honest I hadn't thought of it--but I'm still not concerned. There is little to no crime in my neighborhood, I have two great big (>100lbs) dogs that scare away most everyone, and my house has literally never been broken into since it was built in the late 1920s.

    My office is my school; it's more likely that the photos would be stolen there.

    To my credit, I have a SmugMug account which holds many of my high-res "selects," although admittedly it only accounts for less than 1/10th of my library.
  10. Tomar thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2008
    This is some good stuff!

    ChrisA - I like your reasoning and it makes a lot of sense. I have always used the order shown in the Guided Edit panel (just because I did not know any better). As such, I would sharpen before making any adjustments to color or exposure. Now I know that sharpening is the last thing one should do.
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    It is worth it to buy a $25 per month subscription to They have some good video tutorials and for $25 you get unlimited access. I didn't think up what I wrote but last year I watched about 30 hours of Photoshop tutorials. One month is about long enough to get through the basics. There is enough good content on the site to keep you watching for many, many months
  12. Tomar thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2008
    Thanks for the tip, ChrisA. If you join this online class, can you download and save the tutorials or can only watch them streamed?

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