What are favored steps, general rule for image processing/editing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pintree3, May 17, 2012.

  1. pintree3 macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2009
    When one decides to edit a photograph what do people use as a rule of thumb to know what to do 1st.
    Assuming one will change contrast, do something to the color, enlarge a photo, use onOne software to create a frame, delete a wire etc.
    What is usually best to do 1st, 2nd, 3d etc.
  2. rpmor macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2012
    i never create frames for my images. otherwise i usually do my weeding out basic editing through Lightroom (i used to do the weeding out in Bridge before getting LR)

    if it needs extensive editing Photoshop. LR can cover about 90% of what a photographer needs, the other 10% comes with more 'advanced' editing namely use of multiple layers and other PS exclusive feature sets thats not present in LR.
  3. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Its going to vary from photographer to photographer, and its really up to personal preference but heres what I do:

    1. Weed out photos and create a list of keepers.
    2. Crop the keepers to my liking.
    3. Remove anomalies (image sensor dust usually).
    4. Adjust sharpness, contrast, saturation and color if need be.
    5. Add vignette to photos if need be.*
    6. Export image for printing/saving.

    *Vignette should be used sparingly and done to enhance the mood of an image or to draw the viewers eye. Basically if you can tell vignette was added, you did it wrong.
  4. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    I always find this sort of post interesting. Having never been taught how to edit photos I like it when someone suggests something that I had never considered before.

    Like others I whittle down the photo's I don't like. Normally by flagging them as rejected in lightroom.

    Then I will crop and correct the exposure. I tend to under expose to maintain definition in the highlights.

    I then try to create a preset for all the similar photo's from the evening/event and normally mess with a combination of saturation, white balance, vibrance and split toning (I like having slightly blueish shadows and I find that split toning is the best way to get this in lightroom. It also has some cool effects when mixed with the white balance).

    I tend to add a vignette to most things and then correct the distortion if any.

    If there are faces in the photo I tend to remove spots and increase the exposure on faces alone by +0.3 so they pop from the picture a bit.

    This is what I generally do although sometimes I will spend much longer on a photo if I'm struggling with it or trying out some different styles.

    One other thing I like doing is when in B&W playing around with the white balance to provide different looks.
  5. EVEnRUDE macrumors newbie

    May 18, 2012
    Editing steps

    1) While importing the photos into your favorite digital darkroom program (I prefer Lightroom 4.1rc2) first scan them for ones that are obviously lousy: out of focus (unless blur is called for), eye blinks, photoswhere the camera was pointed at the ground and shutter tripped accidentally, etc. These I do not import.

    2) During the import process I do three things to automate the common things I always do - saving bunches of time.

    -A) rename to a unique name. Try something like "first intial + last name_YYYYMMDD-#####". a name like "DSC_####" isn't ever going to help you or anyone else find a photo.

    -B) Automatically add metadata about who took the photo and how to contact them (Lr and other programs allow you to set up a template for this). If there is other common metadata for the set of photos like the location or the people in them I'll add that too as keywords and sometimes captions.

    -C) If these are raw photos (I shoot raw 100% of the time but acknowledge and understand that others don't) I apply a basic "capture sharpening" step In Lightroom I use the Landscape (narrow edges) sharpening preset using Lightroom's "lens correction" tool to correct for normal lens defects (distortion) and Chromatic Aberrations.

    3) Start going through the photos, deleting any unusable ones I missed during the import process and giving a basic rating (a white flag) to mark the ones I like. Then after I have gone through the set, I tel lthe program to select only the ones that are flagged. To these I start assigning stars, the ones I like at this stage get one star. If I need to I'll then go though a third and fourth time giving up to three stars. This winnowing helps to narrow the selection or concentrate the mind. Look for images that appeal to the gut and emotions.

    4) Once I have narrowed it down to the few I want, I then start working on the technical aspects. With Lightroom in the Develop module, start at the top of the basic adjustments column and work my way down.

    The goal is to drill down and find the photos that best express the sense of being in the moment, ones you don't have to make excuses for. Gut (Emotions) > Aesthetics (Eye Appeal, a sense of what looks right) > Intellect (idea).
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I use Lr 4, and basically follow the default workflow, which is similar to EVEnRUDE's with a couple of important differences.

    1) Import anything that isn't a photo of the inside of the lense cap or my feet, and sometimes even the feet get imported.
    a) On import, I let Lr keep the camera's file names and use Lr's default folder structure of filing by dates. I add the copyright/creator metadata at this point.
    b) I use key wording on import extensively, and will selectively import from the card in cases where I may have more than one project on a card. Each project is key worded independently.
    c) At this point I either move a project into an existing Collection, or create the Collection(s) it will be filed in. I use Collections instead of a named folder structure and renaming files. I like using Collections because I don't need to decide if an image should appear in Folder A or Folder B - it can appear in both Collections. Same theory for renaming a file... Keywords, Collections, and Captions allow me much more flexibility than just one "name".
    d) Depending on the project I may add more keywords at this point so that certain images will appear in Smart Collections.

    At this point, before I've even really looked at the images, I have them sorted and organized in such a way that I can easily find them again now, and in 5 years.

    2) I start editing. I'm a bit of packrat, and some of my art projects can use less than stellar images, so I don't use the reject flag much.
    a) Instead I do a real quick scan of the images and assign 1 star for anything that isn't total garbage. On the this 1st scan I don't worry about whether it is a good/better/best image - - it's just garbage (no stars) or not garbage (1 star). Even with hundreds of images I can get this step over with very quickly since I'm not thinking at all.
    b) I filter on 1 star, and do basically the same thing but with a slightly higher threshold.... is it good enough to get a 2nd star, or is the image still basically background noise. Since there are far fewer to look at, and I'm still not being too picky, this is also a very quick scan.
    c) Now I filter on 2 stars, and start getting picky. But I'm only looking at a very small subset of images.
    3) I use the colour labels to mark different "steps". So one colour is for images I intend to print. Another one for images that need to go to Photoshop, etc etc. Green is for "all done".
    4) I create temporary project files frequently so that I can keep all images for a project in place. Usually it's a project Set with the Smart Collections inside that.
    5) I use Smart Collections extensively so that I'm only looking at the highly rated images in any project. If I need to look at a less rated image it is still within easy reach, but I'm not looking at these images on a daily basis.

    For Developing I basically go down the Lr Develop panel from top to bottom. Personally, I like the using the Tone Curve.

    I create Virtual Copies as needed. Colour vs BW, or if I need different croppings. That way I can always find all the variations of a particular image in one spot.

    I use Photoshop to edit - when needed (Lr is good for 90%+ of my editing needs). I invoke it from Lr so that when Ps is done with the image it gets catalogued with the original images. I keep meaning to set up a Smart Collection that will only show me Ps edited images.... maybe soon.

    Hope this helps.
  7. pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009
    Not really sure why but I've never got around to renaming my files via LR. Is it safe to rename old files even after I've done some editing?

  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    If you rename it using Lr, then absolutely. If you rename outside of rename then you may need to point Lr at the image when it can't find it. After Lr finds it again everything should be as it was.

    However, why would rename an image? You can simply move images to a Collection. Or you can add a keyword and create Smart Collection for that keyword (or just do a search on the keyword if you only need to find those images rarely). Or you can add some info to the Caption area.

    My point is that it is more work to rename files and figure out the sequencing than it is to use a Keyword or other metadata. Plus, by using the metadata an image can appear in more than one place.

    Just saying....
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    One reason would be so I don't need to open lightroom/aperture to make sense of my files. If you set up a logical filename and folder hierarchy, you will be able to get to the file you want just by viewing them in the finder.

    Having more information encoded in your files for more accessibility in more places is rarely a bad thing, especially since it's trivially easy to do in LR- it just takes a minute or two to set up a naming preset to use when you import your files.

    Also, if you do not rename your camera files, it is possible that you can/will end up with duplicate filenames, if your counter loops back around. Over the span of several years, it is not unheard of to go through more than 10,000 shots (most cameras name using 4 digits, so 10,000 shots later you will get a duplicate filename).
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    OK, fair enough.

    In my case I never touch my photos except through Lr. Since I've generally not renamed my files I wouldn't be able to find them now in any case except through Lr. Partly why I switched fully away from renaming my files and folders was that it seemed like a lot of work trying to fit new projects into an existing naming scheme. I watch a friend of mine, who has a very sophisticated naming scheme, spend days working out how to incorporate a new camera or new field of photography into his scheme so that it all makes sense and sorts according to his needs. It does work for him... but he knows he'll get teased by me as we work it out over a Guinness or two. It just seems like a lot of work to me, that's all. I think he's finally coming 'round. :)

    I hadn't realized that some cameras had that 10,000 limitation. My current digital uses 6 digits and the prior one used 7 digits.

    If someone with 4 digit system asked me for advice I'd just tell them to add a prefix to the camera's image name when the time came.
  11. Doylem, May 19, 2012
    Last edited: May 19, 2012

    Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    If I need to make big changes to pix (in Aperture or Photoshop), I reckon there must be something wrong with my technique. Composition, for example: I like to get it right before pressing the shutter, rather than looking to crop my way to a better image in Aperture. Exposure: much the same. I try to ensure I don’t have impenetrable shadows, or over-exposed highlights, that require dramatic PP work.

    I could probably automate my routine in Aperture, but I like to deal with each pic individually (I don’t automate anything at the camera stage, so I can’t see why I would automate any actions when I’m editing). On raw files I’ll typically increase colour saturation and contrast, but not by much... and maybe open up the shadows a little. I’ll straighten the horizon, if necessary.

    I sell pix through online photo libraries, so the next step (for pix I submit) is to scrutinise the image at 100%, in Photoshop... to zap dust-spots, make minor cosmetic changes (a piece of litter in the foreground of a landscape, say) and check for critical focus... at least on the area where it should be in focus. While in Photoshop I may ‘correct’ buildings that ‘lean’ (but not to the point where it looks over-done). If any cropping is needed, I’ll do it last... before saving the ‘improved’ version of the pic, alongside the master image in Aperture, and exporting the image as a jpeg to a folder on my desktop, reading to be uploaded to a photo library...
  12. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    I use Aperture 3.2.3, which lacks lens distortion correction. If such distortion is really noticeable, I edit in Photoshop.

    First, whittle down your library to only good keepers. Having hated cropping photos since long ago, I tend to have high standards when picking my keepers. What you should look for when choosing are blur, focus error, and any other permanent errors. Don't let color distortion and incorrect exposure discourage you.

    Second, I straighten out the photo and devignette them. I don't really like vignetting my photos for an "artsy" effect.

    Third, I correct the white balance (or apply a custom white balance to my liking). Here's where your choice of keepers come in handy. Since you can always correct any color errors in PP, they no longer matter. Also, I modify the RAW settings to my liking.

    Fourth, I work on the exposure and color correction. This is a relatively simple process, as it mostly involves fiddling with the curves and saturation/vibrance bars.

    Fifth, brush out any impurities like dust, water droplets (if they can be corrected), facial blemishes, etc.

    Sixth, I crop if necessary and name the photo. I like how Aperture organizes my photos into projects rather than Lightroom's date based system. It keeps things simple.

    Seventh, I open the image in Photoshop if I really want to keep it. Usually if a photo gets to this step, it's no longer considered a keeper.

    As you'll notice these aren't really major edits. I try not to do much in PP as to modifying the photo. Rather, I try to restore the photo back to what it looked like in real life.

    (hopefully Aperture 4 will have in-house distortion correction which I would absolutely love)
  13. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    For those of you who keyword, I would love to hear more on what keyword strategies you use.

    I have tried to keyword my pictures, but honestly I have found relatively little need. When importing I usually keyword all shots from a particular shoot the same, including the place, perhaps a theme (like apartment pics), etc. But I don't get down to labeling every photo with a unique set of keywords like "red", or "flowers", or "Billy" (if Billy is in the picture), etc.

    Haven't really had problems finding photos though, as mentioned above I use a folder system to organize my shots, and when I think about pictures I usually think in the context of "I want to see pictures of my camping trip last fall" and so I just go to that folder. Within each folder I do use LR's "pick" flag, star ratings, stacking, and color labels to organize the pictures though. For example I label all my stitched panos with blue (and then all images in that stitch get stacked under it), so I can easily filter for them within a given set. I do the same for HDR exposures using the red color label.

    Under this system I have never had problems finding the picture(s) I am looking for. Maybe it's because I don't have a super extensive library, or just this system of organization lends itself well to the way I think. Just never found a real pressing need for extensive keywording. However I have been curious to know if it would benefit my workflow.
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I think a lot depends on what you do with your photos. I do commercial work, and I also combine photos into fine art. Sometime several photos will be combined into one image, or many photos will become a book or a series.

    Honestly, for the commercial work, I don't do a lot of keywording. If I do multiple jobs for single client I will put the client's name as a keyword, and the "Object" I photographed for them. For the most part I just pull all of their images into a single collection, sometimes organized by dates.

    However, for my personal and art stuff I keyword extensively.

    For instance, for my Aunt Bev... she gets the keywords "Bev", "[her surname]", "Family", and "Place Name", plus the event if applicable. As well, anyone else who appears in the photo.

    If I want to browse all of my family photos... I search on "Family". If I want to browse all of the Christmas trips... easy. If I want to browse every photo that my wife appears in regardless of dates or events...I search on her name. So now a photo of my Aunt Bev, at Christmas, with my wife is in searchable several different ways. I don't have to decide if I want to slot that photo into Christmas, or Family, or Aunt Bev, or my wife. It is, in effect, slotted into all of them. I can also search for all photos where my Aunt Bev and my wife appeared together, regardless of the event. In this case I don't have to remember which times she visited us, and when we visited her. I just search on Bev and my wife's name.

    For my art stuff I have a system that allows me to pull out the themes and subjects. Different keywords for different people. There are some really good articles on the Adobe site on keywording strategies, and I become a believer after spending an afternoon reading. My library is not huge but it goes back a number of years and I can't rely on my memory as much as I would like. Plus I hated deciding where a photo went when it could go in several different spots. I used to make copies, but then I'd get frustrated trying to find the one I had cropped, rather than the duplicate.

    One trick to keywording in Lr is that you can nest keywords. So...


    If I add the keyword Bev, it will also add {surname} and Family to the image. You can also create synonyms. So Canine = Dog .... use one and the other is added as well. Works well in situations where you something has two names and you can't remember which name you like to use.

    Hope this helps.
  15. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    My steps are as follow
    Import into LightRoom and keyword the images
    cull out the rejects and rate the keepers (some images are good but not a 5 star if you know what I mean)
    Crop if need be
    Adjust the sharpness, contrast, saturation and color
    Export to the desired medium (web/print/etc)
  16. pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009
    I really need to go back and add keywords to my old sets in LR. This should be fun. :rolleyes:
  17. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I do it right off the bat as that's how I categorize my images. I keep things in only a few sub folders and use keywords to drive my collections
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Mostly I agree. If you can see it,then you've added to much. Ansel Adams wrote a book (actually several books) on print making and he said he darkens the edges of every print. He did it in the darkroom by burning in the edges. He had a good theory about why this helps but also said not to over do it.

    OK, my "process" is ru in Apple's Aperture

    1) Delete the junk

    2) Crop the image (and choose a shape. Some times I'll make them square or2:3 or some times really wide. It all depends. I really keep the standard aspect ratio.

    3) Adjust shadows and highlights, white balance, saturation and about a dozen other fine tune type controls

    4) At this point the basic adjustments are done and we start any "editing" like removing trash or a utility pole or skin defects or yellow from teeth. Call it "touch up work" All of this required a Wacom pad and pressure sensitive pen. All this is done in Photoshop

    5) Sharpening and edge darkening then export in the required format. This is done in Aperture
  19. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    A piece of advice I read that I liked was to mentally write a caption for the photo. For example, "This is Sam Bellows in front of giant cedar tree in Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada." The keywords are then "Sam Bellows; Cedar; (or perhaps 'Giant Cedar', or perhaps 'Giant ; Cedar' depending on your needs) Cathedral Grove; Vancouver Island; BC; Canada;

    Different people would alter that accordingly. Some people need the proper latin name, for instance. But the key is the caption. Also, most people take multiple photos of the same thing, or the same people. So the example above may apply to 20 images with "Sam Bellows" removed for some, and/or the addition of Sam's husband's name. But the basic keywording is spread over multiple images. So it may not be as bad as you think. :)
  20. pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009
    Just really not looking forward to going through my old files and sort everything. I have about 50+ folders to go through thats not labeled (keywords). But those are my everyday images. I've managed to use keywords for work that I've done for others (portraits/events).

  21. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    Reading through this thread makes my head spin a bit going through all the possibilities.

    One thing I noted and liked was the rating system some use: rate any "good" ones a 1 star, then upgrade those to 2 stars, and then those remaining to 3 starts, etc. I have done the opposite and it is very hard. But thinking it through, this 1>5 rating system seems a better route.

    I REALLY need to organize better, tag/keyword, and see about fully switching from iPhoto to Aperture as I had, as of yet, not moved the whole iPhoto collection, just new photos.
  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Can I assume that each of the folders are named for an event or a person, or something like that? If so, there is your 1st keyword. Import just that one folder into Lr or Aperture and add that single keyword.

    Create a Smart Album or Smart Collection that searches on that keyword. Total time... 5 minutes for a folder - and afternoon to do all 50 folders. What you've now done is replicated the functionality of the original named folders. Start using the Smart Albums/Collections to find your photos - it will work exactly like before. Except, as you work with your images you can add keywords.... just the images you are working with already and perhaps the related ones. So, for example, if you look for a New Year's Eve party photo with Ken in the folder called "New Year's Eve" you might add the keyword "Ken" to that photo plus all the 3 others taken at the same time.

    Do this for a bit, just poking away at things as you can, and you will find that the photos start becoming much easier to find. You want a photo of Ken? Do a search for Ken and you get the New Year's Eve Party, the Stanley Cup BBQ, and that camping trip you had forgotten about to Schooner Cove.

    I often go back and think of new keywords to add to photos that I've already worked with.
  23. pintree3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2009
    editing steps

    Have been busy the last few days so couldnt come back here and reply-- 1st of all thanks to all of you--really. having said that I find it interesting how many people replied here and all of them do not answer my question (no hard feelings here). What happened, in my view is the 1st person misunderstood the question and then everyone replied or made comments according to that.
    I had asked, "When one decides to edit a photograph" in others words, selecting which photos to discard and which to keep and how to go about it is something that is done before one gets to my point, the editing. The question focused on this; In other words after you have done everything u like to do and how u like to do it to organize your photos, and after you have chosen which ones u think perhaps need some editing/ retouching then, at this point what are the steps. For ex. on the Nik software page this is what they suggest (which answers my question): The order of steps involved in enhancing an image varies, depending on the image. In general, there are only a few guidelines to consider:

    - Apply noise reduction, such as with Nik Software Dfine® 2.0, as
    early as possible in the process.

    - Apply RAW Presharpening, if desired, with Nik Software
    Sharpener Pro 3.0’s RAW Presharpener filter.

    - Apply light and color enhancements
    with Nik Software Viveza™ (global, then local), and end with
    enhancements using Nik Software Color Efex Pro™ 3.0 or
    Nik Software Silver Efex Pro™ .

    - Apply output and creative sharpening
    with Nik Software Sharpener Pro 3.0’s Output Sharpener filter.

    To the above, to "The order of steps involved in enhancing an image varies, depending on the image. " the only question I would have is, 'depending on what facts of the image? the size, the format, the quality??? the what?

    thanks again
  24. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    Well...that's a very subjective question to answer. It all depends on how YOU want to interpret the photo. There is no set way to really edit a photo to your liking. No magical formula, no standard process. Each photo is a piece of art in its own right, and it should be treated that way.
    There is no set factors that dictate how a photo should look or how it should be enhanced.

    All enhancements should be made AFTER cropping and framing. You wouldn't want a cut-off vignette because you applied it to your photo before a 2:1 crop.
  25. pintree3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2009
    Prodo123 u r absolutely right,
    In looking at your answer u helped me realize something. I had left out an important detail that would probably help in answering my question much better.
    There are many things in the editing process, all things actually which depend on personal tastes and needs.
    I was asking my question with one thing and only one thing in mind. the quality of the end result--the details. IN other words, what I mean is once a photo has been worked on or not, the minute it is changed from raw to jpg or from dsp to jpeg there is a loss in quality due to compression. Since there are many things which can be done to a photo which will assist in this loss of quality (since not every plugin, every editing feature is lossless) then every time things are done (added, subtracted, altered in whatever way) then there is a possibility of loss of quality. It was with this in mind that I had asked my question--best steps (as a rule of thumb only) to to have the least loss of quality.
    thanks for helping btw.

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