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Digital Editing Info

What will be coming in the days and weeks ahead are insights that I'll share with you from my 30 + years of image making. On these pages we'll focus on issues more to do with digital image editing including RAW processing, noise reduction, levels and curves adjustments for proper detail, color correction, etc.

Prior to starting a high quality editing session it is wise to make sure that your system is calibrated. Several well known tools exist for the photographer. We need to have a way to see what we really have. the old days we made sure we had a color corrected lightbox. Today our lightbox is the monitor. Once we have it calibrated we can begin to integrate it into the process. For additional information on system calibration, follow this link to a complete discussion on that aspect of the digital workflow.

The current version of Adobe's premiere image editor is CS5 ext. I am one version behind at CS4 ext. This will be used for most of the discussion concerning image editing although I will include some use of CS3 ext as well with an occasional tutorial available using Elements.

Lightroom 3.3 is another very handy tool for many photographers. I have been using it since beta 2 pre public release, so some 5 years. (wow! time flew by) In addition to using LR, I also use Capture NX2. Why use it if I have LR? Well there is some controversy about the DNG format vs the original camera makers native formats. So to be sure that the best is coming out of the process, I do use NX2 for my NEF files. I also use Canon DPP for customer CR files when needed.

The steps in the process are to download the images off your memory card unless you shoot tethered. During downloading or ingesting your images, you should make a copy off your card and put them into a file system that makes sense. At some point it also makes sense to make a DVD or back up of image files since thy offer another set of original quality file in case you have an HD failure. The downloaded files can be put in by date, shoot, type and date, etc. There is no one best answer because we all think a little different. however, that doesn't mean it makes sense to have 5, 10 or or different filing systems. What might work for me and my situation might not work for you. I shoot, scan and do this for myself as well as for customers.

Here is my normal workflow:

  • download into LR catalog by date shot with the addition of appropriate keywords to as many of the images as they might apply including copyright information
  • delete bad images
  • make basic adjustments based on color checker card reading or from whibal card
  • come back to images later and review and which time I may put a star rating on them but that is based on type of shoot
  • continue adding and appending keywords and write them to the files so that your images can be accessed by as many possible search ideas that you might have - date, image content, purpose, etc

Process vs Pixel Editing

Processing my image files takes several steps. I do a lot of landscape shoot and those shoot require a different process workflow than a studio portrait shoot. In the studio I might have several different lighting set ups, but within each set up the exposure rarely vary. Within a landscape shoot I might do more bracketing or grab shots depending on what elements are present in the scene.

From LR ( shorthand for Lightroom) I prepare the file to achieve a high quality of color, tonal values, sharpness, and crop. For specific correction at a pixel level I still use Photoshop (PS) for those adjustments. So from LR, I use the edit in command. I use that function instead of export to, because I generally work on 1 image maybe 2 at a time. Remember I do landscape and highly interpretive work. When I do portraits and I am preparing a batch for client review this workflow changes quite a bit. So let's head off to PS and see what happens;

  • with PS already open the file appears ready for editing out of LR
  • make a copy of the background layer with a command J
  • run NW (Imagenomic Noiseware Professional)
  • add a set of correction layers - level, curves
  • add a background copy with NW applied to run additional effects on from one of several plug ins including Flaming Pear, Nik, or Topaz.

I then do a 'save as', not a save since the 'save as' clears memory, as well as having done that several times in the editing process.

Information will be posted in video tutorials with an occasional PDF with step by step instructions. I currently have just a few up and available for viewing. If there is a specific topic you would like to see send a request and I'll see if I can get one done on that.

Noise Reduction Tutorial

Retouch with Before and After

The next step in the process is output.