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| p.1 #1 · Processing for believability. |
Since our camera rawís donít capture the scene as we see it in person, we are forced to work the image in post processing. I would prefer to have a believable result, but in recent times have drifted towards over enhancement.
This insight was a direct result of the following post where I got some ideas about how to achieve more realistic processing. The big help was from comments on my images being over saturated and Kentís help with color correction.
I returned to that scene and shot another blah morning when the sun did not appear. But it was part of a learning thing for me. After each set of brackets, I looked at the neutral image on the LCD and compared it with what I was seeing before my eyes. The display is set for Landscape and gentle boost of contrast. The image on the LCD seemed a good match to the scene in all but DR. This gave me a standard to shoot for.
My brackets were -2/3, 0, +2/3. I blended them after conversion with no boost in ACR other than to add 20% shadow recovery on the 0 and +2/3 image. I use a process called Gaussian blur to blend, it can be found here.
I next found and marked with the color sample eyedropper the darkest and lightest point in the image and using curves, moved it to a range roughly between 6-7 and 250. Then I ran a linear curve.
Using color balance, I set the shadows values to 5,5,5 and the highlight values to 254,254,254. This brightens the image a bit and increases depth as it creates a good black point. During testing the process with many images, I find I need to be selective on the bright values to preserve a natural blue or red atmosphere. But generally this works. The white point is generally but not always neutral. The dark usually is blue biased and near a value of 15 or 20 average, making it 5,5,5 always improves the image in my opinion.
Image one is the result. A bit dark and not enough saturation in my estimate.
Next I run a saturation action which I wonít describe here, I also tried Topaz Color Pop which was nearly the same. You could use your favorite method. The idea is to add a bit of saturation to the image.
This tends to boost the darker values and bump the black point up a few points, so I return to color balance and adjust back to 5,5,5.
I then sharpen as follows. 12,50,1 in smart sharpen, then USM 300,0.3,0. Both merged to one layer and faded to 70%. ISO100 shots do not require selective sharpening.
The second image is the product.
3 images blended curved and color corrected.
add saturation recorrect color and sharpen