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| p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Lightroom & Photoshop to the Next Level (tips) |
+1 @ Scott on many points.
As to the "next level" ... that's kind of a nebulous concept/attribute without knowing what your objectives are for your processing and your goals for your image(s).
For me, I pick out a technique (say WB, sharpening, masking, etc.) and strive to improve my command & control over it. IMO, there are some aspects of "next level" that are really en vogue (say HDR or compositing, skin smoothing, etc.) that are little interest to me, but others find them to be a worthy milestone to embark upon @ trying to stay trendy or current, whereas I strive more toward technical control than popular.
In that regard, I think if you could help give at least a little direction to what you consider to be YOUR "next level" that you want to take things, then others might be able to chime in a little better.
As noted, much goodness (styling variances noted). For me, I am an advocate of "What's the point?"or "What is the message that you want to convey to your audience/viewer(s)?" ... and let that be a guiding force for how to proceed with your processing.
Imo, there are lot of cool, neat, exceptional tips,tricks, techniques and trendy things that can be done, but a LOT OF FOLKS do them as trending or distinction purposes. That can get a lot of "Oooh's & Ahhh's" ... but, imo if they aren't serving your message/point, then they can be a matter of look at my cool processing (which has its own merits), moreover than aiding your message ... unless your message is about "cool" stuff. Increasingly more skillful application of the tenets of the fundamentals (scale, mass, tonal values, sat/desat, sharp/blur, hue, etc.) are the "next level" that I advocate ... but that's boring stuff that doesn't usually excite too many folks among the masses.
I advocate a study of master painters to learn how they applied the tenets of their craft. If you think about it, once we enter into LR/PS, we are embarking on digital painting to finish from where the camera made the sketch to what our vision for our image is. Understanding what I'm trying to achieve relative to how I want to influence/massage my capture into my message is the level that aspire to. If your "tips, tricks & techniques" are already allowing you to do that ... then they are serving you well. From that you are adding to your arsenal/palette/array. Just depends on your objectives which direction you want to go with your craftsmanship.
Sometimes an image is the way you want it sooc, other times you can work on it for decades as your processing/vision develops (e.g. AA). If it only takes two minutes to get it where you want it, then so be it. Whether it be a "decisive moment" capture or the Sistine Chapel ... the element of "time to produce" really isn't a determining gauge of the level of your craftsmanship, but having the command & control to produce your piece as you envision it (and can withstand scrutiny) is. For me, "next level" is about degree's of refinement in command & control to presenting your message.