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Archive 2010 · Post Processing Techniques
  
 
ewadler
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Post Processing Techniques


I am not so great at post processing and I have come to really appreciate the PP techniques of the folks here in the Alt forum, as you guys try not to process so much, that the unique style of the lenses showcased here are preserved, but at the same time, the shots look great!

It would be great if some of you would share your fantastic techniques and/or workflows to process an image with me. Some discussion of techniques have come up recently, sharpening (in the Z* image thread) and others. It would be great to aggregate such ideas here. And I notice here and there, various folks asking one of the alt fm'ers how they processed an image, and I am usually curious as well.

So, if anyone wants to just share, or if you don't want to disrupt the topic of a thread, please share your pp techniques here. I would really like to know what software you used and maybe an image or two to help the tutorial, or at maybe just a before and after shot. But, if you are busy, a step by step is better than nothing.

Also, if you have a fantastic web tutorial that you often reference or got you started, please post links.

Edited on Sep 15, 2010 at 04:24 AM · View previous versions



Sep 14, 2010 at 05:42 PM
Paul Yi
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Post Processing Techniques


Great Idea....
I am poor in PP as well, and I could use some informative tips....
I am interested in sharpening process.
I'd really appreciate if someone could share some sort of 'action' files ...



Sep 14, 2010 at 07:05 PM
AhamB
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Post Processing Techniques


Paul Yi wrote:
Great Idea....
I am poor in PP as well, and I could use some informative tips....
I am interested in sharpening process.
I'd really appreciate if someone could share some sort of 'action' files ...


It's probably better if you make your own action files, because then you'll become more familiar with the individual operations, which will make it easier for you to adjust them. Adjusting them will definitely be necessary because you will not want to process every picture identically. Having your processing routines (such as sharpening) in actions helps a lot though because then you can quickly perform some of the operations that you want, and skip others or double click on ones that you want to adjust. It's a lot quicker than going through the menus every time.



Sep 14, 2010 at 07:25 PM
rdst
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Post Processing Techniques


A good method is to look at itunes under the podcast section. There are few very good podcasts concerning CS4/5 or Lightroom, for example Rich Harrington or other. You will get 1 or 2 6 to 10 min long podcast per week, thats not too much and learning by doing is the best way.

Rolf



Sep 14, 2010 at 08:47 PM
denoir
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Post Processing Techniques


I'm by no means an expert and what I say applies only to Zeiss glass so it's not general.

1. Colors & Contrast

In my experience images taken with Zeiss glass are best processed as little as possible. When I use Canon glass, I need as a rule to bump contrast, vibrance and clarity in post to make the image usable.

Example, unprocessed & processed Canon:













What I've done here is rotated the image a bit to level the horizon, increased vibrance (+30), black clipping (+7) and clarity (+100).

If I was to do that to a Zeiss image, the result would be very bad. Example (unprocessed first)













Apart from the overcooked colors look at the rocks in the foreground - the clarity added in Lightroom has completely killed off the fine detail.

So in my experience a good rule when dealing with Zeiss images is don't touch the clarity slider.

There is in fact only one major color correction action that I can recommend and that's setting the white balance. When shooting in evening light or at night it gives creative options without compromising the integrity of the image rendering.

Example:

In-camera white balance:






Custom white balance set so that white is really white:






Which one is "real" is debatable. The first one looks more like I saw it but the second one represents more the true colors of the scene as it would have looked under neutral light.

2. Sharpening & Resizing

While color correction is fairly irrelevant for PP:ing Zeiss images, sharpening when resizing is very important. Do not use Photoshop's default bicubic resize as it will destroy all the finer detail in the image by averaging surrounding pixels. Again this is a thing much more important with Zeiss images than for instance Canon. It's always good to sharpen when resizing but it is really critical when using Zeiss glass.

Example - I suggest opening the two images in different tabs in the browser and flipping between them:

Photoshop bicubic:






My script:






So what's my script? First, I want to advise against taking it as a solution for everything. I'd say that it works perhaps with 75% of my shots. In the other shots some form of manual intervention is required as the image can get over or under sharpened. Bokeh and background blur can be a problem. Furthermore I have experimented very little beyond my initial script which was vaguely based on one by Samuli. I have not tried to improve upon it which I'm sure can be done. I would more recommend Samuli's source material.

Also worth adding is that Makten has demonstrated that it can be beneficial to just sharpen the L channel in LAB mode rather than to apply sharpening in RGB mode. If you do it in the L channel you won't amplify color noise and CA.

Anyway, my standard resize script looks like this (landscape photos, 1024px target width):
1. Sharpen
2. Sharpen
3. Image Size, Width=3000px
4. Unsharp Mask, 150%, Radius 0.5 Pixels
5. Image Size, Width=2000px
6. Smart Sharpen, Amount 77%, Radius 0.3 Pixels
7. Image Size, Width = 1024px

If I feel that I need to, I add a Smart Sharpen 100%, radius 0.2 pixels at the end as well. All resize operations in the script are "Bicubic standard".

I based mine on a script posted by Samuli but chances are his original is better:
http://www.vahonen.com/temppi/stepsharpening.pdf

That's it for my PP basically. I on occasion set the white balance in Lightroom, export the image to photoshop and do a resize & sharpen. If my script produces bad results I go in manually and see if I can fix it.








Edited on Sep 15, 2010 at 05:57 AM · View previous versions



Sep 14, 2010 at 09:19 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Post Processing Techniques


For posting to the web I use one of several Photoshop scripts. For printing or PP where the image won't be scaled I use CaptureOne. Here's a grab of the most used PS script:



And I usually adjust the Fade levels by hand as it's different for each image - including occasionally 0% (no affect at all). Files are brought in from RAW through ACR where I also move a few sliders around.





Sep 14, 2010 at 09:31 PM
bluetsunami
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Post Processing Techniques


Curve adjust in a RAW program
Rescale in Photoshop (for Web viewing its usually 1024x or 800x on the long end, depending how its oriented)
Smart sharpen
Save as JPEG



Sep 14, 2010 at 09:41 PM
ewadler
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Post Processing Techniques


rdst wrote:
A good method is to look at itunes under the podcast section. There are few very good podcasts concerning CS4/5 or Lightroom, for example Rich Harrington or other. You will get 1 or 2 6 to 10 min long podcast per week, thats not too much and learning by doing is the best way.

Rolf


Rolf, thanks, I didn't think to look for podcasts.



Sep 15, 2010 at 04:23 AM
ewadler
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Post Processing Techniques


Luka, wow, thanks that is exactly what I was looking for. (I was hoping you might post something). And you went above and beyond, I think we can end the thread right there! No, just kidding, I hope people keep posting.

Please keep 'em coming.



Sep 15, 2010 at 04:32 AM
ewadler
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Post Processing Techniques


Bifurcator wrote:
For posting to the web I use one of several Photoshop scripts. For printing or PP where the image won't be scaled I use CaptureOne. Here's a grab of the most used PS script:
...
And I usually adjust the Fade levels by hand as it's different for each image - including occasionally 0% (no affect at all). Files are brought in from RAW through ACR where I also move a few sliders around.



I haven't actually used a script before in PS (I am embarrassed to say), I will try this as my first.



Sep 15, 2010 at 04:33 AM
 

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ewadler
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Post Processing Techniques


bluetsunami wrote:
Curve adjust in a RAW program
Rescale in Photoshop (for Web viewing its usually 1024x or 800x on the long end, depending how its oriented)
Smart sharpen
Save as JPEG


If you get a chance, can I see a before and after?

thx.



Sep 15, 2010 at 04:34 AM
bluetsunami
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Post Processing Techniques


Here's a before and after...





The first shot is just the Standard Picture Style in DPP, no sharpening, no contrast adjust (or tone curve adjust). I just exported to Photoshop, resized and saved (no sharpening there either). The second is using the exact processing steps I posted but I used the Faithful Picture Style in DPP (like the colors better from that style, in general).

Edited on Sep 15, 2010 at 05:09 AM · View previous versions



Sep 15, 2010 at 05:05 AM
anotherview
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Post Processing Techniques


General advice: Learn Adobe Camera Raw. You can do most of the post-processing here, including noise reduction and sharpening (although these latter two may need more in Photoshop). ACR has many sliders for adjusting color, and each one controls for hue, saturation, and luminance. You can do curves in ACR, and highlight recovery, and spot removal. ACR now has a very smart lens correction function, all but eliminating the need to adjust images manually for CA.

In CS5, use the Shadows and Highlights adjustments. The sliders therein can dramatically change the image for the better. The April 2010 issue of Popular Photography contains a very useful article on setting the black and white points in an image using the Levels and Threshold adjustments (Page 48). Use the Select > Color Range adjustment (http://photo.net/learn/digital-photography-workflow/advanced-photoshop-tutorials/advanced-masking/). Jay Kinghorn explains how to improve skies with this adjustment.

Read books and magazines. Attend a workshop or two. Go online to Web sites like photo.net, where you may learn for free.

Take a lot of pictures. Learn from your mistakes. Your skills and images will improve.



Sep 15, 2010 at 05:09 AM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Post Processing Techniques


denoir wrote:
Anyway, my standard resize script looks like this (landscape photos, 1024px target width):
1. Sharpen
2. Sharpen
3. Image Size, Width=3000p
4. Unsharp Mask, 150%, Radius 0.5 Pixels
5. Image Size, Width=2000px
6. Smart Sharpen, Amount 77%, Radius 0.3 Pixels
7. Image Size, Width = 1024px


Luka, typically for step sharpening you want to avoid "easy scaling" meaning to avoid 2 pixels to 1 pixels or 3 pixels to 2 pixels kind of "easy" aliasing scenarios. This is because when doing this and sharpening in between there is tendency that halos and other artifacts get stronger. Thou I have not experienced with using USM and smart sharpen between steps.

I don't have my MacPro now available but I think my current script uses intermediate size 3800px, 3000px and 2200px when going to 975px. However I have at least 10 old versions of the script and for some images I use some of them.


Like you say one should not touch the Clarity (Lightroom)/Definition (Aperture) slider when dealing with Zeiss images. However for low contrast lenses like Olympus OM lenses they are very good tool to get some "punch" to the images.

I often use small amounts of recovery and highlight sliders in Apple Aperture. This will give more shape and texture to clouds and other bright objects.

Samuli



Sep 15, 2010 at 05:43 AM
rattymouse
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Post Processing Techniques


denoir wrote:
\
Anyway, my standard resize script looks like this (landscape photos, 1024px target width):
1. Sharpen
2. Sharpen
3. Image Size, Width=3000px
4. Unsharp Mask, 150%, Radius 0.5 Pixels
5. Image Size, Width=2000px
6. Smart Sharpen, Amount 77%, Radius 0.3 Pixels
7. Image Size, Width = 1024px

If I feel that I need to, I add a Smart Sharpen 100%, radius 0.2 pixels at the end as well.



What is step 1 and 2? What does just "sharpen" mean here? What settings and what type of sharpening?

I swear, I have no idea how folks dream up these complicated methods. It is really quite bewildering. Thank goodness most folks share their methods.




Sep 15, 2010 at 05:46 AM
surf monkey
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Post Processing Techniques


denoir wrote:
While color correction is fairly irrelevant for PP:ing Zeiss images, sharpening when resizing is very important. Do not use Photoshop's default bicubic resize as it will destroy all the finer detail in the image by averaging surrounding pixels.

Anyway, my standard resize script looks like this (landscape photos, 1024px target width):
1. Sharpen
2. Sharpen
3. Image Size, Width=3000px
4. Unsharp Mask, 150%, Radius 0.5 Pixels
5. Image Size, Width=2000px
6. Smart Sharpen, Amount 77%, Radius 0.3 Pixels
7. Image Size, Width = 1024px


You said not to use bicubic resize, but what do you use?



Sep 15, 2010 at 05:50 AM
denoir
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Post Processing Techniques


Samuli: Regarding intermediate sizes - that definitely makes sense. Aliasing is a commonly occurring problem when doing a series of resizes - especially with diagonal lines. I'll have to try that.

Rattymouse: Sharpen is the "Sharpen" function in Photoshop. It has no settings and can shockingly enough be found under the "Filter->Sharpen" menu.

This is what the action looks like, if you prefer it on this form:










Sep 15, 2010 at 05:53 AM
denoir
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Post Processing Techniques


surf monkey wrote:
You said not to use bicubic resize, but what do you use?


I use bicubic resize.

You should not use it going from the source to target resolution and then posting your image. You should use it as an intermediate step when it will be followed by sharpening or when it is the last step in a multiple stage sharpening process.



Sep 15, 2010 at 05:56 AM
erichard
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Post Processing Techniques


One thing to consider is selective sharpening. IMHO, you do not want to sharpen objects in the photo that either suffer with extra sharpening (like a woman's complexion, perhaps), or objects that were never meant to be sharpened in the first place (such as out of focus regions, or sky, or homogenous tones, etc.). If you sharpen the latter areas, you just magnify noise and artifact. By selectively sharpening, the sharp regions will appear even more sharp in contrast to the softer areas of the photo. In Lightroom, use the adjustment brush, and in Photoshop, consider layers with masking. I think if you have a large depth of field landscape, like Denoir's example, then stronger use of ACR's capabilities are nearly sufficient, as the newer versions essentially incorporate what people used to do in LAB mode, only much more easily and without conversions of modes, that would have introduced artifact, etc., fractionally with each conversion. So if only a smidgeon of the photo is meant to be in crisp focus, why sharpen at all with the global sliders?

With jpegs, I still use the old LAB mode of sharpening the lightness channel, with both high amount low radius, and low amount, high radius, fading the opacity a bit for each. And then I mask my sharpening as needed.



Sep 15, 2010 at 06:03 AM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Post Processing Techniques


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
Luka, typically for step sharpening you want to avoid "easy scaling" meaning to avoid 2 pixels to 1 pixels or 3 pixels to 2 pixels kind of "easy" aliasing scenarios. This is because when doing this and sharpening in between there is tendency that halos and other artifacts get stronger. Thou I have not experienced with using USM and smart sharpen between steps.


If you mean what I think you mean just use the scale "Best For Smooth Gradients" and you'll never have to worry about that. That's Bicubic by the way. Scaling with "Best For Reduction" is just nasty! It causes all kinds of problems - like you're describing here for example. It's OK if that's all you're doing to an image but if you're also applying sharpening, or curves, or etc. then it more often than not causes unwanted artifacts.

Also like erichard says and is shown in my script, sharpening only the Lightness channel in Lab mode helps tremendously!

Here's the actual script if you want to install it. Just uncheck the items you don't have the plugins for or open the script (in PS), double click on the steps in question and change them to the plugin set you do have. There's only two Topaz plug-ins tho: DeNoise and Detail. You can also use this method to change location for the saves too - as I doubt people have a system named "Tess".

http://tesselator.gpmod.com/_Text/My%20Quickys.atn





erichard wrote:
One thing to consider is selective sharpening.


Yup, I think you're right. There's many many times where I will stop the script, undo the last sharpening step, and just select what I want sharpened - then continue the script from where it left off. I guess that describes about 25% of the images I edit.



Sep 15, 2010 at 06:57 AM
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