Workflow

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abby
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Workflow

Postby abby » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:05 am

White balance was mentioned over on the Crtique thread which made me think of how I process RAW files. I need to pay more attention to white blance......that is one of the huge benefits of shooting RAW to begin with! I would like to learn what is your typical workflow when processing your images......espcially your RAW files. What is the first step you do? I would think it makes sense to adjust white blance first? From there, what is your typical workflow? I use Photoshop CS3 by the way.
Also, one other question. I have a mental block and a fear of layers. I would like to get some help with this. If I were to post an image, would any of you be interested in teaching me step by step how to work on the image using layers and masks? Al has worked with me in the past on this.......but it just didn't stick with me. I need more instruction and practice. Do you think I could find it here?
Thanks!!!
Carol


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Re: Workflow

Postby deaner1971 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:04 pm

Abby,

Could the layer lesson please be public?

I have the same blockage/phobia on layers. Granted, I am using PE9 (and moving to LR3) but layers are still an option and one of which I am not availing myself currently.

Thanks.

Dean

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Re: Workflow

Postby autzig » Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:19 pm

My workflow will be different from yours Carol, because you are using CS3 and I'm using CS5. CS5 has some significant improvements in Bridge. That said, I'll comment assuming CS3. When I double click a photo in Bridge it opens in Adobe Camera Raw. That's where I move the temperature sliders to adjust for any white balance issues. I might also adjust for saturation, although I prefer to do that in Photoshop.

When I open a file in Photoshop, I first use the clone tool or (Content Aware in CS5) to remove any dust spots or any other junk I want to remove. I then make a crop if I think the photo needs one. Then I save the new file. Next I duplicate the background layer (CTRL J). It is important to make any adjustments on the duplicate layer because the adjustments are destructive. I usually convert that layer to a smart object. The beauty of a smart object is that you can use a filter for sharpening, or a plug-in to make adjustments and later you can go back and make changes if you want. If you make an adjustment on the layer and later don't like it, you have to delete the layer, duplicate the original layer and make new adjustments.

In my next step, I sharpen the image. Using SHARPEN, UNSHARP MASK, I sharpen twice. The first time I set the amount to 500%, the radius to .3 and threshold to 0. This sharpens the small details. On the same layer I use another UNSHARP MASK, this time setting the amount to about 75% and the radius to .8 - 1.2.

Next I create a CURVES adjustment layer. Hold the ALT key and click on AUTO. This will give you three auto options. I click on the various options and decide if any of them give me a look that I like. I either select one of them or delete that curves layer.

If there is an area of the photo that needs to be made lighter or darker, I create a curves adjustment layer. Using the Eyedropper tool, I CTRL click on the area I want to adjust and a dot will appear on the curves line. I grab that dot and using the up and down arrow keys, increase or decrease the brightness until the area has the appearance I want. (Don't worry about the affect of the adjustment on the rest of the photo.) Photoshop will create a white mask on the CURVES layer. If I only want the adjustment in a small area, I make sure that the background color is set to black. I Press CTRL BACKSPACE. That will fill the curves mask with black and the effect of the adjustment will disappear. Using the BRUSH tool with the Opacity set to 30%, I paint over the area I want to adjust. This will reveal the changes I want only in that area. Because the opacity is set to 30%, I can paint over the area again and again, gradually working in the adjustment. The area on the mask that has been painted will turn white. Remember this: "White reveals, Black conceals."

If I want to make saturation adjustment, I create a saturation adjustment layer. I usually move the saturation slider all the way to the right to see each color and decide what color needs to be adjusted. (Green leaves, for example aren't green, they are really yellow.) After finding what colors I want to saturate, I move the slider back to 0. At the top I click on the drop down box that now says Master. I choose each individual color that I want to adjust. When I'm done, I can use the layer mask to apply the changes only to the areas I want to change. If there are small areas where I don't want to adjust the saturation, I make sure the foreground color is set to black and the opacity to 30%. I then paint over the area to be excluded.

Layers and masks are incredibly powerful tools and you must learn how to use them.

I will be happy to help anyone understand how to use these tools. Try the things I've suggested. If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

Al

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Re: Workflow

Postby Andy » Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:06 pm

Good topic, Carol. And great reply from Al. I cut and pasted it to a text file and will look at how it fits with my own workflow. I ALWAYS learn something from Al every time we have a discussion on photography.

Here is a more "philosophical" response, Carol.

The most important part of workflow, IMO, is that you have one and that it is consistent. As Al points out, your workflow will be dictated by variables, including how you shoot and what software you use. Al and I both strongly recommend you shoot using the camera's native "raw" format. But there are still many photographers (including a fair number of professionals) who shoot in the jpeg format. There will be very different workflows (white balance, for example, is a critical issue for jpeg shooters. IMO, its a non-issue for raw shooters. I never even think about it -- because I know I am going to be able to adust any color temperature issues in either my raw processing software -- I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), or in Lightroom -- I don't use it, yet, for processing. Brandt otoh, uses it now almost exclusively for his intial adustments.

I do some of my sharpening in ACR (based on gurus, Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe's recommendations), and then additional sharpening in PS. Like Al, I use PS5. I haven't ever done the 2-step sharpening process Al uses, but I need to do some testing to see how it might improve my process. I generally sharpen based on the "output" I am creating (i.e., inkjet printers need different sharpening than an small onscreen jpeg for the internet). I always use the "unsharp mask" function for sharpening.

For me the key is a consistent workflow, so you are going through the same checklist of steps, in essentially the same order, every time. Like Al, I open my images initially in ACR. I Look at the image and adjust the color temperature sliders occassionally, to get the look I like. More often than note, I am satisfied with the "as shot" white balance. But the beauty of ACR is that you can change it if necessary.

I next set my white points and black points, looking at the full color histogram and using sliders (exposure for whites, "blacks" for blacks). If you point at the slider and hold down the alt key the image will black out, except for the areas that are being "clipped." You can move the slider until those points just appear and observe the ends of the histogram. There is also a "recovery" slider for blown out whites. I "work" those first. I then make adjustments to the "vibrance" slider (does a contrast boost mainly in the midtones). Seldom, but sometimes, I will make a change to the midtones or brightness sliders.

I next to to the sharpness panel and sharpen globally. I may use the masking slider, depending on the image elements. Finally, I go to the lens panel and correct for my particular lens (Adobe has a database for most popular lenses).

I usually then open the image in PS. Like Al, I look for obvious things that need to be cloned or content-aware adjusted. I crop -- usually for my intended end use, occassionally for "look" (but I try do that in the field). On most of my images I convert to the LAB color space and do a "color separation" curves adjustment I learned from Dan Margulis' book. Sometimes it doesn't add anything to the image.

I do other image adjustments as in PS and when possible I use layers. I like Al's first workflow step, creating a copy of the background layer as the basis for image adjustments and will probably incorporate it into my own workflow.

I usually do my sharpening last.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

abby
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Re: Workflow

Postby abby » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:30 am

deaner1971 wrote:Abby,

Could the layer lesson please be public?

I have the same blockage/phobia on layers. Granted, I am using PE9 (and moving to LR3) but layers are still an option and one of which I am not availing myself currently.

Thanks.

Dean

Yes Dean!!!! I'm glad you want to learn alongside of me. I was hoping that others would want to learn too.
Carol

abby
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Re: Workflow

Postby abby » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:45 am

Al and Andy,
You guys rock and are my heros. :wink: I don't do even half of what you do, and I want to learn so badly. I appreciate you both giving your workflow. Thank you for that. I am not familiar with many of your steps but would love to learn. Everything I do in Photoshop was taught to me by you two and I am forever grateful. But I know we have only scratched the surface. Andy, I do make my workflow in the same order each time, as you have taught me. I also use Nik software Viveza which allows me to use the focus points to work on a certain part of an image. For example, I used Viveza to help me work on both the sky and the darker rocks, and the lighthouse itself in my sample image on Dean's post. I find this helpful because I don't do layers and this helps me to get what I need without using layers.
I would love to see an original image posted here with a step by step example....broken down in very basic terms.......using layers. Should I post one of my images here to work with or do one of the teachers want to post one of their original images? It's a busy week with Thanksgiving. I can post an image next week when I have more time to spend on the computer if you want.
Looking forward to learning. I have a lot to learn.
Carol

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Re: Workflow

Postby Andy » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:31 am

I think professor Al is probably best for this exercise, as he uses layers much better and more effectively than I do. I tend to be kind of lazy with most of my images, which are prepped for my website or other online purposes. I don't do much out of the box with most of them. Just a bit of contrast boost, setting of white and black point, color correction if necessary and sharpening. I often do it all on the same layer, because I am working with a small, jpeg file being prepped for my website only. When I am prepping an image for print, or if it needs work, then I'll use layers.

It is a BAD and LAZY "mo." I am pretty sure Al's workflow is more complete and logical than mine.

Having said that, I think your idea is a great one. Al? Your image, my image or Carols? Are you up to the challenge? :mrgreen:
Andy

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autzig
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Re: Workflow

Postby autzig » Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:10 pm

I thought about trying to create some kind of training for those wanting to learn more about adjustment layers but I first did a Youtube search. I think this video is a very good first lesson.

Watch it and I'll respond to any questions.

Al

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zk4gpNVwPd8

brandtb

Re: Workflow

Postby brandtb » Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:01 am

deaner/carol

I would highly recommend you consider using lynda.com as a resource for learning about layers/adjustment layers etc. etc.. For $25 per month (cancel at any time) you can have access to thousands of video tutorials by the experts in the industry...you can watch them and review them any time - as many times as you like. I have been using Lynda for many years now...and knowing PS as well as I do now...is because of lynda. Deke McClelland one of the PS tutorial instructors is probably THE best PS instructors on the planet...period...and he has many many PS tutorials available (Jan Kabili is good too). If you have something you want to learn specifically you can enter word/phrase in search bar and lynda will give you a list of tutorial options, you can bookmark the ones you like and come back to them any time.

Deaner - lynda has tuts. on LR3 and PE9 as well...I prefer the Luminous Landscape LR3 tutorials though. And note, "non-destructive editing" in LR3 is an entirely different animal than "non-destructive editing" in PS. I mentioned this in another post...but get on LR3...if you make that one of your early learning goals...you are going to put yourself that much further ahead

https://www.lynda.com/home/Registration ... tn_newsite

abby
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Re: Workflow

Postby abby » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:15 pm

Hi Guys,
Sorry for the late reply to this post. I looked at the Youtube video link provided by Al (Thanks Al) but then haven't really followed through with any practice. I have thought about Brandt's suggestion for the Lynda.com thing (Thanks Brandt) but again, haven't taken it any further than a thought.
I'll let you know when I have more questions.
Even D......have you done any layer practice yet????

I was in the camera store today and there was a Nik Software representative doing a demo. I ended up spedning about an hour working with him. I ran out to my car and got a memory card out of my camera and we worked on one of my images using Efex Pro 4. I can show you the before and after if anyone is interested.

Wow.......it was very user friendly and a very easy way to use layers. Any thoughts on this product? Al, I know you have some of the Nik software, don't you?
Carol

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Re: Workflow

Postby deaner1971 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:38 am

Abby, I have only worked with them a little bit. The first time I really shot for "raw material" was this most recent trip to Vermont. I have toyed a bit with using layers to effectively create an HDR shot but nothing polished as of yet. While I was there I shot some post-wedding casual photos of the newlyweds and am working on completing clean-up of those shots so I can upload them to my website and make them available for the families.

As soon as that is done I want to dive back into this. I am also getting better with some of the tools in both PSE and LR3 and look forward to creating some edited shots suitable to be used in this way too. I have also been playing with a demo of Perfect Layers 2 (getting a copy for Christmas) and that seems very straightforward.

Glad to hear that you found software that is working for you. Will give a full review of my PL2 once I feel like I have really put it through its paces.

autzig
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Re: Workflow

Postby autzig » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:26 am

Carol, I have Viveza but I don't use it much because Camera Raw in CS5 has essentially the same functionality. When I got my Wacom tablet, it included a stripped down version of Color Efex Pro. It seemed like a pretty good tool, but it only works with the 32 bit version of Photoshop so I haven't usee it often enough to really make a good evaluation.

Some years ago I attended a weekend workshop with John Shaw. A good share of the workshop dealt with using Photoshop. When I saw what he could do with layers and layer masks, I was blown away. It was those tools that convinced me to buy my first version of PS. You need to learn how to use them. I assure you that you will wish you learned how to use them a long time ago.

Carol, I know you make adjustments to your photos but using layers is so much better for two reasons. The first is that using layers is non-destructive. If you later decide you didn't like what you did, you can go back and adjust it. Secondly, by using masks on your layers, you can limit the adjustment to a particular area.

You must also learn to convert your original layer to a Smart Object. The reason I use smart objects is that if I apply filters like unsharp mask to the original image, it is destructive and can't be undone once the image has been closed. A Smart Object layer will allow you to adjust the effect of a filter anytime.

Al

abby
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Re: Workflow

Postby abby » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:07 pm

Thank you Al. You're correct. It's something I need to learn. I'm not the type of learner who can watch a YouTube video and "get it". I'm just not that kind of learner. I'll have someone sit down with me one of these days to work with me. I'll get it eventually I'm sure.
Carol



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