Workflow demonstration

by Stefan Fletcher April. 25, 2009 4635 views

I know, I'm going over the same picture again and again, but Lookagain mentioned learning and being lazy about post-processing (which her work shows she isn't). I thought I'd show you a workflow. I used two applications on these images: Photoshop CS4 and DxO optics 5.3. A Wacom tablet and stylus makes this much easier. You don't need an expensive one. The camera was a Canon 5D mark II and the lens a 24-70 f/2.8 L.

This isn't intended as a demonstration of the ‘right’ way. There isn't one, and if there were, I wouldn't know what it is. This is just how I went about working towards my end goal. Compare images 1 and 5 in the final “before” and “after” image.

This should convince you of one thing: even a “good” camera like a 5D mk II takes pictures that require work in front of a computer. Go on, I dare you: tell me you prefer the first image after all.

Total editing time: three Haydn sonatas performed by Richter - about 20 minutes. Other tools: one large Scotch.

The RAW file taken straight off the memory card. RAW gives you a lot more freeway when you make changes. It also prevents the camera from making decisions for you about lighting and exposure.

I used DxO optics to straighten the verticals and used the Edit > Transform > Distort feature in PS for the stairs. I realise now I could have done both in DxO. Looking at the before and after shots at the end, I realise I overdid the verticals.

The struts cloned out because they're a distraction. This was the most time-consuming process. When cloning and using the patch feature, it's better to work on a copy of the background layer. If you mess up, the background layer remains intact. As you can see, I could have made a better job of it if I'd given it more time.

Tonal and contrast adjustments on the woman and the rest of the picture. I should have spent some time fixing the blue colour shadow to the right of the woman's skirt, but I forgot.

Final touches on an imperfect image: extensive sharpening (works well on buildings) and copying the sky as a new layer and using the Multiply blend mode to add more drama.

Images 1 and 5 for comparison

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There are 9 comments , add yours!
Jan Eljapa 12 years, 1 month ago

Well... i prefer #2 but would add the tonal and contrast adjustments on the woman. I would keep the struts because you can see the editing from removing them. Blue looks to much saturated (at my screen) in the last shots and sharpening looks a bit too hard but hard to tell on this blog..

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 12 years, 1 month ago

... nice to know...

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Piyali 12 years, 1 month ago

I was about to say exactly what I felt when I read your "dare you" warning--so I am a little bit cautious now. I like the first image still with the struts, I would add a slightly desaturated blue sky and the sharpened images of the building from #5 to it--its my personal preference I suppose, but thanks for going through this extensive tutorial--it makes me wonder how large your scotch was...

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Marsha 12 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the tutorial - the sequential steps with the photo illustrations are very helpful. "Right way" or not, you got the job done. My vote...the second shot is definitely more appealing.

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Jarvo J 12 years, 1 month ago

Yep, definately prefer number 2. Good work.

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 12 years, 1 month ago

Just one large Scotch? Damn, you're good! =)

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Tim 12 years, 1 month ago

jsut one thing,,I wish the sky were not so blue,, maybe it is my screen, but I prefer 4 to 5 ;)

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Tim 12 years, 1 month ago

well, Im glad to know im not the only one who doesnt always like her images as taken from the cam,,,and no,,,I dont like the first image more.

12 years, 1 month ago Edited
Stefan Fletcher 12 years, 1 month ago

The ultimate in narcissism: commenting on one's own post before anyone else does. This exercise reminded me of a very important fact. Because just about anything is possible in image editing software, it's even more important to have a clear idea of what you want from your image. Digital photography doesn't change that.

12 years, 1 month ago Edited