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Image Processing and Workflow RAW, DNG , TIFF and JPG. From Capture to Ready for Publish/Display. All software and techniques used within an image workflow, (except extensive retouching and repair or DAM).

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  #1  
Old March 3rd, 2016, 06:05 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Default Lightroom Nik Photoshop and Align Layers

I have been told that all of my photographic work contains a similar identifiable look and style. I think that is accurate to say and for me that is a good thing, whether individuals like what I do or not. It is me. It may be described as grungy or earthy, textured or colourful. Except for the colour, that can be said for my Black and White images as well.

So when asked what my workflow or processing is to get the look that I want, I have to preface by stating that just as I use the same camera and lenses as everyone else - and yet my captures are quite different than everyone else - - - for processing, I also use the same softwares as everyone else with much of the same settings - and yet my processed images are quite different than everyone elses.

And so my primary tool is Lightroom for processing 100% of my images. From within Lightroom, I sometimes open the files in Nik Color Efex (or Nik Silver Efex for B&W) for the feature set that is contained within that software. I also on occasion open a set of files in Photoshop, but not for additional image manipulation - but only for combining images through the use of Aligning multiple layers and masking out select areas, when I find that necessary.

In fact even though my images have a similar vibe - I do not have one fixed processing method. I have favourite sliders that I adjust on a case by case basis. In Nik software, I have created several - what are called Recipes - of tools that I like to use. When I use Nik, these are generally starting points to get to what feels best.

So I have taken some Screen Shots of a process of combining multiple frames - that will allow you to see some of my favourite sliders and adjustments. This is crazy image, but I find it fun on occasion to combine the same person in a frame. By using this style, I can show how I incorporate Photoshop from within Lightroom.

Here is the final processed image.


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Old March 3rd, 2016, 06:15 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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So in this case I handheld my camera and shot a few frames from across the street. Being I liked the stone wall for a final image, I took the first frame without any human intervention. Then I saw the lady come along and fired off 3 more frames with her in different positions - in case I preferred to have her in the shot.





So first thing I would do when desiring to combine frames, is select all the frames - in this case the 3 with the woman walking through. Right clicking I then select in the Edit In menu - Open as Layers in Photoshop. This saves a lot of work by stacking all of the images on top of each other (as opposed to opening them individually and copying and pasting on top of each other)




Once Photoshop opens, I select all of the layers and in the Edit menu, select Auto Align Layers. Generally this does a very good job although from time to time Photoshop isn't able to recognize the matching content and so I may have to align the layers manually. In most cases, I use Auto in the Dialogue Box.



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Old March 3rd, 2016, 06:31 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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I then create a Layer Mask on each layer (but the bottom one) and using the paint brush and colour Black, paint in areas on each layer to reveal the content that I want showing from below.



Once I have my image composited the way that I want, I am ready to send it back to Lightroom. The key here is to simply click Save - - - not Save As or Save for Web or any other setting. Also there is no need to flatten the layers as that will be done when the file is sent to Lightroom. The new combined file will drop in beside the original.




All of my images always benefit from cropping, straightening, dodging and burning of select areas as the first steps. I also may make some contrast adjustments at this time - strengthening blacks or toning down highlights. Many times I can get my grundy look from inside Lightroom itself - using primarily the Clarity slider and Vibrance and Saturation and selective colour and density adjustments using the HSL toolset.

But there are some features in Nik Color Efex that I really benefit from and so I often open the file in that program to reveal some of my custom Recipes that I have put together containing sections that I like - such as Tonal Control (Similar to Clarity but more control over Highlights, Midtones and Shadows.

So to get into Colour Efex Pro from Lightroom, I right click on the file and select Edit In > Colour Efex 4. This will open a Dialogue Box containing Export options. I generally always want my Lightroom adjustments to be included and so have "Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments" checked. There is also a place to choose the file format, colour space and resolution used to send the file. Even though I generally shoot in JPEG format in the camera - I use TIFF to maintain as much data as possible through the editing process.



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Old March 3rd, 2016, 06:41 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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In Colour Efex Pro, I make use of the Tonal Contrast setting - preferring to crank up Midtowns and Highlights to varying degrees - depending on the image.



Another section that I include with many of my images is Glamour Glow. Sometimes this will be very subtle and other times more pronounced. Within the section - besides the glow intensity - saturation and colour can be tweaked based on the glow for real effect from colder to warmer.

I personally really like the Darken/Lighten Section and use the Place Centre tool to hit an area on the image where the light can fall off from - like often a lower corner. I then adjust the Centre and Border Luminosity and size to get a cool look that adds dimension to many of my images I find.



And of course I like the Images Borders section for adding film frame or solid white or black borders to taste. I have a couple of favourites and simply click on Vary Border to to get a unique look within that style.

When tweaked to taste, I then hit Save and the file is sent back into Lightroom for finishing.



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Old March 3rd, 2016, 06:53 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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For finalizing the image in Lightroom, I may add or take away Clarity depending on if I want to intensify the overall pop, or soften the image a bit. I may add or take away Vibrance and Saturation to get a more colour popping look or a more faded nostalgic look like I have used in many of my Nicaraguan images.

I often add Grain for a more organic look, using the Slider near the bottom of the Development panel.

And I like to finish things off with some Contrast tweaks. My favourites being cutting the Lights and boosting Highlights a little - as well as boosting Darks and cutting Shadows somewhat.



I am a long time lover of intense Colours, with photographers like Pete Turner having a big impact on my use of Saturated Colour and Heavy Contrast. And so I do make good use of the HSL section to select specific colours with the little crosshair selector tool and playing with primarily Saturation and Luminance on specific colours. In the case of this image, I tweaked the Lime Green purse and some yellow in the wall.



Finally my image is Exported. I have Export Presets made for many different scenarios - such as personal and family images with no watermark at varying sizes or compression levels - as well as presets for Instagram or forums (mostly saved to my Dropbox for access by all of my devices) or for sending files by FTP to accounts on my servers. Having the Presets, makes it very quick and easy to rip through resizing and saving with one click.

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  #6  
Old March 3rd, 2016, 11:38 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Hello Robert
Bravo and thanks to share your experience and "tricks".
This also demonstrates the power (if ever needed) of using CS and LR together, they are really powerful tools provided that one search an is curious…
CS and LR are my every day studio life and without them I could not achieve most of my PP tech job.
However one have to mention that this powerful tools cannot make a good image without the photographers initial vision and shooting the right way, in fact to get the good material for futur PP…
Kudos
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Old March 3rd, 2016, 11:53 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Robert,

One can access the Nik filters through Photoshop but what is drawing you to use Lightroom. You mention "Clarity", but what else? I use the Clarity on ACR.

Asher
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Old March 4th, 2016, 01:05 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris View Post
Hello Robert
Bravo and thanks to share your experience and "tricks".
This also demonstrates the power (if ever needed) of using CS and LR together, they are really powerful tools provided that one search an is curious…
CS and LR are my every day studio life and without them I could not achieve most of my PP tech job.
However one have to mention that this powerful tools cannot make a good image without the photographers initial vision and shooting the right way, in fact to get the good material for futur PP…
Kudos

Thank you Nicolas Yes - the image needs to be there at capture.
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Old March 4th, 2016, 01:17 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Robert,

One can access the Nik filters through Photoshop but what is drawing you to use Lightroom. You mention "Clarity", but what else? I use the Clarity on ACR.

Asher
Lightroom suits my needs perfectly for importing, organization (all of my files are stored on one very large portable hard drive using one Catalogue), image processing with more capability that just Clarity, Exporting Printing or any other kind of output.

The features that I am in love with are the Image Organization and the fact that all edits are Non-Destructive. I have been using Lightroom since I started traveling to Central America in 2008 (Costa Rica). I am very familiar and comfortable with Lightroom.

ACR? Firstly I don't shoot Raw. But if I were to shoot Raw, Lightroom handles the files and manipulations equally as well. Secondly ACR has no organizational ability. Before Lightroom, I used Bridge with Photoshop and there is no comparison in usefulness to Lightroom. Photoshop bakes in manipulations to files, so unless you save originals and create copies, you are stuck with your manipulations. In Lightroom, changes are stored as Meta Data without ever touching the original image or even copies that are created from the original can always be backed out of or Reset. For me there is nothing that touches Lightroom.



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Old March 4th, 2016, 03:34 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Thanks, Robert.

So if LR had no cataloging capability, then are there still advantages over PS?

Asher
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  #11  
Old March 4th, 2016, 06:35 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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VIDEOS : MY IMAGE PROCESSING PROCESS


Thought that I would throw together a few (silent) VIDEO SCREEN RECORDINGS of me processing my images in Lightroom as I do.

This first is a 12 second Crop, Process with my custom Nica Preset, and save for use on Instagram or other web applications (960px). This is all that is required for some of my images, or for my personal images I may click on my SNAP or BW presets to get the processing that I want or close to it. Regardless, very quick and on to the next:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-8uf52PGSs



This video shows a 1 minute process that may be more typical in my daily image processing - in that some subtle dodging, burning, distortion and perspective correction and color manipulations are needed to get my results. Quite often my processing starts with my SNAP Preset that adds some Clarity and Curves and Colour Intensity adjustments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UDK6h0b8vA



This video shows a more thoughtful approach that in this case took a bit over 5 minutes - where I am being a little more artful with my manipulations. Lightroom's Selective Adjustment tools come more into play - as well as editing the files in Nik software from within Lightroom. I fiddle and play with different tools to come up with something that I like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4fYaUmDVBU



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  #12  
Old March 4th, 2016, 10:06 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Thanks, Robert.

So if LR had no cataloging capability, then are there still advantages over PS?
Sounds to me as if Robert feels that Lightroom's "non-destructive editing" is an advantage.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #13  
Old March 5th, 2016, 04:05 AM
Andy brown Andy brown is offline
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Robert, thanks for taking the time to show and explain your processes.
Very enlightening.
I think the important lessons for me are to experiment more with the available tools and work towards end results that I'm happy with but also familiar with and to create a coherent series or groups of images.
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