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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 May 22nd, 2014, 11:27 AM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Default My Current NICA-TONE Process

This year I have kind of settled on a look that works with the edgier, character filled city that I am living in - - - that being Leon, Nicaragua in Central America. I'm sure that some will dislike the appearance and some have found it appealing to their eyes.

It is simply a choice that I make as a creative photographer. Even if I am shooting noise-free, clean low ISO images - - - in general I do not choose to present them that way. I organize and process my travel and street images, almost exclusively in Adobe Lightroom and seldom open up Photoshop for anything other than compositing.

For video, my software is Final Cut Pro and for panoramics it's Autopano Giga 3. All accomplished on my Basic Apple 1.3 GHz Macbook Air with 4GB of RAM running OS X Version 10.9.2. My cameras are the minuscule Olympus Pen models with kit lenses.

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So I figured that screen captures may be of more use than typing all the steps involved. To start with I will show the final processed image - - - then follow with the process.








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These first 3 screen shots are my normal process for most of my grunged up colour images in Nicaragua. I don't spend a lot of time other than a bit of dodging and burning using the Lightroom tools - - - and then clicking my Basic Nica preset that I have created. Normally these would be the only steps I take and then move on to the next.



This is from the camera with the square crop


I take away and add emphasis on specific areas of the frame using the Adjustment Brush and/or Graduated Filter - - - mostly dropping or raising the exposure on the selected areas


My Basic Nica preset gives me starting levels of adjustment with Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation as well as a Split Tone that adds yellow tonality and then Post Crop Vignetting



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Old May 22nd, 2014, 11:34 AM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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For some of my shots, I have added a bit more texture by using Nic Color Efex Filters like Detail Extractor - but I don't use the defaults - preferring to dial in to own visual preference.



From with Lightroom, I Edit a copy of my photo with Lightroom Adjustments - using Color Efex Pro. This filter is Detail Extractor


After Saving back into Lightroom, I finish off the image to taste, adding Clarity, Tonal changes with Curves and anything else needed. These steps are shown in the left History Panel.




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Old May 22nd, 2014, 11:38 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Robert,

You may know that I have often been a bit cynical about the use of tone-mapping techniques. I have sometimes said of a work using that tool in what I consider a counterproductive way, "Very nice - it almost looks like a photograph."

But there is something very winning about your recent series of works.

I guess this is the difference between using a tool to help produce a work of art and just using a tool because you have it.

And thanks so much for the tutorial on your method.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 12:24 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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My friends,

In street photography, ideally, we'd like the fascinating lives and presence of people to be the pinnacles of interest. Our cameras all document what we see and like perfectly well. So why is it so hard for the humanity in the picture to "speak to us" in a strong persuasive voice? It might be something inherent in what we are programmed to expect and react to.

Most photographs made in the wild, (i.e. "away from civilization"), have related natural colors and textures - more so for animals that use camouflage! For millions of years, man has looked at and judged mostly biologically-derived elements!

However, today, we take most of our pictures in a man-made environment! So how can we expect the odd, "attention-getting" uniform colors of different cycles of "fashion" to work in harmony, as in a natural forrest or savanah setting? Worse there's a plethora of industrial-uniformity, of texture or smoothness, rarely approached in natural biological systems. All these factors, (in multiple elements in a photograph), seduce us to be interpreted and this can easily distract our attention from our intent: to capture some "essence" of interesting people and their lives!

These factors are ameliorated, somewhat,

1. Selective focus and blur: Using cheap plastic, more sophisticated effect-lenses, such as "Lens baby" or expensive soft focus lenses, that are so popular with artists.

2. B&W: In B&W, photography, we already have a major departure from manufactured colors and more often than not, B&W pictures appear more "unified" than the colored original from which it's derived. That seems to be in part because all elements are made from the same material: just some degree of darkness, grey or white.

3. Use of unifying color/texture effects as shown in this "Family Picture"! :) This suffuses adding some "commonality" to all the elements in the picture.

Let me expand on item #3.

Modern Olympus 4/3 cameras, faithfully record and document all the unmatched entities. Unless they are composed in some Miro or Calder fashion, they are likely to appear non-unified and not yet a fully realized, such as pictures by a Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet or Pieter Bruhgel. This is because, each element in their celebrated paintings appear "embedded" in the same kind of "soup".

In your use of the yellow tone and even more with the addition of the "grunge" appearance, your photograph is transformed from a record of a family outside their home, to a work of art where commonality of color and texture suffused through the image, removes individual identity of elements, just as in works of art by the painters I mentioned above.

I'd ask photographers not to look down at use of filters, but rather to investigate their use to convert excellent pictures that document scenes to fabulous unified works of art.

The trap is that we might use the same solution as "everyone else" and not really seek out the effects that express one's own ideas, feelings and sensibilities.

Asher
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  #5  
Old May 22nd, 2014, 01:58 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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I have seen this process on your "family" picture yesterday. Thank you for explaining how you did it.

If I may voice an opinion: it is a good idea, but it is a bit too much of a good thing. I do the same. Usually, when I try these kind of effects, I first make them as intense as here. But when I come back to the pictures after a few weeks, I dial the effect to about half of what I first liked. I suppose that, by experimenting with the effects, I desensitise myself to them.

Here, I would suggest to dial down colour saturation and detail enhancement a bit. Maybe dial down the vignette effect as well or feather it more.

You are free to ignore these comments, of course. These are your pictures. Besides, Instagram made good money with extremely over the top effects, so what would I know? Maybe I am too old for the modern public.
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 02:20 PM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Thank you Doug, Asher and Jerome, for your replies.



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Old May 22nd, 2014, 02:27 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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As I said: it is fine with me if you prefer it that way. And you may even know what sells better than I do. So, keep it that way.
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  #8  
Old May 22nd, 2014, 06:32 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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I appreciate very much your openness, Rob, to sharing your "Nica" workflow. Your method works well in so far as the picture has remarkable unity. I love the tying together of the elements. Imagine how extreme one can go when one looks at the work of the most celebrated painters. No item is surgically separate from even the air around it. It's all part of one continuous medium.

Maggie has a parallel approach in that she has a great storehouse of textures and tonalities that she has assembled from her own work and those granted license to the public domain.

I hope we see more such tailored approaches to personalizing, (the often, far too "documentary"), output of the modern camera.

Asher
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