Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

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  1. #1
    Member audphile1's Avatar
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    Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    During the last few days we kind of wandered off and high-jacked Ravage's thread "Canon 7D" and started talking about lenses, cameras and image post-processing.

    My apologies Ravage.

    So, in accord with the topic of this thread, what do you use to post-process, or develop if you will, your digital images, or do you not use any post-processing?

    I shoot with Canon T1i/500D, most of the time shoot in RAW on Neutral settings.
    My lenses are Canon 18-55 IS, Canon 50 f/1.8, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 Wide Angle.

    Here is what I typically do with the images:
    1. Initial correction of RAW images(mostly white balance corrections and exposure adjustment) in Canon DPP.
    2. Lens Distortion correction either in DxO Pro6 in full auto mode(does an incredible job by the way and works with RAW files) or in Photoshop CS3 if have already converted from RAW to JPEG or TIFF.
    3. I convert to either JPEG or TIFF in Canon DPP or Dxo Pro6, depends if I did my RAW adjustments in DxO.
    4. Photoshop CS3 to finish the image(s) off with final adjustments.

    Recently I downloaded and am trying out a new Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta, which is free until June 30th. So far I'm not impressed with its capabilities and one feature that drives me insane is the "import" of images from one folder where they are to the Lightroom folder for the purpose of creating a "catalog" so you end up with same images all over your hard drive. Don't like that at all. Also I am not too impressed with its feature set. It's kind of light, no pun intended, for its price tag of $200. So I will pass on it when it comes out.

    So, what's your image work flow like and what do you use to process your images.

    How often do you print and create physical photo albums?

  2. #2
    Member jay.scratch's Avatar
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    I shot with a Nikkon D40 with a 18-55mm f/3.5 (not exactly the camera I would pick, but my parents found out I wanted a camera and they bought it for me without knowing. First time they bought me something little expensive... so can't complain )

    -I usually shot in RAW or JEPG.
    -Have PS Elements 6
    -I do little post-precessing to none. Most of the times I end up making it worse so, I prefer to leave it untouched. Don't even tell me to fix the levels because... forget it, I'm just that awful.
    -Mostly I only fix the exposure, brightness/contrast when needed and after that I just play around to see if I can make it look better. For the reason I stated above never process the pictures too much. Mostly easy/basic stuff.
    -Eventually I save the RAW files to JEPG.

    Never printed anything but have quite a few photos I would like to get printed. I'm just not sure were I could get that done with good quality (regular sized pics)
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  3. #3
    Haf
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    I'm a Nikon shooter and I only shoot in RAW (14bit, lossless compressed for what is worth). Similar to Canon's DPP, in the Nikon world photographers can use ViewNX for viewing, rating and quickly converting RAW files to jpeg or they can choose to use CaptureNX which is basically a more advanced RAW image editor.
    Some people prefer to stay with the branded software, others embrace 3rd party software for various needs.

    What I do is the following:

    1. shoot RAW all the time, even when I'm out with my friends for a beer I find it preposterous not to use a full frame camera (Nikon D700 in my case) and shoot RAW. Sometimes I do shoot RAW+JPEG full manual (exposure, white balance) just to have some readily up-loadable content to deliver to my friends
    2. I download all the files to my PC, store them in some folder and view them with CaptureNX
    3. I settle for some keepers and I post process them with Adobe Photoshop CS4. I'm quite skilled with Photoshop since I have worked a lot with it in the fields of image manipulation and photo editing. Moreover, I prefer Photoshop to any other software because it is a fully fledged piece of software that allows me total freedom in respect to image editing.

    I print my photos from time to time in 20x30 (I think that's 8x12 in inches) and so far I have published a book on blurb, you can see a full preview of the book here: http://www.blurb.com/books/1177203

    The blurb book is kind of a retrospective of what I shot in 2009, I detailed this subject on my blog for anyone that is interested in this kind of on demand printing service http://haf.cc/2010/02/black-white-street-works-2009/

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  5. #4
    Member DragonDan's Avatar
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    workflow kinda depends on what the final product will be. Just for my photo albums on the backup hard drive, it would go something like this:

    d/l from card reader to temp folder. Open in bridge to sort/rate/meta/ sometimes crop. Open in camera raw to adjust white balance (if necessary), defringe/ CA adjustments. All adjustments to exposure/ saturation/ vibrance and the like are done here. Open in PS C3 for any further refinements like layering/ touchups (clone stamp/ healing brush), horizon straightening. There are probably tons more small steps that I'm forgetting. Final things include any levels balancing (I like a bit of the 'S' curve), if it needs any noise reduction, I run it through Nik software Define. If it needs a bit of sharpening, that is usually the last thing I do (with PS). All this is done on a monitor calibrated with a Pantone Huey. Cannot stress enough the importance of this if you do prints.

    Not all photos require that, some are done in two minutes, some take hours - just depends on what I'm aiming for.

    That said, I'd love to get my hands on the new Nik viveza. Took a class put on by Nik, we had a blast getting expert and hands-on lessons from them. Got the Define with a discount through that class.


    I shoot w/ a Canon 40D, and have a handful of lenses from 11mm to 135mm.

    **edit** forgot to mention the monitor calibration.
    Last edited by DragonDan; April 6th, 2010 at 10:34.
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  6. #5
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    Hi -

    I actually use LR 2.6, and find it to be fairly awesome. I shoot 4/3 (Olympus E510/E30), generally both RAW+JPG at the highest quality (RAW for archives, JPG for simplicity: Olympus tends to do an excellent job on getting the most from the JPG that you can possibly get, leaving relatively little room for improvement...).

    Lightroom actually does quite a nice job on developing, not as nice as the full-blown Photoshop, but a nice job nonetheless. I've never run into anything that really exceeded the abilities of LR to get the job done, and as a lossless processing tool (LR leaves your original files alone), I'm pretty happy. I do agree that the import is annoying: however, you can choose to leave the images in one place and create the catalogue elsewhere, and that is what I do. I've reserved a single hard drive for all of my photos and told LR to watch the root directory: sometimes there is an annoying pause (as long as 20 minutes or so) before the system picks up on the fact that I've coped 4GB of photos to a subdirectory.

    Previous to LR, I used the Olympus Master software, which didn't do anything special for me: it's not bad, but I keep it around for the hardware updates.

    I don't print and create physical photos - all I've got is a mundane laser for correspondence - so can't help you there.

    I do large-scale panoramas with the Gigapan robotic panorama tripod head (I looooove saying that...) that sometimes require quite a bit of work: I find the ability to work on a single member of a large panorama (say, of 200 images) and then apply the development to all members of that set to be quite convenient and a good aspect of LR.

    For quick and dirty picture resizing, I use IrfanView, one of the better image handlers out there. Does a decent job of converting to 800x600 for posting to WUS.

    Now, I've also got a Canon XS1000 IS for my wife and a Casio EXFC100, which is always tucked away somewhere for video work. Both of these I use LR as well, except for the video from both, which I generally don't edit (yet). I've done a huge amount of editing videos with the video editing tools from Magix, which are quite good and reasonably priced, using an older Sony DV camcorder for family vacations. Given that the Casio has 1080 and the Canon does 640x480, the Sony DV camcorder is gathering dust, even though the DV format is significantly superior to edit. It just takes too damn much time and work to convert the DV format into something that fits on a DVD: the Casio makes this much simpler...but that's another topic entirely.

    I've tried a number of other programs, trial versions, and keep on coming back to LR simply because it really seems to simply work for very large sets of images.

    JohnF
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  7. #6
    Member audphile1's Avatar
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    John, 200-image panorama? That must be some task! I'm afraid to even try a 2-image panorama.

  8. #7
    Member audphile1's Avatar
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    Quote Originally Posted by Haf View Post
    I'm a Nikon shooter and I only shoot in RAW (14bit, lossless compressed for what is worth). Similar to Canon's DPP, in the Nikon world photographers can use ViewNX for viewing, rating and quickly converting RAW files to jpeg or they can choose to use CaptureNX which is basically a more advanced RAW image editor.
    Some people prefer to stay with the branded software, others embrace 3rd party software for various needs.

    What I do is the following:

    1. shoot RAW all the time, even when I'm out with my friends for a beer I find it preposterous not to use a full frame camera (Nikon D700 in my case) and shoot RAW. Sometimes I do shoot RAW+JPEG full manual (exposure, white balance) just to have some readily up-loadable content to deliver to my friends
    2. I download all the files to my PC, store them in some folder and view them with CaptureNX
    3. I settle for some keepers and I post process them with Adobe Photoshop CS4. I'm quite skilled with Photoshop since I have worked a lot with it in the fields of image manipulation and photo editing. Moreover, I prefer Photoshop to any other software because it is a fully fledged piece of software that allows me total freedom in respect to image editing.
    I print my photos from time to time in 20x30 (I think that's 8x12 in inches) and so far I have published a book on blurb, you can see a full preview of the book here: http://www.blurb.com/books/1177203

    The blurb book is kind of a retrospective of what I shot in 2009, I detailed this subject on my blog for anyone that is interested in this kind of on demand printing service http://haf.cc/2010/02/black-white-street-works-2009/

    Haf, I took a look at the site. Very nice work! I like the consistency of your B&W conversion, plus there are very interesting street images. Thanks for sharing!

  9. #8
    Haf
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    Thanks, if you like my B&W conversions you might find interesting this thread I created on dpreview http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...2257125&page=1 where I explain a bit how I usually convert my photos to black and white. I recommend you read it there because the text is better formatted.

    Here's a quick copy-paste from there:
    First of all most of the time I know how I am going to process the photo (b&w or color) right before hitting the shutter button. For me this is an easy decision, b&w is the first option for shots where the light is not that great (mid day or any time of the day when the sun is harsh, with heavy contrast and ugly shadows all over the place) or when I am shooting some street shots of people with a bit of a social case touch.

    I rarely use the in camera monochrome capabilities, most of the time I rely on my Photoshop skills to achieve the results I want. I only shoot 14bit NEF files, download the files to my PC with a card reader and view the files with ViewNX. My only post processing tool is Photoshop CS4, maybe Lightroom will work in some way too (and even faster) but this is how I started doing things way back and I feel that I can't stop.

    Some post processing ideas that might help:
    *I start from a properly exposed image, flat looking. Flat means that I underexpose a bit the image when I import it to photoshop and I recover the highlights a bit in the needed areas by using an ellipse selection tool, feathered to 250 pixels and with various brightness settings, as needed. The same goes for the darker areas of the image, feathered selections and an increase in brightness
    *after the flat looking image step I make two or more new adjustment layers with the following settings: one with blending mode set to color where I set the saturation -100 (this makes the photo black & white) by double clicking the layer thumbnail from the layers window; the second layer I create has blending mode set to normal and altering the hue settings affects the overall look of the photo. For this to work the layer with -100 saturation has to be on top of all the adjustment layers.
    *I apply some further tweaking to the background layer as well, brightness/contrast, channel mixing, curves, it all depends on how the original photo looks like.
    *Sometimes I also work with the duotone feature, image / mode/ duotone and combine some several colors for an easy conversion. After I am done with the colors I convert back to RGB from the duotone mode
    *I always end my processing with some kind of sharpening filter to obtain that punchy, crisp look. I use either the smart sharpen filter or the unsharp mask, small amount %, hefty selection of pixel radius 25-30px and threshold around 5 levels.

    I hope this might help a bit. When I started to learn about b&w conversion I read 3-4 tutorials, experimented a lot and with time I got better and better, using my very own techniques. What's really awesome about postprocessing is that totally different techniques can lead to the same result, finding the best technique to call it your own I think is the hardest part.
    I have developed some new techniques in the last 3-4 months. All I can say is that now I tend to abuse more and more of the dodge and burn tools

  10. #9
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    Quote Originally Posted by audphile1 View Post

    Recently I downloaded and am trying out a new Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta, which is free until June 30th. So far I'm not impressed with its capabilities and one feature that drives me insane is the "import" of images from one folder where they are to the Lightroom folder for the purpose of creating a "catalog" so you end up with same images all over your hard drive. Don't like that at all. Also I am not too impressed with its feature set. It's kind of light, no pun intended, for its price tag of $200. So I will pass on it when it comes out.
    I and a lot of professional photographers have gotten quite fond of Lightroom (or the fairly similar Apple Aperture). I shoot motorsports and typically shoot several thousand RAW images in a weekend. I simply couldn't do that when I had a workflow similar to what you describe. Lightroom really presents a different way of thinking and it takes some getting used to, but once you develop a good workflow , it's an enormous aid to productivity. And now that Lightroom has local corrections (dodging, burning, etc.), it's become relatively rare that I need to use Photoshop at all.

    It's a powerful tool for, mostly, professionals, though plenty of amateurs use it, too. Keep in mind that things like organizing terabytes of images, keywording and captioning them using industry-standard methods, etc., are an important part of a pro's workflow and having a one-stop solution for pretty much everything is a huge benefit to productivity.

    You definitely do not end up with the same images all of your hard drive. In fact, quite the contrary since you're editing metadata and not the images themselves, you have one original master "negative" RAW file to which you can export in various fashions. For example, I can take a RAW file and simultaneously export it for web and for magazine use--with different colorspaces, sharpening, etc.--but there's still only the one original RAW file as the master. Also, you can make "virtual copies" of a RAW file and apply different metadata. For instance, you can have black and white and color virtual copies. There's still only one file on the hard drive, though.

    I can see where someone might get the wrong impression of Lightroom from initial trials but it's a fantastic tool. Martin Evening has a great book about Lightroom which I found very helpful.
    Last edited by mgscheue; April 7th, 2010 at 16:33.

  11. #10
    Member audphile1's Avatar
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    Re: Post Processing - Developing a digital Negative

    Quote Originally Posted by mgscheue View Post
    I and a lot of professional photographers have gotten quite fond of Lightroom (or the fairly similar Apple Aperture). I shoot motorsports and typically shoot several thousand RAW images in a weekend. I simply couldn't do that when I had a workflow similar to what you describe. Lightroom really presents a different way of thinking and it takes some getting used to, but once you develop a good workflow , it's an enormous aid to productivity. And now that Lightroom has local corrections (dodging, burning, etc.), it's become relatively rare that I need to use Photoshop at all.

    It's a powerful tool for, mostly, professionals, though plenty of amateurs use it, too. Keep in mind that things like organizing terabytes of images, keywording and captioning them using industry-standard methods, etc., are an important part of a pro's workflow and having a one-stop solution for pretty much everything is a huge benefit to productivity.

    You definitely do not end up with the same images all of your hard drive. In fact, quite the contrary since you're editing metadata and not the images themselves, you have one original master "negative" RAW file to which you can export in various fashions. For example, I can take a RAW file and simultaneously export it for web and for magazine use--with different colorspaces, sharpening, etc.--but there's still only the one original RAW file as the master. Also, you can make "virtual copies" of a RAW file and apply different metadata. For instance, you can have black and white and color virtual copies. There's still only one file on the hard drive, though.

    I can see where someone might get the wrong impression of Lightroom from initial trials but it's a fantastic tool. Martin Evening has a great book about Lightroom which I found very helpful.
    I could have misunderstood the concept and purpose of Lightroom. I still have to June 30 to evaluate it and will definitely try to gain deeper knowledge of it.

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