2P's Photo Classroom: Post Processing

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Posted 5/18/2010 by paintedmoon in General Photography
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paintedmoon
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:09:55 AM
I'm so excited to get to do this lesson! I've mentioned before how much I enjoy post-processing. I know some of you think I'm crazy (which is distinct possibility), but I think it's fascinating to take a very ordinary, grey, dull image and watch it become something rich and colorful, with depth and vibrancy and that "something" that makes the viewer want to keep looking at it.

It's also interesting that in the last couple of weeks there have been several questions and posts about "clean" editing. I already had this lesson done when those questions started popping up, so I think that means that this is a good time to have this discussion! And I love talking about PP as well as doing it, so if you have any questions, or examples of your own, please feel free to share here!












Here is the SOOC with no adjustments a bit bigger, since I know it's smaller on the following pages:


































Here is that SOOC a bit larger:































So here is the Before/After for the first one (I think I accidentally used the SOOC with a few ACR adjustments for my "before" version here, so that's why it looks lighter than the true SOOC I showed above...sorry about that!):



The final version of that image by itself:




And here's the Before/After of the second image:




And that final image by itself (and I wanted to reiterate something I mentioned at the beginning of this image - her skin is pinker here than I would often let it be. But I felt it "fit" with the soft evening light in which this photo was taken. On a photo with different lighting this wouldn't look right. I should probably show another image with a more "standard" color of natural light):




I know that's a lot of information! Thanks for reading all the way through it. Please let me know if something doesn't make sense or you need further clarification on anything.

Anne

ETA: I totally forgot to put the links at the bottom of this like I said I would above. Sorry about that! I'm adding them here:


Noiseware Custom Settings


Layer Masks and Adjustment Layers Part 1


Layer Masks Part 2


Vignette Tutorial

maritimescrapper
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:21:28 AM
Thanks for posting this for us Anne. I really appreciate the step by step photos. I can't wait to sit and read this tonight when I have more time to concentrate.


Kris Ann
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Molly C
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:22:28 AM
Thanks, Anne! It's so interesting to read how others pp. You have a couple of tricks I am going to try out later. I love the way you get contrast because it is never muddy but always so crisp. I think I might steal a few techniques.


Molly

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caropea
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:22:59 AM
I am at work and can't see the images, but I can't wait to read this tonight. Thanks for doing this lesson!!!!



mmlowe
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:24:48 AM
Awesome lesson! Can't wait to follow it along step by step! Thank you so much!



katieFLapple
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:27:57 AM
Thank you so much for taking the time to put together this great lesson, Anne! It is always so fascinating to see how others approach pp'ing! I have just recently started zeroing out in ACR and have noticed a big difference in my editing. I have never used the Channel Mixer method to work with colors. Honestly, I usually turn to an action set the I like to pop my colors, but I am eager to try this method out! Thanks again!


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KrisDan
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:38:53 AM
This is Awesome. Can't wait to try it. Thanks so much!

Kristy

DeAnna A
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:38:55 AM
Thank you Anne! Saw a few new-to-me techniques in your lesson. Can't wait to try them!



lbfritts
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:42:20 AM
Anne - I cannot tell you how long I have been waiting for this tutorial. Thank you sooo much.
Now off to see how much of this I can do in PSE - i have masking, I've added curves but channels, hmmmmm....
Great great tutorial - thanks again!!!!!!!



darnold46
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:02:18 AM
Great tutorial. Thanks for all the info. I have copied and saved for future use.


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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:05:14 AM
Anne you are the best! Bookmarked it so I can read and play later. thank you so much!



NanaToHannah

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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:06:31 AM
a million thanks for this tutorial... can't wait to put some of your tips and techniques to good use


Cathy



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UtahMomX4
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:12:51 AM
This is great, Anne! Thank you so much. I can't wait to see if I can get some of this to work in Elements. Thanks again!!!!


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aprilpez
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:16:26 AM
I dont have time to read this right now but I am so excited to read it... I use photoshop but again self taught and I know I am not getting my moneys worth out of the program.

thevalerie
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:22:56 AM
Thank you for another great lesson, Anne!!



aly81475
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:28:32 AM
Thanks this was an awesome tutorial- can't wait to get CS5 and try it out.

Elizabeth


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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:29:49 AM
Thanks so much Anne...this is definitely getting printed out to be read again later!


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livelovelearnphotog
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:31:04 AM
Oh Anne, how I thee! LOL! I cannot WAIT to sit down and try some tricks tonight while editing!


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TREZmom
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:37:39 AM
What an amazing lesson! The power of post processing never ceases to amaze me. Now I just need to apply your great technique to my own images. It's a little intimidating, but you laid it out so well.

Thanks so much for your time and effort.



basketballmomma
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:41:35 AM
Thank you so much! This is such an awesome example! Thank you

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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:06:07 AM
Wonderful lesson. Very interesting, for sure.


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:15:45 AM
although my head is spinning, I am soooo excited to sit down and actually study this one. I've been spending a lot of time on the couch and think I could actually get into this and learn from you! I will never forget seeing a few of your sOOC shots in Denver and although they were good, just seeing how you made them great was so eye-opening! I love that are you are so open with your amazing skill and talent, makes you just an incredible person in person as much as you are online and I'm so blessed to know you


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:40:55 AM
Awesome! thanks so much it's a huge help!


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kclmomof4
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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:40:55 AM
Awesome! thanks so much it's a huge help!


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DJPPhotos
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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:44:45 AM
Thank you so much for this lesson! Wonderful, as always!



clindroos
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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:45:21 AM
Thanks for the great tutorial. I cannot wait to play.


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:54:48 AM
Thanks for a great lesson Anne. I can't wait to read it properly later. I really, really love your style of PP. It's so clean and fresh and timeless.

I've also been reading some of your older posts/lessons on natural light. Thank you so much for all the information you provide!


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:56:54 AM
A.MA.ZING! Thanks!!! Although, I don't think my skill level is there yet, I am definitly bookmarking this lesson!!! Thanks so much for sharing your talent and "know how"!


Jessica


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Posted: 5/18/2010 11:16:54 AM
I'm never going to get my housework done!!!!

Thanks Anne

Julie

momaziggy
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Posted: 5/18/2010 11:49:31 AM
I agree with Molly and love the way you add contrast because it's never muddy like mine! Ha! I'll def be trying a lot of your methods and am sure it will alter the way I'm currently editing clean images, which isn't that great! Lol! Thanks Anne...you are THE BEST and my idol!


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paintedmoon
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Posted: 5/18/2010 11:56:06 AM
Thank you everyone! So glad it's helpful to you.

I totally forgot to add the links I mentioned in the lesson. I've now added those to the bottom of my original post.

Molly - to be honest, I don't usually do these steps myself - I've said before my editing has turned in to a scary conglomeration of tweaked actions and my own stuff thrown in, too. But I've been feeling like I needed to back up a bit and see what just some basic tools can do for me. This lesson was a great opportunity for ME, too, since it forced me to go back to basics.


Honestly, I usually turn to an action set the I like to pop my colors, but I am eager to try this method out!


Katie, me too! I usually use an action that I have radically adjusted, but the CM method seems to work pretty well - I was pleased with the results it gave me.

Heather -

Thank you, ladies!

Anne

tiffanylyn2
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:00:04 PM
Thank you so much! Looking forward to studying this!



amarvel
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:00:23 PM
thank you so much anne, this was a great read. i cant wait to try some of this stuff out! i will have to reread this later tonight and play along!



Angela
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:01:31 PM
Wow! Great job Anne. I love your PP style. TFS.


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sara.k
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:25:19 PM
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! This is exactly what i need. I really appreicate the time you spent putting such a detailed lesson together. Cant wait to try this out.


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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:32:17 PM
Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us, Anne! Your processing is amazing, and I'm going to sit down and slowly try to soak all of this in to better my own processing. You have mentioned some things I have not tried before, and I'm excited to see what I can do with them.

Thank you!



1scrappycat
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:40:04 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I too have been anxiously awaiting this class. I love you PP'ing style, and your photographs are always truly breathtaking. I love the color and clarity that always shines in your captures. You are an inspriation


Cathy


hampton32
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Posted: 5/18/2010 1:03:51 PM
Anne, you are SO WONDERFUL to take the time to teach us!!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

There are a bunch of things here I will try -- for example, I have never thought of adding another curves layer and changing the blend mode. That sounds very cool.

I recently began using channel mixer adjustment layers on my black and white images, and I am liking the results. I have not used them that much on color images, so my mind is racing with the possibilities.

One thing I do differently (and I know there are a million ways to do things), is I use the adjustment brush in ACR to deal with areas that are blown or close to being blown, as opposed to taking the time to put one image on top of another one. I agree with not moving the recovery slider that far without doing some masking because it makes an image look murky.

Thanks again for being so generous with your time and your tremendous talent!



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momaziggy
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Posted: 5/18/2010 1:13:18 PM
Oh Anne..I could KISS you! Ha! The main thing I struggle with with clean editing is dull gray muddy colors and skin tones. So doing this step by step made me look at my curves layers differently and how to use them better! Here's a horrible shot from Easter morning but it's what I grabbed really quick. I cannot..I mean can...NOT clone to save my life! IDK why, but I just can't do it. So I'm sure you would fill in the blown driveway to camera right with the hedges to make it look better. It's not great but it's the best clean edit I personally have ever done and it's a start. The lighting is horrible and it's just a snapshot so I'm going to find some better images to practice with! But I wanted to show you what I was able to do my very first time with your tut on a bad image. I can only imagine with time, practice and a good image, what I'll be able to do!

I completely zero'd out ACR and saved that, so now I don't have to undo the default settings then play with them. Now I can just start with it already done! Yay!







So keeping in mind the lighting is really bad and harsh and it's just a snap..did I do okay for a start? Are the colors too neon? On the CM layer I brought the opacity down to like 10% and on the soft light curves layer it's only at about 10% as well..I love that method too! Is the grass and hedges too yellow? I'm thinking the grass is okay but think the hedges with the harsh sun hitting them might be too yellow! I'd love any hard CC and honest thoughts you have IF you have the time! Thanks for everything Anne...words cannot express how grateful I am for all you do for us! You are AMAZING, KIND & GENEROUS! I wish I could've went to TN to meet you!

So in looking before I hit submit, I'm thinking I should've masked out some of the brightness on the hedges and the blown driveway like you did with the sky and masked out some of the color from Haylee's red pants!


~Crystal aka Momaziggy AT yahoo DOT com ~

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momaziggy
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Posted: 5/18/2010 1:16:58 PM
Ugh..I'm such a muted color person that it looks too neon to me now! Please tell me what you guys think? Do I need to go back to the drawing board and start completely over lol or just make adjustments. I really want to get this because although I prefer a creative muted tonal range edit 98% of the time, I want to get better at doing clean edits as well!


~Crystal aka Momaziggy AT yahoo DOT com ~

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KrisDan
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Posted: 5/18/2010 1:47:58 PM
Ok I tried this. My processing still doesn't look good to me. I only did the Clean Processing part. Seems like no matter what I do I get too much contrast. This also looks dark to me.

I zeroed out in ACR which did help me feel like I had a clean slate to start with. Exposure looked pretty good there with the exception of blown out trees which I recovered separately merged and masked. I'm using PSE 8 so had to use work-araound for curves which is Grant's tools. I think I still have to practice a TON on this curves thing. Levels is starting to make good sense.

LINK

Please help me understand what else to do.

Edited to add: I did another version and lighted just her face with a curves layer adjusting midtones. Not sure if this was the right thing to do but it looks lighter anyway.

Thanks again for this awesome tutorial.

Kristy

PS the shiny thing in her mouth is a spacer.

danielleroe12
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Posted: 5/18/2010 2:00:51 PM
Thanks for a great lesson Anne, I'm anxious to try it out on some new photos from this past weekend!

And regarding this:


to be honest, I don't usually do these steps myself - I've said before my editing has turned in to a scary conglomeration of tweaked actions and my own stuff thrown in, too. But I've been feeling like I needed to back up a bit and see what just some basic tools can do for me. This lesson was a great opportunity for ME, too, since it forced me to go back to basics.


And the part in one your images where you talked about creating actions for your workflow once you settle into it (which I can't quote since it was in an image)...

How would you (or do you have any suggestions) go about creating your own actions for a workflow like this?


Danielle

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paintedmoon
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Posted: 5/18/2010 2:21:07 PM
You are all very welcome!

I'm interested to know - many of you have said that there are things in this tutorial that you've never tried - just for grins, would you mind telling me what things are new to you?

Carolyn - ! And you are SOOOOOO right about the adjustment brush!! I have been meaning to learn to use that thing and I keep forgetting. So stupid of me! It's hard to get rid of old habits sometimes, LOL, even if they're cumbersome ones. Thank you for reminding me that I need to go teach myself how to use the adjustment brush.

Crystal - you are so welcome! Yes, it's a snap, but I think you did a great job on the editing. You self-CC'd two of the things I would have mentioned - masking the brightness on the blown areas behind them and masking the red pants a bit more. Reds/pinks can give you problems more easily than some other colors, so I'm always careful to make sure they're not too saturated when I PP. I love to clone, but the cloning would be a bit tricky on this one because of where you would need to clone right up next to one side of your younger DD.

Also, I can't tell on your version, but make sure the blacks in your older DD's jacket aren't clipped. That would be one of those areas I would make sure didn't turn in to a solid black blob. But overall, I think you did a great job on this! I can't wait to see what you do on a more deliberate portrait.

Kristy - I agree with you - it still looks a bit too contrasty. I couple of things:

-did you make sure the blacks in ACR were at 0? When I started zeroing out the blacks, I was much happier b/c before, I was always fighting those black blobby areas I mentioned.

-how radical did you make the changes to the curves when you did your curve layers? I know it's sort of hard to tell on my examples (they turned out smaller than I wanted them to be), but every curve layer I did had very small adjustments to the curve. I know when I first started working with curves, I tried to make bigger changes, and I was never happy with the results.

When skin is still looking a bit dark, I do a curves layer to raise the midtones, just like you did. So your instincts there were good!

Danielle - What I would suggest is editing a lot of images by hand - IOW, do the steps individually each time you edit an image. I'll bet that pretty soon you'll start to see some similarities in the steps that work on your images. When that starts to happen, write your own action using the steps that you seem to use over and over every time. You can leave the opacities for the layers at 100% and adjust them individually after the action has run, or if you find that, for instance, you always do a Soft Light Curves layer at about 12%, then make that part of your action. Because they are adjustment layers, you can always change them as long as you don't flatten. Does that make sense?

Thanks for showing me your examples, Crystal and Kristy - I love seeing them!

Anne

momaziggy
AncestralPea

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March 2008
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Posted: 5/18/2010 2:41:57 PM
Thanks Anne! It's nice to know that two things I saw after the fact were two things you would've CC'd. It shows me that I'm looking at the right things. I wish I loved to clone. It's like the thorn in my PS side. Lol! No matter how hard I try, I can't do it and give up! Ya know, until reading your posts and tuts, I was that person that squashed and never paid attention to blacks and shadows in the backgrounds...like black blobby trees! Ha! So thank you for that as well! It helps give a more overall clean crispness to the image that I never had before. So now I'm looking more and trying to keep detail there but not washing it out at the same time. It's all about balance right?! Teehee!

As for the methods I've never tried...CM for one. I never could get the hang of it. I mean I understood they needed to equal 100 but something didn't click. I think it was that you have to do it to each color channel then lower the opacity. So I'm super excited about that. It's helping bring some vibrancy to my dull, gray muddy images which has been my biggest issue and frustration. Then I guess really using curves for more than just bumping midtones or a strong s curve at low opacity. I used to use a slight s curve at almost full opacity then changed it to a strong s curve {like TRA oh snap} with an opacity of about 15-40%. But I think because the strong s curves has such flat/straight parts in the curves, it gives a muddy look. Damien from ILP and now CM was talking about that and it makes sense and part of the reason I think my images are so darn muddy! So the slight s curves still gives depth and dimension without make the colors/skin tones muddy. And also starting to look at the histo on the curves layer a bit more to adjust it. I've never add contrast by bringing in the shadows to the right a bit along the bottom and bumping the mids and highs a bit! I really like that method. And I LOVE the curves/soft ligth blend mode with a low opacity. Just the right amount of pop and depth! I did know about the lab mode/multiply tho! At least I knew something right! Ha! Thanks for everything Anne. I know I keep saying it but it's the only way I can show how grateful I am for your time and generosity.


~Crystal aka Momaziggy AT yahoo DOT com ~

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cashew6300
PeaNut

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Posted: 5/18/2010 2:42:19 PM
I may have a really dumb question but can you do this same process with a JPG or is it strictly RAW. I am to nervous to switch but I need a way to process my images cleanly!


CaShaun
________________________________________________________________________________
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momaziggy
AncestralPea

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March 2008
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Posted: 5/18/2010 3:02:10 PM
Carolyn...thank you as well for the reminder of the adjustment brush in ACR. I've tried it before, but quite a while ago and I just did it on a shot and it worked GREAT and SO fast and is so nice to not have to touch the dreaded recovery slider!! Love that you can add different pins for different areas that need more or less and that you can adjust whatever slider you adjusted!


~Crystal aka Momaziggy AT yahoo DOT com ~

BUY The Ziggy Licious Action Set HERE!

The Ziggy Life Blog

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CS4 calibrated w/Sypder3Elite

paintedmoon
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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Posted: 5/18/2010 3:26:54 PM
CaShaun - yes, you can do these same steps on a jpeg, although probably not exactly like this. Because the jpegs will already have sharpening, color and contrast added to them, if you did this much to a jpeg it would most likely come out too contrasty.

I know switching to RAW is intimidating, and like anything, it does take some time to teach yourself all the differences. When you first start with it, it feels more cumbersome and times-consuming. But as you start to get used to it, it gets easier. I like RAW because you CAN start out with a "neutral" image with nothing done to it and add what YOU want, not what the camera has already added to it.

But if you nail your exposure and color SOOC, sometimes jpegs don't need a lot of PP. But that's the trick, isn't it - nailing that stuff all the time.

Anne

deragirl
StuckOnPeas

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February 2007
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Posted: 5/18/2010 3:33:26 PM
Thanks for this! It is wonderful, and although I only have elements, I've learned so many basics from this that I think it will help me process better there as well. You just made some things that were previously mysterious suddenly understandable.

You are wonderful!


Susan Beth
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EssieP
StuckOnPeas

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October 2008
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Posted: 5/18/2010 3:41:04 PM
Thanks Anne! I can't wait to read through this when I have time. What an amazing difference in your before and afters!! You are truly amazing and inspiring!


Esther

My Blog
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Meldan
AncestralPea

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Posted: 5/18/2010 3:43:37 PM
Looking forward to reading this thoroughly. Thank you!


Melissa
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