Tag Archives: post-processing

The Photoshop Techniques Every Lightroom User Should Know

lr-psDespite the fact that I’ve owned a copy of Adobe Photoshop since the 1990’s, I’ve rarely made a big deal about it in my workshops and presentations. That’s because the cost of ownership presented a huge barrier to amateur photographers. Moreover, Lightroom has become quite powerful in its own right; many users simply find they didn’t need to leave the Lightroom editing environment.

If you’re using Lightroom via the Adobe Photography Plan (Creative Cloud subscription), then you’re getting the complete version of Adobe Photoshop right along with it. If you have access to this powerful tool, you ought to know how to use it (at least in terms of your photos).

There are so many tools in Photoshop that it’s easy to get lost and intimidated. However, there are a few things that Photoshop lets you do that you can’t do in Lightroom, and for certain photos, those tools can be tremendously useful. Read on to see my list of “go-to” tools.

Continue reading The Photoshop Techniques Every Lightroom User Should Know

Finish Strong.

The “Secret Sauce” for Fine-Art Image Processing

Nik Collection plug-ins have been my "secret sauce" for creating images with impact after processing RAW files in Lightroom.
Nik Collection plug-ins are my “secret sauce” for creating images with impact after processing RAW files in Lightroom.

Photography, like any other medium, is a craft. In woodworking, you produce a finished product through a serial application of sandpaper, working from coarse to fine. The best finish is only obtained after using the finest-grit sandpapers, sometimes even between coats of lacquer. So it is, too with photography.

Your camera settings apply the foundation of the image, but they cannot refine the image in the same way your editing software can. Even seemingly small adjustments can be the difference between a snapshot and a gallery print. For years, my “secret sauce” has been to finish images with the “Big 3” Nik Collection plug-ins (Color Efex/HDR Efex/Silver Efex).

For a limited time, my collection of PDF guides to the Nik Collection by Google are available for only $9.99 each. Or, you can purchase the set of three guides for only $24.99. No coupon code necessary!

Each PDF guide is user-printable and also includes a set of installable custom presets for the Nik Collection plug-ins.

Nik Collection PDF Bundle
Includes all three guides listed above

*Special Note: These products contain multiple files and are delivered as a ZIP archive.  To download the files to an iPad, you will need  a free ZIP utility, such as iZip for iOS. Android users should consider using WinZip. Otherwise, download and extract the files to a Mac or PC and then transfer them to your tablet device.

Dodging and Burning Digital Photos

Dodging and burning techniques have been around for over a hundred years. While you may think of these techniques as a method of adjusting and balancing tones, they also serve a more distinct purpose: enhancing and diminishing areas of interest in an image. Psychologically, your eye will be drawn towards bright, colorful areas in an image and away from dark, dull areas. With modern digital processing tools, we can take a 21st century approach to dodging and burning. Here’s a short video on how to accomplish this using Adobe Lightroom.

For a complete tutorial on using brushes in Adobe Lightroom, check out Lightroom: Mastering Brushes & Gradients (video workshop) 

Think Globally, Act Locally (With Video Tutorial)

Turquoise Lake, CO. This image is a great example of how local adjustments will serve you better in post-processing. I enhanced the foreground rocks without affecting the smoothness of the water and background elements by applying Clarity via the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom 5.
Turquoise Lake, CO. This image is a great example of how local adjustments will serve you better in post-processing. I enhanced the foreground rocks without affecting the smoothness of the water and background elements by applying Clarity via the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom 5.

When it comes to post-processing your images, we’ve got a ton of tools to work with, both in our RAW editors and in plug-ins. Sometimes, though, I’ll see images that just look completely over-done. Usually this occurs when the photographer sees an effect and cranks it up really high. But the problem is bigger than that. Often, we’ll create images that have regions that look great with a particular effect, but at the expense of other areas. This is what happens when you apply adjustments globally (to the entire image).

The majority of adjustment tools operate globally; contrast, saturation, sharpening, etc. While we need to make global adjustments to set the foundation of our image, some adjustments can wreak havoc when applied globally. A good example is the Clarity slider in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. This slider affects local contrast (textures) and is extremely powerful. It’s also a tool that can quickly get out of hand. While certain features look great with added Clarity, other areas of the image can start to look extra-terrestrial.

The solution for these types of images is to place specific adjustments only where you need them. I like to use the Clarity slider to examine my image for areas that would benefit from its application, but then I’ll add the effect with the brush tool in Lightroom. The same technique applies to Photoshop users, who can use selection masks to add effects subtly to specific areas of their image.

Here’s a short video I made that illustrates the “Think Globally, Act Locally” paradigm for digital photographers.

Abstract Aspens

Abstract Aspens
Abstract Aspens

I love photographing in aspen groves. If you let yourself have time to enjoy your surroundings, it can be a very serene experience. I took my clients to a couple of aspen groves during my Fall in the Rockies photo safari, and the colors were wonderful. However, the conditions don’t always lend themselves to great photographs and it can be hard to capture the feeling of the glowing trees in a photograph. The best conditions for fall colors are overcast or partly cloudy days. However, we had clear skies and very harsh light. What to do? Continue reading Abstract Aspens