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07-25-2009, 03:23 PM   #1
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Your most basic PP method?

I am still learning PSE and am curious about what you do to every photo you process. Would anyone mind giving me a quick breakdown of it?

Also, I am finding that my conversions are a bit underexposed, and a bit shallow in tone. I used to have access to PS7, but only have PSE now for converting to B&W. Any tips there? Thank you!

07-25-2009, 03:38 PM   #2
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Hi Kierra,

PP can be as involved or as simple as you would like to make it.
If you're shooting in JPEG and just editing in PSE thereafter, there isn't as much scope for adjustments (without degrading quality) as there would be with shooting RAW, and allowing CameraRAW to do the initial PP work.

Nevertheless - simple stuff like auto levels are usually helpful, but each photo needs different levels and effects to get the desired effect.

Best thing is to get it right in camera first before applying PP.
07-25-2009, 03:44 PM   #3
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You might want to look into Lightroom 2.4 for a more intuitive approach to postprocessing RAW files. Trial version is available from Adobe if you want to take it for a test drive.
07-25-2009, 03:53 PM   #4
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Well, I pretty much always shoot RAW and often I pull the blacks down a bit and then I adjust levels and occasionally increase saturation a bit. Is this pretty typical? I think it works for my color work, but again I am having trouble with conversions in PSE...

07-25-2009, 04:42 PM   #5
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Different images might need different things, and of curse there might be certain images where you just have some unique creative idea you want to try. But as far as basic bring-the-image-up-to-snufff processing, I generally look at the following:

- crop / rotation
- overall exposure
- white balance
- other adjustments to exposure as necessary - curves, fill light, highlight recovery, contrast, local contrast enhancement, etc
- other adjustments to color as necessary - saturation, vibrance, hue
- noise reduction
- sharpness
07-25-2009, 05:04 PM   #6
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Just as an interesting counterpoint to Marc's very good list:

QuoteQuote:
- crop / rotation
I never bother cropping initially and usually not at all.

QuoteQuote:
- overall exposure
I almost always bump the exposure by at least a stop

QuoteQuote:
- white balance
I change this all the time too, although it's usually more for effect

QuoteQuote:
- other adjustments to exposure as necessary - curves, fill light, highlight recovery, contrast, local contrast enhancement, etc
I'm all over those!

QuoteQuote:
- noise reduction
I never fiddle with the default settings for the noise reduction in my primary software unless it's to turn it completely down. I haven't used noise reduction software like NeatImage or NoiseNinja for over a year. I've just come to embrace the noise I get and live with it.

QuoteQuote:
- sharpness
I never fiddle with the default sharpness settings either. I remember getting into rather heated debates about the best ways to sharpen back in the day (unsharp mask? high pass filter?) and now I never touch the stuff. Just goes to show how much we can change, even as photographers
07-25-2009, 07:56 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by K McCall Quote
I'm all over those!
Funny, I hear 'overdose' as it can be easy sometimes to overdo these "adjustments"

For sharpness, I mostly leave it at Lightroom defaults. I also used to oversharpen. My favourite tool when I need good sharpening is Nik Sharpener, works very well for web sized pictures.

KierraElizabeth, if you use PSE, I'd suggest to use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) that comes with it. If you shoot in raw you'll see the ACR dialog appearing but you can also set up PSE (not quite sure as I use mostly CS3) to use ACR for JPEG too. Check your documentation about that.

Once ACR is open you can do all the basic adjustments needed. The first things I do is to:
- check the WB or manipulate it to get some effects.
- adjust the exposure
- play with fill light and black as needed

Once you get used to ACR it's very easy to use Lightroom which is based on the same engine but adds Digital Asset Management and is faster to work with a lot of pictures than PSE.
07-27-2009, 12:32 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by KierraElizabeth Quote
I am still learning PSE and am curious about what you do to every photo you process. Would anyone mind giving me a quick breakdown of it?

Also, I am finding that my conversions are a bit underexposed, and a bit shallow in tone. I used to have access to PS7, but only have PSE now for converting to B&W. Any tips there? Thank you!
I always start from RAW, but most of these are valid for JPEG as well.

(The zeroth thing I do is white balance adjustment, which I'm not sure if you can do on JPEGs in PSE. In any case, RAW gives you a lot more leeway here).

The first thing I do is cropping. When taking action pictures, I usually don't have the luxury of getting the composition exactly right in the camera, so I zoom out a bit instead and then crop to improve composition. Today's cameras have more than enough resolution for that.

Second, I adjust levels. This is a great way to learn the basics of post processing. Start with hitting auto-levels, and then experiment a bit yourself dragging sliders around. After that you can start experimenting with curves, which gives you even more control.

Finally, I usually sharpen a bit. That's all!

07-27-2009, 12:53 AM   #9
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curves. its always curves.

Last edited by séamuis; 07-27-2009 at 09:35 AM.
07-27-2009, 07:57 AM   #10
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Just to clarify about my list - the things on its are the things I want to make sure are the way I want. Many images won't actually need me to change anything on the list, but those are the things I'm thinking about when trying to decide if I want to do anything. And of the images that I do PP, very few require adjustments in *all* of those areas. Some of the things on the list get adjusted for many images, some I generally leave alone. Noise reduction, for example, I have a preset for that I apply when shooting at high ISO only. Color tweaks above and beyond WB are another thing I do only rarely, but exposure tweaks beyond the basic overall brightening/darkening are very common for me - the painter in me wants full control over just how dark my midtones are relative to my shadows and lights, how the transition for shadow to midtone to light looks, etc. Sharpness I have turned to +1 in camera which my PP software (ACDSee) automatically interprets as meaning I want it to apply some sharpening by default; I rarely see the need to turn that up or down from there. But I figure, it's part of the process, even if I rarely actually take any active step involve sharpening.
07-27-2009, 09:21 AM   #11
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If I'm not mistaken (and KE correct me if I am) I think the OP was asking about using PSE 7 to do B&W conversions. I'll take a stab at that, even tho I absolutely suck at B&W. After fiddling with the image in ACR to get it where I want it to be as a color photo, I then open it in regular PSE 7. Go to the "Enhancement" tab a play a bit with "shadows and highlights" sliders in the "lighting" section, and maybe a bit with levels (cntl + L). I then go down to the "convert image to Black and White" and play down there until I get as close to what I want as I can. They have a bunch of presets and sliders on all three color channels and contrast, the variations are endless, unfortunately I haven't found the right combo yet, but I keep trying!

NaCl(hope that helps)H2O
07-27-2009, 10:46 AM   #12
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My first, and often only, PP adjustment is Picasa's "I'm feeling lucky" button. This does a good job of applying curves for histogram adjustment.

I may later use more elaborate software. Picasa's adjustments are reversible.

I like Picasa for transferring photos to my computer and casual browsing of albums.
07-27-2009, 04:54 PM   #13
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You can get quite satisfactory results using the 'Guided Editing' function on PSE.
07-28-2009, 09:27 AM   #14
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Thanks for weighing in everyone! I have started using ACR and am very pleased with it. I still think my conversions are a little dark. Perhaps I need to increase my understanding of the filter controls in the B&W conversion options.

I have played with curves before, but I always seem to really screw things up with it.

I have not ever used the "Guided" option. Will give that a whirl!
07-28-2009, 05:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by KierraElizabeth Quote
I am still learning PSE and am curious about what you do to every photo you process. Would anyone mind giving me a quick breakdown of it?

Also, I am finding that my conversions are a bit underexposed, and a bit shallow in tone. I used to have access to PS7, but only have PSE now for converting to B&W. Any tips there? Thank you!
I always used PSE5, then 6, then 7 ... I took online courses on it, and never went to full-blown PS due to cost, and I figured PSE had everything I needed.

Then, I tried Lightroom 1.1 just a few months ago. Life changed!!! Those sliders are downright addictive. What I would have needed several different tools (and layers) for in PSE7, I could tweak with a few sliders. I recently upgraded to LR2.4 and it's even better because there are adjustment brushes galore.

I now do most everything through LR, then "Edit in Elements" when I need to remove acne, clone something in, or get creative with photo collages.
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