My Picture Editing Workflow
You all know, that my images are created, not just taken. I use my digital camera to capture the pixels (data, more precisely), but the magic only happens after I download the RAW file into my computer. I shoot in RAW, because I want to be able to make changes to the image to my liking, and I don’t want the camera to decide on those changes for me as it creates a JPG file. As you will see, there is a huge difference between the original and the final images, and the only reason I was able to achieve this is because I used a RAW file to begin with.
This image came from a photo shoot in mid-March of 2015. After checking my three tools, I found out that this morning the low tide was going to happen at the same time as the sunrise.
- Tide checker: Tide Graph App for Iphone or iPad, or check the times online
- Sunrise and sunset checker: online or with the TPE – iPad App.
- Where to go for the shoot: TPE – iPad App (it’s also available for the desktop)
In Laguna Beach, the photographically desired visible rise of the sun is a bit later than it is reported, because of the nearby hills. (Basically, the Sun rises at the time listed, but it doesn’t start lighting the scene for another 10-20 minutes.) I used my TPE App to locate the best spot in the area that had low-tide pools and would get the sun rays at the earliest time. That’s how I ended up at Treasure Island Beach.
The shoot did not turn out to be the best, because instead of sun rays and pretty, lit up skies we only saw somewhat ugly clouds. Therefore, I changed my focus from taking sunrise pictures to low-tide images. I kept very little of the sky in my pictures.
As a general rule for me, I take bracketed photos of landscapes and architecture. These are images taken at different exposures of the same composition, so you end up with 3, 5 or even more pictures of the same scene. The first one is very dark but shows highlights, like the sky in full detail, and on the last one the dark areas contain all the detail, but the highlights are blown out. The image I chose to work on is this one:
This is not a very appealing image, is it? But after you practice image editing long enough, you will see the potential even in an image like this. I chose the darkest one out of the three exposures, because I liked the reflection of the clouds in this one. BTW, those two spots in the top corners show you a mistake I made. I placed my Polarizer filter over my UV filter. 🙁
So, what did I do with this image to become one that I had imagined? First, I made changes to it in Lightroom 5. I used the lens correction feature and also straightened the horizon. Lately, most of my images are leaning to the left, even though I see the scene straight. Then, I made the following changes:
- warmed it up (adding yellow) and tinted it a little bit with magenta
- I raised the exposure by about 2 stops and added a bit of contrast
- pulled down the highlights and pulled up the shadows
- added some white and black
- added vibrance
After these changes this is what happened to the original image:
You can almost stop here, because you have a nice, presentable image. But I had more plans with it. I opened it in Photoshop 2014, and deleted all those white foamy spots on the water surface. Finally, I went to my finishing tool, Perfect Effects 8. I will show the Perfect Effect workflow at a different time, but what I like the most in it is the Dynamic contrast and the Sunshine filters, and I like to add one or more textures to my images to finish them off. Now, let’s look at the final image:
And, for an even better comparison, use the slider to see the original and the final image in the same space. I hope you like the final image as much as I do.