Old 01-11-2007, 02:16 AM   #1
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Default My workflow (for Ween and anyone else)

In another thread Ween was complaining about the lack of sharing. So here I go, this is my overall processing workflow (except for raw conversion) using PS Elements 3. Everyone, chime in! Or not!

First, I convert from raw. This makes use of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) which is the front end that comes with Elements; a more capable version is the front end for PS. I won't discuss that further, that is an entirely separate topic. BTW, the book "RAW 101," while overpriced for its thickness, is excellent if you are new to raw conversion, especially if you are using ACR with PS or PS Elements. Maybe I ran across it a bit too late to feel I received full $$ value because I knew a fair amount of it already.

Anyway, once I am processing in PSE3, the very first thing I do is a brightness/contrast adjustment. If there is one piece of advice I have for the beginner (at least a beginner who knows that one has to sharpen), it is this. Increase contrast. I start with a +5 along with a -5 on brightness and see
how that looks. I recently went through old pictures and couldn't believe how bad they were without this. (This assumes a certain level of quality coming out of the camera. If you are shooting jpg and have set an increase in contrast in the body, you can skip this. But at least spend time making sure you have done it well, whether in camera or in software.)

I then crop if needed. I spend a lot of time on this. As my RR shots are just about all for the web, I take big chunks out if I feel like it, I can afford to lose pixels.

Now I start general exposure control, beginning with levels. I then try special things, such as brightening shadows (even though the scale goes up to something like 100, never more than +2 or 3, or the results look fake and/or the colors shift in a wierd way). Lately I've started doing a local contrast enhancement, which gives an image some "pop" and reduces the effect of any haze. To do it, use unsharp mask but with substantially different settings: 20/60/0 is what I use. Lately I've been finding the effect too strong so I have been doing it in a separate layer so I can reduce the impact.
I guess that is not part of a beginner workflow but gives an example of how one can do more. I just added that to my bag of tricks in the last month or two. (I need to teach myself curves sometime, but haven't gotten around to it.)

Then I look at color a bit. I'm not a big fan of super saturation, but I will take a look at increasing saturation on specific colors, especially a CSX yellow nose whose paint has faded. Or a bit of increase in blue and/or cyan to get the blue sky going a bit. I prefer saturation by color range as doing an overall saturation increase doesn't usually get me what I want. It can especially make ballast that has some brown in it look wrong.

Then, I resize as appropriate, using bicubic. I then convert from 16-bit to 8-bit so I can save in jpg. Finally, I sharpen. For me, something like 75/.6/0 works well almost all of the time if I am making something for the web. For printing, what works for me is to zoom the picture until its dimensions on the screen match the dimensions at which it will print, then sharpen accordingly.

Finally I save, using the option that saves EXIF data (so NOT using Save For Web in PSE3). For web display, I often go for a file size of just over 200k pixels. For RP submission, pretty much the highest quality setting every time.

Hey, I'm nobody special, but there it is anyway! Ween, everybody else, your turn!
My RP pix are here.
My Flickr pix are here.

My commentaries on rail pictures are in my blog.

RP Photo Albums:
Engine Details
Farm and Train
Railroad Details
Signal Details
Switchstand Shots
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Old 01-11-2007, 03:57 AM   #2
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Ween, everybody else, your turn!
Ha! Here're a couple of older threads with techniques that served me fairly well (in which others chimed in too with their techniques, long before JRMDC joined the fray and thought people complained too much about lack of participation!)...

From April 2005:

From September 2005:

When I get home, I'll give a go on what my workflow currently looks like...
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