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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Best way to learn the basics of post processing.
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08/04/2013 12:40:48 PM · #1
Hello everyone, I recently picked up the camera after a long hiatus. I was a mediocre photographer with film when I was a teenager and now that I retook photography the technology is completely different. I have bought myself a nice camera and some nice glass and so far I am happy with the progress I am making but I have a HUGE technology gap to make up for.

I have bought Lightroom 4 and then upgraded it to 5, I have used Helicon focus to do some basic focus stacking, have used Photomatix for HDR but I feel lost as far as my work flow. I am looking for a recommendation on a course, book, You Tube video, web site that can teach me some basic post processing logic. I would like to understand where to start processing a picture, in which order to apply which tools etc. I know that there are probably endless variations to the PP work flow but I would like to get a basic understanding so that I stop feeling like I am moving sliders "Willie-Nilly" (I am not sure about the spelling of that phrase).

Thank you for your help.

Joaquin Barbara (drgoose)
08/04/2013 12:57:00 PM · #2
Ok, two pieces of advice. Both or neither may be helpful.

First - you're doing what you should be doing at this stage of development - futzing with the sliders is a great way to learn and understand what everything does.

Once you get to where you understand what the sliders do well enough to quickly move them to where you want them, it's time to move forward.

Moving forward, IMO, means developing one of two things, either a style which will demand a similar workflow on every photo, or a vision, which will require a different workflow on each image.

The difference, I think, is that for one you're making a photo fit within your style, and everything throughout the process is towards that end, while the other will require that you approach each image as it's own problem.

I think either is valid, and now is probably a great time to decide which path you'd like to head down. Style demands a heck of a lot less photoshop diversity, vision will always welcome new tools and techniques.

..

I'm sure others will disagree, and they may well be right to do so, but for me, those are the roads you might travel, neither is really fairer than the other.

Message edited by author 2013-08-04 13:09:46.
08/04/2013 12:59:11 PM · #3
what is it that you want to learn? post processing styles vary greatly with execution and desired results. post processing is as simple as adjusting contrast and exposure or creating a digital masterpiece, the level and extent to you wish to take it. generally you have some sort of end result you are attempting to accomplish, and you just need to learn how to make use of the software tools you have to accomplish it, there really isn't a correct way to process so long as you reach the desired end result.

i would start with lightroom since its a RAW editor, watch some of the short video adobe has online as how LR5 editing tools work. then just take an image an experiment with the global adjustment sliders, figure out what each do and how the images gets adjusted. next move onto the selective editing or spot editing. when LR can't do what it is you need then its time to move to photoshop which is its own topic.

it seems overwhelming but honestly the best approach is to just play with it all, you will actually pick it up pretty quick. its not as daunting as it seems. you can always pm me if you have a specific question or post i there, someone usually knows the answer, there are some smart cookies here.

Message edited by author 2013-08-04 13:00:54.
08/04/2013 02:29:38 PM · #4
good advices. never underestimate playing. I'm afraid I am stuck in preschool, almost hooked on the potentials of the simplest/global changes. At least I am learning what is there in the file - just tons and tons, and you needn't spend any more chemicals than are already polluting the earth to get at it.

BUT that can be the smallest part of the process. Really illustrative is the current editing thread.

08/04/2013 02:34:03 PM · #5
Originally posted by tnun:

Really illustrative is the current editing thread.


+1 - All of the images (should) have post processing details in the comments.
08/04/2013 03:26:31 PM · #6
If you have a lynda account or are willing to grab one, you can get a pretty decent photoshop tutorial specific to photographers. They also have courses for LR users. I'd also keep an eye on Creative live videos, sometimes they're quite good. 1x.com, DPC, and other similar sites have step by step procedures for learning specific edits. Youtube has thousands of videos dedicated to every part of the photographic process.

Hope this helps,

Devinder
08/04/2013 04:04:19 PM · #7
Practice, practice and practice. Look up tutorials for the style you like and find people that you really like their work and message them for advice.
08/04/2013 06:44:01 PM · #8
Ron Bigelow has an extensive list of Photoshop tutorials. I suggest you learn what Levels and Curves does then how to selectively apply them. After that you can start looking at adjustment layers and blend modes. The final thing you will need to learn is sharpening. Most photos here have some Unsharp Mask sharpening done after downsizing.

Tim
08/04/2013 06:53:30 PM · #9
Thank you for that link Tim.
08/04/2013 07:12:06 PM · #10
George Jardine has a video tutorial series for the Develop module of Lightroom, recently updated for version 5. I believe he worked for Adobe on Lightroom quite a while, which seems to help him present technical matter in a precise and highly understandable manner.

But what I really enjoy is that he spends a great deal of time on the artistic choices that drive "why" you might use one slider or another. That can be even more important than just knowing "what" a given slider does. He goes into greater depth and gives more practical examples than many other instructional videos I've seen. He does mention Photoshop aspects from time to time, and the artistic decision concepts apply regardless of your particular software. Six hours and 49 minutes of very useful content, and it costs less than a typical instructional book. He offers a sample video for free, so you can try before you buy. I don't have any ties to his product other than being a very satisfied customer.
08/04/2013 07:12:17 PM · #11
Originally posted by atupdate:

Ron Bigelow has an extensive list of Photoshop tutorials. I suggest you learn what Levels and Curves does then how to selectively apply them. After that you can start looking at adjustment layers and blend modes. The final thing you will need to learn is sharpening. Most photos here have some Unsharp Mask sharpening done after downsizing.

Tim


FWIW LR does all of that much easier.

i use lightroom to edit my images and then bring them into photoshop for cloning/liquify/healing among other things that lr cant do or really cant do well.

i tested out a LR5 and i was quite surprised that i was able to do a heavily polished portrait edit that looked just as good as the version i did in Photoshop. the kicker was that LR is terrible at handling massive quantities of spot edits performance significantly suffers.

speed and efficiency is a big concern with editing, if you do lots of editing or similar edits you want to do as much out of photoshop as you can, lightroom is much more efficient at editing, but Photoshop is much more powerful. there is a balance in the software you choose to use you need to find for your self that no none will be able to to you.
08/04/2013 07:59:12 PM · #12
Originally posted by Mike:

Originally posted by atupdate:

Ron Bigelow has an extensive list of Photoshop tutorials. I suggest you learn what Levels and Curves does then how to selectively apply them. After that you can start looking at adjustment layers and blend modes. The final thing you will need to learn is sharpening. Most photos here have some Unsharp Mask sharpening done after downsizing.

Tim


FWIW LR does all of that much easier.

i use lightroom to edit my images and then bring them into photoshop for cloning/liquify/healing among other things that lr cant do or really cant do well.

i tested out a LR5 and i was quite surprised that i was able to do a heavily polished portrait edit that looked just as good as the version i did in Photoshop. the kicker was that LR is terrible at handling massive quantities of spot edits performance significantly suffers.

speed and efficiency is a big concern with editing, if you do lots of editing or similar edits you want to do as much out of photoshop as you can, lightroom is much more efficient at editing, but Photoshop is much more powerful. there is a balance in the software you choose to use you need to find for your self that no none will be able to to you.


Many of his tutorials can be applied to other programs. I use PSP X4 and still learned a lot from his site.

Tim
08/04/2013 08:20:58 PM · #13
Just as a further opinion here - I've been using Capture One Pro instead of Photoshop lately, I finish up in PS, but Capture One Pro gives me a more film-like feeling to the shots, and I tend to get better results when processing them. (I shoot in RAW almost always)
08/05/2013 12:17:18 PM · #14
Thanks to everyone.
I will check out the links.
08/05/2013 12:21:18 PM · #15
Originally posted by drgoose:

Thanks to everyone.
I will check out the links.


check these out as well, gives you a very good run through of the capabilities of LR.

//tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom/
08/05/2013 05:59:12 PM · #16
While you're getting it all together, I think it's important to remember to make your edits in order from the most global to the least.

For example: edit to remove noise first. Edit to sharpen last.

There are many, many ways to sharpen.

Always crop last, if you crop at all.

Every time you lean back to smile & admire your work--save it.

[eta]
Congrats on your adventures into digital photography! This is one of the best learning sites around. Stay here.

Message edited by author 2013-08-05 18:00:39.
08/05/2013 06:15:49 PM · #17
Originally posted by pixelpig:


Every time you lean back to smile & admire your work--save it.


It has taken me years to learn this!
08/05/2013 06:20:45 PM · #18
Originally posted by tnun:

Originally posted by pixelpig:


Every time you lean back to smile & admire your work--save it.


It has taken me years to learn this!


Haha! The extra files can come in handy.
08/05/2013 06:23:31 PM · #19
Getting beat up here every week has been a strong learning experience. If you can routinely pull a mediocre finish on this site, your friends and family will be wowing over your photography.

And I agree that futzing with the sliders is actually getting somewhere. You are learning what works and what doesn't, as well as what you like.
08/05/2013 07:06:34 PM · #20
Originally posted by tnun:

Originally posted by pixelpig:


Every time you lean back to smile & admire your work--save it.


It has taken me years to learn this!


Ha! Me too! In fact I no sooner learn this than I forget it again, much to my detriment.
08/05/2013 08:38:01 PM · #21
Originally posted by pixelpig:

While you're getting it all together, I think it's important to remember to make your edits in order from the most global to the least.

For example: edit to remove noise first. Edit to sharpen last.

There are many, many ways to sharpen.

Always crop last, if you crop at all.

Every time you lean back to smile & admire your work--save it.

[eta]
Congrats on your adventures into digital photography! This is one of the best learning sites around. Stay here.


very sound advice especially when a raw editor in combination with other software as once you export a tiff you lose the non destructive edits. i have learned to actually take the unedited raw right into Photoshop and and do my cloning, healing, dodge and burn etc, and then go into LR and apply the adjustments to the tif or psd. this way i have non-destructive edits all the way back to my base image.

Message edited by author 2013-08-05 20:38:36.
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