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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Birds 
Thread started 31 Aug 2011 (Wednesday) 19:19
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What is your post processing secret?

 
kevindar
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Aug 31, 2011 19:19 |  #1

I am still fairly new to bird photography. I usually shoot landscape, and much of the processing involved local exposure adjustments, and some saturation. I did a lot of this in Lightroom, and some in Photoshop.
I just went back and processed some of the bird images I have taken a couple of months ago, and have to say, to my surprise, there is a lot of improvement to be had with software. I have tried topaz NR, and Nik sharpening, which seems to make a lot of difference in the detail of the image, without increasing noise.
So what is your general processing workflow with bird shots? and any before and after samples would be great. I will post some myself.


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Duane ­ N
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Sep 01, 2011 05:46 |  #2

I have no "secrets" so to speak. I don't buy anything that helps me edit my images other than Photoshop and I use the tools/filters that come with it. I like to keep things simple and feel it's better to get it right in camera instead of relying on special tools and filters.

I have only scratched the surface on what Photoshop can do but for right now my workflow consists of:

1. Converting a RAW file into a jpeg using Adobe Camera Raw.
2. Cropping the jpeg file to an 11 X 14 print at 300ppi.
3. Noise reduction on the background only using the surface blur filter.
4. Sharpening the subject using the smart sharpen filter.
5. Curves adjustment.
6. Save the print.
7. Re-size the print to 900 pixels on the longest side and add my watermark and save that for sharing.

What I share on forums is just a shrunk down version of my original print and no editing is done to it....not worth the effort as far as I'm concerned.

That is my basic workflow (in CS4) for every image I decide to edit. There are other steps I take depending on the subject (Egret, Eagle etc.) but it's not part of my general workflow. I think less is more and most of my editing is done during my RAW conversion.

I don't have a before and after of anything I've edited but I can share a simple image with just my basic workflow done to it. This is almost full frame.

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JTF
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Sep 01, 2011 06:18 |  #3

I don't use any specific software other than Preview that comes with my Mac. Crop and maybe sharpen main subject if necessary. Most adjustments are made while shooting IE: manual adjusting of exposure etc.

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LynnR
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Sep 01, 2011 06:21 |  #4

As little as possible. Get the shot right in camera is the best.




  
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kevindar
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Sep 01, 2011 09:50 |  #5

Duane, thanks for the surface blur tip. I have to try that.
Recently I have noticed than an export to photoshop, doing a topaz noise reduction on the duplicate layer, and then using nik sharpening plugin helps to bring out detail a lot while keeping noise under good control.


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Crimzon
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Sep 01, 2011 11:02 |  #6

I agree with LynnR. Less is more. If you have to spend too much time processing, you need to rethink what your methods are. Processing is a necessity though, but try to keep it down to slight exposure compensation, sharpening, contrast and cropping.

IMO the clone tool is way, way too overused. I hear people use it on themselves and tell others to use it way too much. If you need to clone out more then 5% you've done something wrong. I try and think about taking a shot as if I were shooting film, make em count.


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kevindar
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Sep 01, 2011 11:42 |  #7

Crimzon, my processing question is more about detail and noise actually. sharpening technique. Not as interested in cloning issues. just having that definition and pop in the image.


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ebann
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Sep 01, 2011 14:11 |  #8

question: sharpening should always be done after resizing right?


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Duane ­ N
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Sep 01, 2011 17:24 as a reply to  @ ebann's post |  #9

Sharpening should be your very last step. Each person does it differently and I sharpen second to last...then a curves adjustment.

And define "resizing". Resizing for what?

kevindar....I only sharpen what I want sharp...mainly the subject and perch or anything near it. I never sharpen the background.


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kevindar
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Sep 01, 2011 17:29 |  #10

Duane, so you do it on a duplicate layer. I found that its key to do noise reduction first. I also do that on a duplicate layer, and then brush in a mask of a certain opacity to main subject


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Duane ­ N
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Sep 01, 2011 18:05 as a reply to  @ kevindar's post |  #11

I select the subject to isolate it from the background, I invert the selection and do my noise reduction, I invert again and do my sharpening on the subject only.

My methods are unconventional to say the least. I don't use any masks, layers, brushes etc. when editing my images.

I use the same amount of the surface blur filter and smart sharpen filter on every image. I view the image in Adobe Camera Raw at 100% and if it's not sharp to my eye I don't bother editing it (I don't delete them though)...I think this is how I get away with using the same settings on every image and why my workflow is so simple and easy...at least for me.

I used to over process my images thinking I could salvage them in Photoshop but over the years I've learned it's easier to get it right in camera....I cannot stress this enough as others have stated....getting it right in camera is most important.


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Duane ­ N
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Sep 01, 2011 18:12 as a reply to  @ Duane N's post |  #12

I posted this on another forum and maybe this might help some out....

1. I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) as my RAW converter and CS4 to edit my images. Most of my images are converted from RAW to jpeg because I do very little in CS4..most of my adjustments are done in ACR.

2. I can't go into too much detail about my steps in ACR because each image is different for the most part. Exposure adjustments to taste, white balance to taste etc. I use sRGB color space and 8 bit. Here is an example of a RAW file I edited recently and you can see the basic adjustments I made on the right if you're familiar with ACR...

I'm a firm believer in getting it right in camera and doing as very little as possible when it comes to editing because truthfully...I hate the editing step in photography. But as we all know some images need more work than others.

3. Once the file is converted to a jpeg I open it in CS4 and the first thing I do is crop the image....about 99% of my images are cropped mainly for composition. I use a pre-set crop box set to 11 X 14 at 300 ppi. All of my images are edited as prints and 11 X 14 seems to be a common size...if I or someone else wants smaller prints I just resize the 11 X 14 accordingly.

4. My next step is noise reduction. I use the surface blur filter in CS4 to remove the noise. I select the subject and anything else that I want sharpened in the image with the quick selection tool ( " + " selected) with the brush set to "8". With the things selected in the image that I want sharpened I right click and choose "select inverse". I then choose "refine edge" and in this menu I have the radius set to 1.4 px, contrast at 9%, smooth at 10, feather at 3.7 px and contract/expand at 0%. I then do a surface blur (because once you have done the select inverse what I'm working on now is the background) with my settings at radius 10 and threshold at 3. I usually do this step twice depending on the amount of noise I'm dealing with.

5. Sharpening is next. I right click and choose "select inverse" once again and now I'm shaprening the things I want sharp and not touching the background. I again right click and choose "refine edge" and all my settings are the same in the menu except for the last part...I usually set the contract/expand to -20 to -40 percent. I use the smart sharpen filter only...amount 80%, radius 3.3, lens blur is chosen in the "remove" part and I have "more accurate" checked.

A little bit about how I sharpen my images......the hardest thing I had to deal with was how much of the sharpening filter I needed to apply to a print without actually having to print it out as a test to see if it was correct. I wasted a lot of ink and paper doing my testing and I was at a frustration point when thankfully another photographer gave me some suggestions on another forum. He explained the hardest thing with editing images is actually seeing what the print will look like without having to print it out. He devised a formula on his own and has shared it with a few people that asked for help...I was one of them. The unfortunate thing is I lost his PM so I can't pass on the exact details of his steps but he explained you need to find the resolution of the monitor you use (mine is 90) and to see the exact results of your sharpening filter you need to duplicate the image and resize it to your monitor resolution. Once you figure out how much of the filter you need to apply you use a multiplier of 3.3 and multiply 3.3 by the radius you use in the smart sharpen filter....you never change the percentage when applying the smart sharpen filter to the print...only the radius. I have lost a few people when I try to explain this step but to me I understand it and I don't even think about it anymore.

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6. I then do a curves adjustment to taste and maybe depending on the image I will go into the selective color menu and add +2 - +4 of yellow and neutral color by moving the black slider up...it seems to give the image a bit more pop.

7. Re-sizing for web display is my last step...what I post on the internet is actually a by-product of my prints. I re-size the largest side of the document dimensions to 2.666 inches which makes the image 800 pixels on the longest side. Here is a screen capture of all the boxes I have checked when I resize the image for web display....the last box should have the "bicubic sharper" chosen.

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digital ­ paradise
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Sep 01, 2011 18:32 |  #13

Here a couple of good videos I found recently. The presenter talks about 3 different methods - USM, Smart Sharpen and High Pass (mostly for people. He converts the image into a smart object which is totally editable.

http://www.youtube.com …feature=player_​embedded#! (external link)

For some reason he deletes the filter mask at minute 5:37. I don't as I can use it to sharpen eyes and beaks again. I'll flatten the layer and then create another smart object.

First I resize the image, do all the editing - NR, color, etc. Do sharpening last.

Then do these steps

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Brush the areas you don't want sharpened. Notice in the box only the beak and eye will be sharpened. The rest has been masked out.

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Here I decided that I want the whole head sharp. So I brought up the white box and brushed over the head and it undid the masking from the previous image.

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Then you just flatten the image. Also remember he suggests to use use a radius of 3 for print. I find 0.03 to 0.05 works well for web.

These images were sharpened twice to enhance beaks, eyes, legs and I masked out the feathers so it did not look over sharpened.

Original

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After. Pushed a little hard just to show the results so there may be a few halos. Again you have total control.

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Another one after PP

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Here is a resizing video because they work together

http://www.youtube.com …4mV3NsLmXw&feat​ure=relmfu (external link)

More on smart objects. You can open a RAW file in a smart object and go back to it to make changes anytime during PP.

http://www.youtube.com …LyAd4&feature=u​ploademail (external link)

Image Editing OK

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What is your post processing secret?
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