View Full Version : The Sequence of Post Processing

Mad Aussie
02-18-2009, 03:19 AM
On friday evening we are having dinner with a friend who has a good interest in photography but she has little or no skills when it comes to post processing.

So the evening will be spent with me teaching her and her daughter (who is also becoming interested) the basics of post processing.

I've read before that the rough sequence to post processing an image is something like the following ...

1) Correct Lighting - curves, levels etc
2) Correct Colour - saturation, colour balance etc
3) Correct Composition and Elements - remove dust and other errors, crop etc
4) Resize - resize for web or set ppi for printing etc
5) Sharpening - should be the last thing you do before saving the file.

I've seen other sequences also though. For instance I've seen a list that states one of the first thing you should do is resize and crop before anything else.

Does anyone have a reliable source that lists such a sequence or what sequence do you follow if any at all? :confused:

Mad Aussie
02-19-2009, 01:24 AM
I've been looking around and about the only constant I've found is that most sources that appear reliable say that Sharpening should be the last step before saving the file.
Steps 1 - 3 that I listed above seem to be random depending on the source.

My way of thinking is that if there are things to fix within the photo, say for example redeye or dust, then they are going to be more apparent after correcting any lighting/exposure etc. Hence why I put that as my first step.

Colour comes next in my mind because now the exposure, white balance etc are correct, I can rely on the colours I see and correct them as needed.

Once all that's done I can decide on things like a crop, remove redeye, dust etc because I'm confident it's all showing as it would be in the final print if I did nothing at this stage.

Then it's resize before sharpening because that's what I've heard is best. Guessing has something to do with sharpening being affected by resizing.
I used to think working with more pixels throughoutt he post processing was the best way but apparently not for sharpening.

Anyone have a different take on this?

02-19-2009, 02:25 AM
My steps go this way,

Correct composition(if needed)
Lighting adjustments
Adjust color(if needed)
Dust spot removal(depending on which camera i use)
Noise Removal
Adjust image size(8x12 at 250dpi or 300dpi) ALWAYS!

These are all done on an as needed basis. There are many instances where only one change was made. It might have been dust removal, or sharpening. There are many occasions where I only one adjustment has been made. The image size adjustment is always done any every image that has print potential.

Mad Aussie
02-19-2009, 02:48 AM
Thanks for joining in JJ.

Do you have a particular reason(s) for your sequence of workflow you've listed there?

02-19-2009, 02:52 AM
my two cents worth!

after opening the image, i set the black and white end points to their values by choosing levels. make sure the preview box is checked. while holding down the alt (option for macs) key, move the right white input arrow to your left and the first white areas that you see are the brightest highlights and if you continue to move to the left, more white areas will appear thus increasing the specular highlights (this is different from the printable diffuse highlight with some detail). release both keys when you've reached the correct white point.
do the same with the left black input arrow.

{another way, without holding down the alt keys, move the right white input arrow to the point in the histogram where the highlight values begin.
the same with the left black input arrow. move it to the point in the histogram where the shadow values begin.}

then click the middle eyedropper and look for a neutral gray in the image such as tires, asphalt, unpainted concrete or shadows in white clothing. click on the neutral area. this helps establish the neutrality of the entire image and more or less balances the colors in the overall image.
if you think there is still a color cast, then you can fine tune it in the individual RGB channels.
if you still want to adjust, you can now move the middle arrow to adjust the middle tones to the right to make it darker or to the left to make it lighter.

only after these steps do i crop, resize. retouch, clean up, and lastly, if needed, some sharpening.

save as a copy to save the original image. i usually save lossless tiff and when needed i make a copy and save as jpeg.

Mad Aussie
02-19-2009, 02:57 AM
Cool Ed ... so in essence ... you follow the same steps as I do pretty much. ;)

02-19-2009, 03:23 AM
Its hard to correct anything until you have the correct crop first. Usually you try and fix that when you take the photo. Once the crop is correct, then I make sure the exposure is correct. From there the last step is always trying to make the image as sharp as possible. I pretty much follow the same steps in PP as I do when Im in the field with my camera. Gives me a routine to follow I guess.

Mad Aussie
02-19-2009, 03:26 AM
Its hard to correct anything until you have the correct crop first. Usually you try and fix that when you take the photo. Once the crop is correct, then I make sure the exposure is correct. From there the last step is always trying to make the image as sharp as possible. I pretty much follow the same steps in PP as I do when Im in the field with my camera. Gives me a routine to follow I guess.
You're not the first I've heard say to get the cropping done first.
Personally I'm not always certain of my crop (if I plan to do one at all) until I've seen what I can do with the rest of the photo.

02-23-2009, 06:25 PM
Another excellent teaching thread:highfive::highfive:

My workflow is almost identical to what's been posted here, and the cropping is an important point. I ALWAYS crop first.:twocents:

02-24-2009, 12:47 AM
No particular work flow, I look at all the images from a shoot, rate them, ignore them for a few days, do a second look, rethink my ratings and fine tune my selections and look at them with even a more critical eye second time around and I remove another lot.

Once I see the photo I have decided to work on then I know what I want it to look like and I start to work on it, with me their is no rhyme nor reason to my methodology, I just know with each photo where I want to end up, how I get there has never been something I have given much thought to, I just know what it will look like when I am done, I see the finished photo before I start. I know how to get there I just might do it one way one day and another way the next time.

I feel if I do some sort of workflow it would feel like a job, first do A, then B and so on. I want each photo that I do print to be its own work or series of prints in similar tones. I try and leave some creativity to the process. I may start out with an idea in mind but as I work on it, it leads to a look I may have not considered or have done before. Most end up with what I originally had in mind but on occasion just because my methods are random I end up with something I am far happier with then even my original look was going to be.

Then there are photos I take for to sole purpose of experimentation.

02-24-2009, 07:52 AM
I use photoshop CS3 and here is the process I generally use.
I use Camera Raw first and make adjustments to:
white balance
fill light
The clarity slider gives real pop to the shot.
I use the tone curve to adjust the contrast
In CR I love the little squares in upper left and right that when highlighted show the clipping in shadows and highlights.

I then open in PS.First I do a crop and clone out any problems.
Here I have the 2 Nik pieces of software called Viveza and Sharpening Pro. I also have colour efex but only use it for special tasks
I find, unless some special problem exists that I can make most of my adjustments to saturation, colour, sharpness etc here. Of course, the sharpening comes last.
Lastly I will size the shot if the crop hasn't already done that for me. Then convert to 8 bit and save in two locations as a tiff.