Week 18 – 124/365 + A How-To

Ok, since I’ve been way too lax, I decided to do a complete writeup on one of my post processed images. This image was also my first try at capturing water over the course of more than .2 of a second. Actually, I’ve never tried to capture a waterfall ever, so this was a pretty big success.

Anyways, I’m going to show you how to get the top image here to look like the bottom:

Before and After: Kilo


Step 1: Basic Tab

  • Keep the white balance “As Shot”
  • Recovery: 99. The details of the water breaking and rushing down the rocks was lost, so this helps (a little) in recovering the detail. We aren’t done getting that back though.
  • Fill Light: 30. The plants in the front were too dark. Fill light makes them brighter without affecting the background too much.
  • Blacks: 59. I pull that up to bring out more detail in the water and the shadows I may have lost by bringing the recovery up so high (usually when I bring Recovery and Fill light above 50 and 15 respectively, there is a lot of artifacts and damage done. Not this time, which was a nice surprise).
  • I used the Straighten tool to straighten the image, which is why there is the strange looking crop. Since this is a NEF file, nothing is ever actually permanent when I edit.

Step 2: Tone Curve

  • I rarely touch Highlights. I find that doing so makes an image look fake.
  • I brought the Light down a little, since the image was so bright.
  • Darks and Shadows I brought way down to get some details back.

Step 3: Camera Calibration

  • This is where I usually go and fix the Red, Green and Blue primaries, but in this image, going that far is not necessary. We skip now on to Photoshop.


Step 1:

  • First and foremost, DUPLICATE THE BACKGROUND!!
    • Why was that caps? I have messed up too many times by editing the background without a duplicate, and not being able to grab the original image. Save yourself from a headache and make a duplicate.
  • This image is ok, not something I’m going to put on anything but Flickr at a reduced size, so I’m going to resize it way down.
    • My original size is 4050w by 2690h at 240 pixels-per-inch, which is basically a tabloid sheet of paper (16.8×11.2)
    • Way too big for Flickr, and way too tasty for anyone to steal for whatever reasons. I drop the PPI (pixels per inch) down to 72. The width and height are 700×465 since I do want to share this at some point on the DPS board.
      • The lower the resolution (PPI), the less attractive an image will look when printed. My camera can capture 300 PPI which looks great printed, and for web I save at 72 which looks like something you would get from a teacher’s lounge on a good day. It looks good enough for the web and is faster to load.

Step 2:

  • Wow, that was a lot of information for step one. I hope no-one’s head exploded!
    Anyways, now that we have a duplicate layer, I do the following. Just looking at the following picture will help rather than me trying to explain it:

You see it? Ok, break time is over, next bullet

  • There is no ‘formula’ for playing with Shadows and Highlights. What works for one image rarely ever works for the next, so you have to play with the sliders back and forth until you are comfortable.

  • In the image where you see where I set the sliders, you can see that the leaves are darker again, but I am keeping this because the leaves are not the central point. The water is. You have to remember, the photograph has to have a subject in mind. Mine is not the plant life, it is the water that is framed.

Step 3:

  • Ok, I know every one of you is looking at that darned vine on the right side. I am now going to take care of it in the pre-CS5 fashion. All I have to do in CS5 is circle the ugly thing with the Lasso Tool, hit Control + F5 and bam-wham-BOOM content aware fill removes it with nary a stitch.
  • So this is were we duplicate the later we edited with Shadows and Highlights. Again? Yes, I know, but you don’t want to have to start back at square one if something happens right? Right.

Step 4:

  • There is a tool called the Healing Brush Tool. It looks like a band-aid on your Tool Bar. On some computers you’ll see the Patch Tool instead, which appropriately looks like a patch. Either way, you can do the same thing I am about to do. If you want to switch, you click and hold the icon and a fly-out menu will appear, showing the other options.
  • I am going to use the HBT in this lesson, and I will use the PT in another. Basically, you can Alt + click an area to the left or right of where you want to get your ‘reference’ for fixing the image. Below is an example:
  • Ok, I won’t do something bad like that, but I’m showing you that its duplicating background over where I want to edit. I change the brush to how I need it (Hardness 0%, size always changes for necessity) and paint.

Step 5:

  • Hey! Wasn’t there a vine in the image? Could have sworn there was! 🙂 I’m so snarky. Anyways, we’re at the finish line. What do we do next?
  • Well, since we’re uploading to Flickr, we can’t just leave it ‘as is’. The thing that kills me about Flickr is that they always sharpen images when you upload them. Yes, Flickr edits your images. It’s unnoticeable to about 99% of people, but it bugs me. Bugs me enough to give my images a slight blur, just the slightest of blurs (you can use Gaussian or Box, I wouldn’t recommend anything else) so that when you upload to Flickr, the end result is how it SHOULD look.

So that’s it! This image was surprisingly good in that the vine was easy to get out and there actually wasn’t a ton to do. It made for a nice tutorial to make.

And by the by, I wrote this while actually doing the processing so I wouldn’t forget anything like last time. On some images you can even see the word document I have open explaining this 🙂

Final Image:



4 thoughts on “Week 18 – 124/365 + A How-To

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Week 18 – 124/365 + A How-To « My 365 Photog Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, iwspo.net

    • Thank you very much Christian! I’m glad I do good enough work to keep people coming back for more!

      Sorry it took so long for your comment to appear. Since you put your website in the comments field, WordPress automatically sent the comment into the spam folder.

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