Color Post-Processing Presets

Summary – This is a sequel to yesterday’s post on B&W presets. It’s no different for color – presets abound.

Good-bye 2013

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Here’s a sampling

Two images each for color presets from

LR, Nik, onOne, & Topaz

There are hundreds more not shown here

The original color image is at the first position

Click any image for a full screen slide show

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I never use a color preset (unless I created it)

I know how I want the image to look

and know how to get there

Presets just give me

A bunch of settings that must be undone

Better to start with NO (pre)settings

A clean slate

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Stay safe tonight

If you’re celebrating the arrival of the new year

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Black & White Post-Processing Presets

Summary – Post-processing presets are common. Most programs have them. They are good either as they are or as a starting point for your adjustments. Also, they are wonderful for answering – “How did they do that” (open the preset & look at the settings).

Post-processing presets are ubiquitous

Just in B&W – LR, Nik, onOne, & Topaz

Combined, have nearly 300 presets

Use these as starting points & you have

Virtually limitless B&W options

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Here’s a sampling

Two images each for the B&W presets from

LR, Nik, onOne, & Topaz

There are still about 300 that are not shown 😉

The original color image leads the parade

Click any image for a full screen slide show

Sparks Lane in Cades Cove (Great Smokies NP)

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For myself, I rarely use presets

Certainly not for more than a starting point

But – that’s just me 😉

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onOne Perfect Photo Suite Initial Impression

Summary – Looking into image processing programs from OnOne, and Topaz.  Today – an initial impression of Perfect Photo Suite 8 by onOne Software.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud & Google’s takeover of Nik Software

Caused me to start looking at alternatives for

Nik Collection, Lightroom, & Photoshop Elements

Just in case (plus I’m a software junkie)

onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite could replace them ALL

And – for less $$$

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Roll mouse for the before

001D300_090620_131722__DSC7184_orig_on1blog 001D300_090620_131722__DSC7184_origblog

500′ above Lake Michigan; Sleeping Bear Dunes

B&W conversion using onOne’s Perfect B&W

Just as capable as Nik’s Silver Efex Pro

Input was an unprocessed RAW file (the before above)

Ran Perfect Suite in its stand-alone mode

No need for any other post-processing program – none

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I’ll have much more to say about Perfect Photo Suite

Too many other things on the old plate right now

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Do You Need Photoshop CS6? Just PSE? Neither?

Summary – A follow-up to today’s earlier Adobe black Friday sale post where a comment was left asking what PS CS6 could do that PSE couldn’t. Here’s my reply in case you missed that exchange.

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Question –

Can PSE 12 really replace PS CS6? What can’t you do with it?

Answer –

PSE does (per Adobe) 85-90% of PS. I have CS2 and never use it since PSE + LR5 (+ plug-ins) handle my needs just fine.

Here’s an excellent article on the question of what PS can do & not PSE (& vice versa – scroll down to “Compare Photoshop CS6 vs. Photoshop Elements 11” – very slightly out of date since the offer is for 12). The article also adds LR to the mix. If you own LR or are considering it, a better version of the original question is can LR + PSE 12 replace PS CS6. And – don’t forget to include features of other software you may own (like the Nik Collection) and how they may fill some holes.

Only you can determine whether there’s a “does &  doesn’t do xyz” in that list that is essential for what you do. If you find such items, I’m sure that I & other readers would appreciate hearing back. Like, for myself, PSE’s lack of full 16 bit image processing would be a problem were it not for using LR in combination with the Nik Collection for example. A specific place where this comes into play is with HDR Efex Pro – in case you didn’t know why of the entire Collection, this one program won’t run in PSE (HEP needs 16 bit). But that’s no reason to buy the full CS6 – HDR Efex can run stand alone and/or can be called from LR.

One other thought as you scan the comparison. If you see an item missing from PSE that’s important – Curves jumps right out – ask yourself whether you don’t already have Curves else where. In my case it’s in the Nik Collection in several places (CEP4 for example) and LR. So, even though it’s in PS and not PSE, that difference may not matter depending on what other programs you have and how they fit in your personal workflow. For me, even if PSE had Curves I’d never use it there – for me, PSE is simple a convenient means for compositing images, adding text and acting as a plug-in host.

Also consider that PS CS6 will eventually be outdated by the cloud version. LR & PSE are available without subscribing to the cloud.

Bottom line is that CS is overkill for me (and I suspect most amateurs – and pro’s even). Check it out & let us know your take on the comparison as it affects your processing. Looking forward to your reply….

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Bottom bottom line – If you shoot Raw and make proper in-camera captures the vast majority of your images will need nothing more than what LR (or equivalent) can do – and most of them will need very little of that even.

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Night Photography and HDR

Summary – Night Photography and HDR are not synonymous – far from it. HDR solves the problem of a scene whose contrast exceeds a sensor’s dynamic range. This is almost never the case at night (except possible specular highlights from lights – but lights are supposed to look that way so that’s not a real problem).

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001_DSC0364-3 cepblog

Manassas Station

Single exposure

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Click any of the following for full size

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Progression from capture to final: easy-peasy

ACR for shadow/highlight work

CEP4 to fine tune tonal & color contrast (& fix WB)

11-25-2013 4-47-14 PM

Capture – There were no tones in this scene

The sensor didn’t capture except a few lights

(A 6 MP dinosaur from 2003 – not state of the art)

The fact that the light bulbs were just bright-colored tones

Is not a problem

That’s exactly how they appear in real life

Don’t obsess over non-problems

To capture a scene like this (shoot in Raw!)

Your goal is get the histogram as far right as possible

Without overexposing important parts of the scene

Check the histogram for “blinkies”

Adjust using Exposure Compensation

Until the histogram satisfies the goal

Don’t worry much about shadows

If they’re not climbing the histogram’s left wall

Post-processing shadow recovery is there for you

Post-processing

As an example, here’s Basic Adjustment module in LR

Work it, as intended, from the top to the bottom

If you use something else,

Still follow the same general order

Big stuff first

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Little other processing should be needed

Concentrate on these basics

Fancy plug-ins usually not needed

Just a little practice & then it’s easy

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Another example

Histogram reflects captured image

Left side is capture, right is after LR ACR

Blue is blocked shadows, red is blown highlights

Three different exposures are shown

Illustrates that precise exposure isn’t needed

Not much difference between the three “finals”

What there is can be adjusted quickly

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11-25-2013 12-03-23 PM

11-25-2013 12-00-55 PM

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The next example uses HDR – Photomatix Pro 5

Two versions – using the same three captures show above

Top is a pretty picture but is clearly “HDR”

Bottom uses Photomatix ‘s single Raw image Exposure Fusion

Bottom is not as good as the above three examples

No further post-processing after Photomatix

11-25-2013 12-21-56 PM 11-25-2013 12-33-15 PM

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Comparing non-HDR and HDR

Before and after additional processing in CEP4

11-25-2013 2-49-15 PM

Some might prefer the HDR

They feel its brightness is better

If it’s a night scene, I disagree

The top image is the way it really looked

Unless your objective isn’t reality

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Dealer’s choice

I myself feel that HDR is overused

Note – I didn’t say never-needed

If you don’t agree, then HDR is the right choice for you

HDR is most definitely needed for

Interior shots with a window (on a bright day outside)

001_DSC0564_5_6_7_8_tonemapped v5blog

Inside light was from the far window (no indoor lights)

I couldn’t see the camera’s controls

Outside it was mid-day and very bright

No way could the circa 2003 sensor capture all of the tones

Five bracketed exposures

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Photomatix Pro – upgrade from 4 to 5

Summary – HDRSoft recently released an upgrade to their industry standard HDR program, Photomatix. Here are example results as compared with their main competitor, HDR Efex Pro. Both get the job done so, unless you’re a fan boy, choose between them for reasons other than performance.

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Click for a very large version

11-21-2013 5-07-32 PM

The above were all made with default settings

An apples to apples comparison

11-21-2013 4-11-12 PM

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Should you upgrade?

Sure – at $29.99 it’s worth it

Should you buy it? Depends….

If you already own the Nik Collection – no

Not that I think HDR Efex Pro (HEP) is better

I don’t, but it’s good enough

If you don’t already own HDR software, but want to – probably no

For a little more money ($149 vs. $99)

You can buy the entire Nik Collection which

Has HDR plus a whole lot more

I say “probably” because I’m less than happy with

Google’s current mishandling of the Collection

If I were starting from scratch? (without any $ considerations)

Photomatix – it’s a little better & a lot more complete

Offers Exposure Fusion & HEP doesn’t

Ditto batch processing & some other “stuff”

I’ll touch on these in a later post

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Photography Skill Improvement – Suggestions

Summary – A number of skills go into making a good photograph. These skills depend and build upon one another. If you’re learning woodworking, there are many skills to be learned before concerning yourself with paint, stain and other finishing skills. You have to learn to build something first. So it is in photography.

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Click on any image to open a slide show

Monet had his haystack and water-lily series

I have this grand old oak tree

Much more instructional & rewarding for me than

Making multiple post-processing versions of the same capture

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A photography club  friend recently attended

Van Gogh Repetitions at the Phillips Gallery

35 paintings made up of

Multiple versions of 13 subjects

11-18-2013 10-05-52 AM

11-18-2013 10-21-03 AM

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In Van Gogh’s day making copies was

A key part of art training (but probably not VG’s motivation)

My friend thought that repetitions, applied to photographs,

Might be a good project for club members

He suggested –

….give an image to people, then ask them to come up with 3 or 4 versions by different processing, then explain what they were trying to accomplish in each one….

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While I thought the idea was very worthwhile

Starting with post-processing puts the cart before the horse

Post-processing is part of craftsmanship

and – a minor part at that (as I wrote previously)

Camera skills and technique are more important

Good composition (visual design) trumps post-processing

and – Is learned using a camera, not a computer

My suggestion was – and still is –

Spend time with a subject – work it

Shoot it in different seasons, different light, etc.

With different lens from different angles & positions

Vary exposure, focus, DOF, color (yes, change WB)

Then, and only then, is it time to take these images

and – See what P-P adds or subtracts from the equation

Both in-camera and post-processing are parts of the total package

but – the order in which they are learned should matter

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Van Gogh wasn’t the only painter to do repetitions

Monet was another famous example – he called his “series”

One such series was “Haystacks”

Monet’s approach to “copies” differed from Van Gogh’s

Van Gogh’s approach more nearly approximated

My friend’s post-processing suggestion

OK, since VG had his basic painting skills down pat

Monet’s approach is closer to my suggestion of

Working the subject to explore basic techniques

He didn’t limit his series to haystacks

11-19-2013 7-45-06 AM

Monet’s greatest series was his water lilies

About 250 paintings of lilies in his garden

Made over a period of 30 years

He was attempting to feel & see a subject

in different ways at different times

VG’s repetitions were about applying different

Color schemes & adornments to the same composition

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11-18-2013 11-59-05 AM

Neither artist’s approach is right or wrong

It comes down to what you want to accomplish

At our amateur level of photography

We all need camera skill improvement first

Before post-processing

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If you look at VG’s repetitions

They not only changed a painting’s color, tone & contrast, but

Also added or replaced major elements of the painting

Somewhat similar to replacing the sky in a photo

Or adding a person to provide a subject or point of interest

(look at the water reflections and the people  in the first pair

very different

and – the background in the portrait

completely replaced

“advanced” PS, all)

Not where someone with average or worse camera skills should begin

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