I’ve just rolled out my online class schedule for July and August. In addition to my popular classes on Capture NX2 and NEF-Centric workflow, I’ve added two new “mini-workshops” on HDR techniques and image sharpening. These classes are virtual; you participate live via the Internet and you can ask questions via telephone or VOIP. Enrollment is limited; so be sure to register quickly before they sell out.
Luminescence of Nature Class Schedule (All times US Eastern)
I’ve been invited by Nik Software to present a free, one-hour webinar on processing landscape photographs using Capture NX2. I’ll be presenting the webinar on Tuesday, June 15th at 2:30pm PDT and again on Friday, June 18th at 2:30pm PDT. Registration is free. If you have been reading my new Landscape Guide, here’s an opportunity to reinforce some of the post-processing techniques I describe in Section III.
Remember, you can get a 15% discount on any NIK Software (USA) purchase by using the discount code “JODELL” in the NIK online shop.
The components of great landscape images, and what you can learn from film
My online workshops have been very popular this year. I’ve got two more scheduled for June, and then it’s time for a brief summer break. If you want to get in on one of my classes, this is the time to do it before summer vacation!
I currently teach two classes online. My Capture NX2 Advanced Imaging course is intended for photographers of all levels. In this four-hour course, I explain not only the fundamental tools for making selective adjustments in Capture NX2, but also the thought process behind using each tool. I also help the class explore the concept of “previsualization” in post-processing. For example, would you use the same adjustments for a portrait as you would for a landscape? Probably not. Learn what works for each type of image so that when you do edit your images you spend less time making adjustments and more time getting results.
My other workshop is for Capture NX2 users who are trying to optimize their end-to-end workflow. With my NEF-Centric Workflow course, you’ll learn how to drastically streamline your overall workflow so that you spend less time in front of the computer and more time behind the camera. The Nikon NEF file is fundamentally flexible, and has some distinct advantages if you use software that can take advantage of them. In this class, I will show you how to use the powerful workflow hub, Photo Mechanic, as the core of an incredibly fast and powerful workflow that lets you take advantage of everything the NEF file has to offer.
To participate in my online classes, you’ll need a high-speed Internet connection and either a telephone (USA toll number) or a headset microphone to use with your computer (free). Attendance is limited!
Back in the film days, workflow was pretty easy. Shoot a roll of slides, send it in for processing, and then put the results on my light table and pick out the select few images to scan and print. With film, many creative decisions were made for you. Each film type had a particular look and feel to it; the color palettes and contrast responses varied between emulsions. With film, what you saw in the slide was pretty much what you got out of a scan. Moreover, with film, I shot far fewer images than I do now with digital. The tangible cost component of film shooting kept the number of images down for most casual shooters. Shoot a couple of 36-exposure rolls, pick the keepers, scan ’em and you’re done. Scanning slides was a tedious enough process that I really only chose the best images to scan.
Today, we shoot hundreds or even thousands of images with our DSLRs and high-capacity memory cards. Transferring these images to your computer only takes a few minutes, and there is no agonizing wait for film to return from the lab or the scanner to scan the slide/negative. That means we’re quickly filling up our hard drives with images that may have never even made it into a slide sleeve in the film days. Moreover, unless you shoot only JPEG, you are now the photo lab. Instead of choosing a film type to get a particular “look,” we have to process our own RAW files to achieve a desired result. The prospect of processing thousands of files is intimidating, to say the least.
If you shoot for your own personal pleasure, I’d like to recommend simplifying your workflow. Don’t put yourself into a position where you must process EVERY SINGLE FILE. Simply put, you don’t need to. Start by trying to get things right in your camera. Choose the right white balance and get the exposure right. Use camera settings that are appropriate for your subject– don’t shoot a portrait session using “VIVID” mode; you wouldn’t shoot a wedding with Velvia film, right? Once you’re back from your shoot. be picky. Choose the select few images that you really want to share, and only process those. Not only will you save time in post, but your friends and family will appreciate that you didn’t bombard them with every variant of every shot in a 100MB email bomb!
For more on my workflow and how I have integrated modern tools with Capture NX2, sign up for my NEF-Centric workflow workshop!
One of the things I like about shooting in RAW is that I have the ability to override my in-camera settings during post-processing. The RAW safety net is tremendously useful, even if you get most things “right” on a shoot. One thing I don’t like, however, is using software that automatically throws away my in-camera settings because it thinks it is smarter than me. When I preview my images, I want to see what I had shot in-camera, even if I got it “wrong” (I like to learn from my mistakes).
I’m mostly talking about image browsers, here. All these products that are “RAW saavy.” That’s really just code for “built-in RAW converter” that will ignore all your in-camera settings. The problem with multiple RAW converters is that each one works with its own set of instructions. If you use Browser “A” to view your files, then process them in Application “B”, when you go back to Browser “A,” you won’t see any changes in your image previews. This conundrum is why we’re seeing a big push towards “soup to-nuts” products like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Apple Aperture.
Take for instance, the scenario where you shoot NEFs using different Nikon Picture Controls. By default, you can make four different core settings in your camera:
When you look at the LCD preview on your camera, you can tell the difference between the images. Neutral is low-contrast and low-saturation, while vivid is high-contrast and high-saturation. And monochrome, well it’s black and white.
Now consider what happens when you download those same four images and preview them in a browser that has its own RAW engine: