When it comes to post-processing your images, we’ve got a ton of tools to work with, both in our RAW editors and in plug-ins. Sometimes, though, I’ll see images that just look completely over-done. Usually this occurs when the photographer sees an effect and cranks it up really high. But the problem is bigger than that. Often, we’ll create images that have regions that look great with a particular effect, but at the expense of other areas. This is what happens when you apply adjustments globally (to the entire image).
The majority of adjustment tools operate globally; contrast, saturation, sharpening, etc. While we need to make global adjustments to set the foundation of our image, some adjustments can wreak havoc when applied globally. A good example is the Clarity slider in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. This slider affects local contrast (textures) and is extremely powerful. It’s also a tool that can quickly get out of hand. While certain features look great with added Clarity, other areas of the image can start to look extra-terrestrial.
The solution for these types of images is to place specific adjustments only where you need them. I like to use the Clarity slider to examine my image for areas that would benefit from its application, but then I’ll add the effect with the brush tool in Lightroom. The same technique applies to Photoshop users, who can use selection masks to add effects subtly to specific areas of their image.
Here’s a short video I made that illustrates the “Think Globally, Act Locally” paradigm for digital photographers.
I love photographing in aspen groves. If you let yourself have time to enjoy your surroundings, it can be a very serene experience. I took my clients to a couple of aspen groves during my Fall in the Rockies photo safari, and the colors were wonderful. However, the conditions don’t always lend themselves to great photographs and it can be hard to capture the feeling of the glowing trees in a photograph. The best conditions for fall colors are overcast or partly cloudy days. However, we had clear skies and very harsh light. What to do? Continue reading Abstract Aspens→
I’ve been taking lots of infrared images with my converted Nikon 1 V1 camera. It’s not just because I think infrared is cool, but there is a method to the madness. Any time you get a new piece of gear, whether it’s a lens, camera, or accessory, you need to learn it. That means spending some serious time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your gear. With an infrared camera, I not only need to understand how the camera itself operates, but also how to best process images to get the creative results I desire. Continue reading My Descent into Infrared Photography, Part 3: One Camera, Multiple Looks→
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom relies on the Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) rendering engine to convert camera RAW images. The default color and contrast settings are something called “Adobe Standard” which look different than what you might see on your camera LCD when reviewing your images. However, Adobe offers alternate Camera Profiles which emulate the as-shot settings from many Nikon and Canon DSLRs. You’ll find these settings in the Camera Calibration panel in Lightroom and ACR.
In this example, I have placed an image of a Colorchecker card on the screen so you can see how the colors and contrast change between camera profiles. For this image, I get options based on the Nikon D800 that I used to capture the RAW file. Note that you can only make profile changes to RAW files. If you see “Embedded” under the profile option, it’s because you’re looking at a TIFF or JPEG image in Lightroom. Choose from any of the profile presets in the drop-down menu to change the baseline color and tone curve of your image, and you can fine-tune it with the sliders if you wish.
If you have a ColorChecker card, you can use the ColorChecker software from X-rite to create a custom profile for your camera. Each custom profile is specific to the camera you use to create the image. You can further tweak those profiles using Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor software (free download from www.adobe.com).
Once you have a profile that you like, you might wish to change your defaults to always use that profile going forward. If you do change your default settings, note that ANYTHING you modified in the Develop section gets applied, so keep your adjustments minimal (Calibration, sharpening, lens corrections) so that you don’t over-process your images. Defaults are only applied automatically when you import new images into Lightroom. Existing images will not be changed; you’ll have to adjust them manually or use the “Reset Settings” option in Lightroom to do so.
Today, Google announced the release of the re-branded Nik Collection of photo enhancement and editing plug-ins. The complete collection of plug-ins, is now delivered by a single installer. Individual plug-ins are no longer available, but you can get the complete set of pro plug-ins for $149. That’s a steal.
Even better… if you own ANY single current Nik Plug-in, they’re going to upgrade you to the Nik Collection for free!
At this point, the only major change is the installer and the product branding to “Nik Collection by Google.” The software also has been updated to support Windows 8.
All the plug-ins remain the same as they were before. The Nik Collection includes:
The Nik Collection can be purchased for $149 at www.niksoftware.com Use coupon code JODELL and save 15%, for a purchase price of $126. That’s a great value for something that until recently cost over $400.
The other good news is that it is clear that Google intends to support these products for the foreseeable future. I use the Nik plug-ins every day and they are simply the best quality out there.
You can also download a free 15-day trial version of the collection.