Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Photography Workflow...Part 2

Yesterday we took a look at my photography work flow for people shots. I gave you a list of all the software I use. You can reference that list for my upcoming posts.

Today I will talk about my work flow for regular, non-HDR, landscape shots.

No matter what kind of photography I'm doing, I always import my photos into Adobe Lightroom as a starting place. Once in Lightroom, I flag all the photos to filter out the ones I want to work on. This is done in the Library mode. Once this is done I switch to the Develop mode.

In the Develop mode, I use the normal workflow on the toolbar located on the right side of the screen. I work from the top to the bottom, starting with White Balance, then working my way through contrast, blacks, and vibrance. This is all sounding familiar. Yes, it's basically the same process as when I work with people shots.

I should have said this from the beginning, but I always shoot in RAW mode on my camera instead of jpeg. There is way more data to work with in a RAW photo. For more on this, refer to my previous blog posts.

In Adobe Lightroom, I might adjust some individual colors or do some minor spot editing, but usually not too much. Once I get the photo pretty close to the way I like it, I "export" the RAW image and convert it to a jpeg image on my hard drive. Some people like to export TIFF images, but I generally don't find the need for it.

Once I have my jpeg image, I open it in Photoshop Elements (PE). The first thing I do is straighten the horizon. Sometimes I straighten in Lightroom, sometimes in PE. It really doesn't matter. I also might crop my photo a little to get as much composition on the thirds as possible. It's best to do this "in camera", but sometimes I adjust it a little more.

Once straightened and cropped, I usually edit in the "quick mode" of PE. I adjust the shadows a bit. Then adjust the brightness and contrast. Sometimes I spot edit brightness and contrast with the magic select tool in PE. This is a GREAT tool!

I then look for saturation. I like lots of color in my landscapes, so I might adjust the saturation. From there I sharpen my photos. You have to be careful with this slider, but I really like the way the sharpening slider works in PE. I usually zoom in close to make sure I'm not over sharpening the image.

Once I get the image sharp, I then turn to my best tool in the Neat Image noise reduction plug in. The plug in version installs itself into the filter directory of PE. I select the Neat Image from the filter menu. I select "auto profile" and Neat Image will usually grab a portion of the sky (which is what I want). Then I switch to the Noise Filter Settings tab. I usually use 70% as my settings for Luminance, Chrominance, and Sharpening amount. Sometimes I run this filter twice as I like to get rid of all the noise I can in the sky.

That's it. Click save and I'm done.

If you'd like to check out some of my non-HDR landscapes, you can do it here on my Tropical Photos by Larson website.

Check back for my next post on my HDR photography work flow.

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