Getting to know the Digital File

Here I will show a little insight on a few of the things that I know when dealing with digital files from a DSLR.
This will be aimed more at the beginners that are wanting to find their feet in the likes of composition to the final touches of their masterpiece!
Hopefully the little knowledge that I have will help a few to move on to the next level in their photography.

My standard workflow will be RAW files edited in Capture One 4, then if further editing is required it will be in Photoshop CS3. You don't need the same software to do the same job, software like Lightroom, Elements or Gimp etc will do almost the same or better.
As with any editing in Photoshop they're many ways to do the same thing, this doesn't make it the right or wrong way, just the way I do it.

More will be added through time and please feel free to ask any question here.

Editing from the RAW file to a TIFF file.

As I always shoot with my Canon 40D set to RAW for the best possible results, I will give you a typical rundown on how I edit an image.
This won't always be the case but it will give you idea on ways to bring the most out of your RAW file.

The first one is straight out of the camera with no editing at all.

The second is how it looks after doing adjustments in Capture One 4 to the RAW file.
Exposure: Corrected by 0.34
Saturation: 28
Highlights: 50
Levels: Black Slider moves to 5
Curves: Auto setting for Mid-Tones Darker

Finally in Photoshop CS3
A curves layer applied to both the sky and FG separately, usually making a slight 'S' shape (fig 1) will give it the contrast it needs. This is done by using the Lasso Tool to select the area that you want and then click on Select - Modify - Feather, set this to around 150-200px. This will give a gradual blend to the edge of the layer.
Colour Balance on the shadows, mid tones and highlights.
Used the Dodge Tool on the rocks in the mid ground at 3%
Also the Burn Tool on the mountains in the back ground a little, again at 3%
Cloned over the blown highlights in the sky at about 5%

Once I'm happy with the final result the image will be saved as a 16Bit TIFF with NO sharpening at all. Sharpening should only be applied once you know what the final output of that image will be i.e. poster size, used for web etc as each one needs different amounts of sharpening.
I don't flatten my layers before I save as I might want to go back and change things slightly later on, you would need to start all over again if you do.

fig 1

Resizing for the web.

The internet is great way to share our images with friends and family. So when your happy with yours, you'll likely want to get it out there.
Here I'll show how I go about resizing my images for use on the internet.

First of all I will change the image from 16Bit to 8Bit, Image - Mode - 8Bits/Channel.

As with all images on the web they are best viewed with the Colour Space of sRGB and NOT Adobe RGB that your camera will more than likely be set at.
Click, Edit - Convert To Profile. In the Destination Space select sRGB IEC61966-2.1 (fig 1)

fig 1

Next you will need to resize the image, this will be done from Image - Image Size. This will bring up the Image Size box (fig 2).
Have the dimensions set to Pixels and I usually have the longest edge set to 600px with the Resolution set to 72 pixels/inch. This will be set around 300 pixels/inch when printing but as it's just for the web this is fine and it helps stop your work from getting printed.

fig 2

Finally the image would be sharpened, which I'll go into a bit more later. Save the image by clicking, File - Save As (as you want to keep the original TIFF file untouched) give it a File Name and Format as a JPEG. The options will appear, here you can select the quality that you want to save it as. I always use 12 but from 10-12 will be fine, job done!

Sharpening your web JPEG.

Once we have our image resized for the web that I approached above, we are now ready to sharpen it.

With your image open press Ctrl+J, this will give you a new layer (copy of your image fig 1) to work on.

fig 1

Now go to Filter-Sharpen-Unsharp Mask and use the settings: Amount 180%, Radius 0.2pixels, Threshold 0 levels (fig 2).

fig 2

I will give these setting three of four runs on the image depending on how I want it to look. After the first time you press OK you can now use the Ctrl+F short cut to repeat the filter without going back into the Filter menu. You can experiment with the Amount setting mostly to suit your own needs and run the filter as many times as you wish but I wouldn't go above four unless you have reduced the Amount greatly.
The good thing about having done the sharpening on a separate layer is that you can use a Layer Mask to paint back any area of the image if it looks over sharpened like the horizon, which might get a halo along it or an area where you want it to look a bit soft.
With your Layer 1 still selected click the Add Layer Mask at the bottom of the Layers window (marked with the red in fig 2)Now select your Brush Tool set to black and set the opacity to about 10% and the brush diameter to suit the area you want to paint back. Run the brush over the area of the image you want to reduce the sharpening to, you can increase the opacity or make multiple runs over the area until your happy with the result. If you take it to far back to the original you can change the colour of the brush to white and this will bring back the sharpening that you had done once you go over the area again with the Brush Tool.
Finally right click on one of the layers and flatten them, now your ready to upload it to the web!

Correcting Verticals Within An Image.

Here's a short video on how to correct verticals with the Skew Tool within individual areas of an image.

Is this info helpful? What would you like to see here? Please let me know.

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