Basic Edits

In this section we will cover the basic tools you will use to process your image.

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Workflow

Workflow describes the overall processes you use between retrieving the image from your camera to your finished image. It includes:

  • camera setup and image capture (in particular whether you capture in RAW or JPEG or both
  • file management including storage strategies and the importance of backup
  • indexing and cataloging (so you can easily find your beautiful images again in your ever-growing image collection)
  • basic editing
  • advanced editing
  • display including printing and mounting, web galleries etc. (though I probably will not be going into these areas in this post-processing training site)
  • Backing up your images (OK I know I mentioned this earlier… it is important and usually neglected. You’ll only value it after your disk drive dies. Look at this post)

How you set up your workflow is a very personal thing, but if you do it right your work will be more efficient and it will save you hours and hours of time and frustration. The links below will discuss some of these aspects in greater detail.

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Exposure X6

Overview

Image from https://www.lifeafterphotoshop.com/exposure-x6-review/

I haven’t used Exposure hands-on so the following comments are based on the Exposure website documentation (there is an extensive set of tutorials and videos) and reviews I found on the web. Exposure X6 is very similar to Lightroom in its user interface. It provides file management/Digital Asset Management tools including metadata editing, virtual copies and virtual collections. It has a comprehensive RAW editing workflow with non-destructive editing pathways (similar to LR). Unlike LR it supports layered images with blend modes, masks, opacity etc. so you can make composite images, or apply filters to layer copies for more flexible editing. The user interface is customisable so you can move or hide different editing panels to suit your personal workflow. You can also use Exposure X6 as a plugin to Lightroom and Photoshop.

Note that Exposure X7 is “Coming soon” at the time I write this (august 2021), which they tout to contain new masking tools, new workspaces and improved image quality.

Reviews and Resources

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Capture One

Overview

Capture One started life as software to support Phase One’s high-end digital cameras, in particular in tethered image capture situations, but is now available for most makes. It is a superb professional Raw image processor. It is feature rich, with a layered image processing model. It has image management/cataloging functions, though not as good as Lightroom’s. One comparison of Catpure One and Lightroom is HERE and reviews are HERE and HERE. Capture One is available on a monthly subscription model and is more expensive than LR/PS, but there are cheaper or even free options if you use Sony or Fujifilm cameras.Fujifilm cameras.

Screen grab from one of Capture One’s tutorial videos

Further Reviews and Resources

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Some useful training videos

Below are some miscellaneous training videos that look to me to be worth viewing.

Beginner level

More advanced level

videos to be added as I come across candidates.

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RawTherapee

RawTherapee is a richly featured RAW file editor with versions for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is free, open-source software.

RawTherapee is a powerful, cross-platform raw photo processing system, released as Free Software (GPLv3). It is designed for developing raw files from a broad range of digital cameras and targeted at users ranging from enthusiast newcomers who wish to broaden their understanding of how digital imaging works to professional photographers.

RawTherapee provides a powerful suite of tools for you to produce amazing photos and showcase your creativity.

RawTherapee benefits users who take the time to learn what it can do. Luckily the community is quite welcoming and helpful! Check out the Forum, read up on RawPedia, and ask questions – there’s always something neat to learn! 🙂

RawTherapee is Free and Open Source software. This means you can use it free of charge, wherever you like and however you like as long as you abide by the copyleft GPLv3 license.

https://rawtherapee.com/

It boasts high image quality, and support for a huge range of RAW formats, and documentation and an active support forum.

First slide
RawTherapee screen shot from https://rawtherapee.com/
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Photopea – a free photoshop-like editor

An amazing project from a talented Czech Programer Ivan Kutskir. It comprises over 100,000 lines of code! This is an online program that you can run in your browser, with a photoshop-like interface with all the things you would expect. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. It works with some RAW formats though the raw processing is fairly basic – you get basic exposure adjustments then it converts to a PSD file that you can edit. However if you want, you could always use one of the more capable RAW converters (RawTherapee, DarkTable, or even Adobe Camera Raw (yes you can download that for free)). It features layers, blending modes, lots of filters, selection tools…. All for free (well almost. You “pay” by having a set of adverts flashing on the right hand side of the page – there is a paid option that removes the adverts).

If you use Chrome browser (or similar) you can “install” Photopea as an App so you can run it entirely from your computer without an internet connection. (I guess if you then turn off your internet, you can edit your photos without adverts popping up).

Here is one person’s review https://fixthephoto.com/photopea-review.html and another https://irvkrick.com/photopea-review-a-free-photoshop-alternative-that-works-in-your-browser/

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ON1 Photo Raw

Overview

ON1 Photo RAW is a relative newcomer to the photo editing arena (currently designated ON1 Photo RAW 2021.5), but looks to be feature filled. It includes Digital asset management and a non-destructive, layered editing paradigm, incorporating many features of photoshop as well as Lightroom. It comes with either a one-off license or a subscription model that allows you continued updates as the software develops. They offer a 14 day free trial.

ON1 file catalog screen

According to their website, ON1 can import Lightroom settings from existing LR catalogs (at least this is scheduled for the October 2021 release). It has photo-retouching tools, cloning, healing, removing blemishes, noise reduction, content aware fill etc. It handles HDR, focus stacking and panoramas. It uses some AI approaches to aspects of its image processing. It can also operate as a plugin for Adobe, Affinity and Corel applications.

On1 edit screen

On1 has a few specialised features. Notable is an AI powered portrait editing mode that looks to be quite powerful. It automatically identifies features like lips, eyes, eyebrows etc and provides controls to adjust their appearance. You can also modify the shapes and sizes of the face or face parts. If you do lots of portraiture it is definitely worth a look.

On1’s portrait mode. Image is one from their main website

Some Reviews of ON1

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Darktable

darktable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. A virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them.

https://www.darktable.org/

Darktable is a powerful program with a wealth of features. Rather than re-inventing the wheel with a detailed analysis, I’ll give a quick overview of some of the main features and leave you to check out the reviews and comments section below.

Darktable has powerful features for image organisation and digital asset management. You can star-rate images, add keyword tags, edit metadata and so on. It is a powerful RAW image processor with a non-destructive workflow. Edits are saved and you can save the edit lists as xmp files with the original image if you wish. It supports a powerful array of processing filters, and can apply effects locally with a variety of mask creation tools. It has a mapping module that allows you to make use of the geolocation data in files. You can even control your tethered camera using Darktable. The couple of screenshots below give you a feel for the workspace. To my mind it looks quite similar to Lightroom’s.

Darktable’s Lighttable workspace where you can organise images, sort, select, rate, tag, edit metadata and so on.
Darktable’s Darkroom workspace where you can edit photos

Reviews and comments

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DigiKam

DigiKam is a free, open-source package for Linux, windows and macOS. It has strong digital asset management and a comprehensive processing workflow. It has powerful RAW file editing and a non-destructive workflow (edits are saved in a database). It supports a huge range of file formats. There is extensive documentation at the DigiKam website. Below are some screen shots to give you a feel for the program.

Some links to reviews are at the bottom (not all are for the latest version). My impression is that this free program provides a lot of power. It isn’t a slick or as fast as Lightroom, but it offers a huge array of features, notably in digital asset management (cataloging, metadata editing, organising, searching etc) that is lacking in most image processing software. And it is free, so costs nothing to try it out.

DigiKam’s main screen. Tabs at the left allow you to view the folder structure, ratings, keywords/tags, a timeline, advanced search functions, image similarity (great for winnowing duplicates or near duplicates), maps/geolocation, and people indexing (it can search images for faces and if you give names to faces, it will try to find similar faces in other photos, allowing you to search for specific people, once you have identified that person in photos).

The image editor window gives access to a wide range of editing tools. The tabs at the right give access to image properties, metadata, a map, captions and tools (see below).

The tools tab gives access to a lot of functionality including links to the image editor, tag manager, batch manager, a light table (good for sorting images, comparing images side by side, rating, tagging etc). Post processing tools include image stacking (HDR, focus stack), generation of calendars, web galleries etc. Export tools allow you to export to local storage or a range of online systems. You can also import images from your SmugMug or Google galleries, or from a scanner.

Some Reviews

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The making of an intentionally blurred image (VIcki Moritz)

So you spent years learning how to shoot images in focus? Just for a change here is how to make an intentional blurred image such as the one below

Source images- demonstrating you can make something out of not much!

An outline of the steps taken:

  1. First select an image (or images) that you think will work. A wide angle image with a point of
    interest you can reintroduce in a masking step is a good start
  2. Perform basic black/white point adjustments and ensure the buildings are straight (lens
    correction)
  3. This technique uses photoshop- the first step selected the man from a wet day in Melbourne
    and pasted and positioned him in the walkway image taken at a club outing to South Wharf.
    Remember to include reflections or shadows if you have them in the original image. In the
    case of the man it was a reflection
  4. Duplicate the layer that now contains the man and background and convert it to a smart
    object (right click on the layer- convert to smart object). This ensures you can still see the
    settings you use and can make alterations
  5. To create the blur I used filter/blur/motion blur. The setting was 1267 pixels at 90O
  6. I then added a mask to the layer and masked out the effect in the foreground as I wanted
    the image to be grounded
  7. I then duplicated the layer in step 4 again (before blur), added it to the top of the layer stack
    and added a black mask to bring back the blurred layer. I then painted in white on the mask
    to bring back areas that I didn’t want to see blurred eg the man and the railing leading into
    the image
  8. Final step was to convert to B&W using Nik software and darken areas on the edges

Enjoy having a go at this
Vicki!

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Face in the clouds How-To (Stephen Hilton)

This How-To covers Stephen Hilton’s approach to create his image Face in the clouds.

Start with a sky as your background layer (below). If the clouds are little dull, brighten them up with a curves or levels adjustment. Tip: I found it best to have a patch of sky with minimal cloud for overlaying the face as it made the face stand out better.

Paste a face into a new layer. Tip: you can lower the opacity of the face layer to help you position the face in the desired position.

Apply an “Invert” adjustment to the face layer, followed by a “Black and White” adjustment.

Set blend mode to “Screen” and lower the opacity to taste (in my case, about 40% opacity).

Apply a Gaussian blur adjustment (in my case, about 7 pixels).

  • Add a mask to the face layer.
  • Select brush tool.
  • Set to black brush, low flow, low hardness (I used 5% flow and 0% hardness)
  • Gradually paint out unwanted areas by painting onto the mask with the black brush. Tip: if you make a mistake, change brush colour to white and paint onto the mask.
  • Select brush tool.
  • Set to black brush, low flow, low hardness (I used 5% flow and 0% hardness)
  • Gradually paint out unwanted areas by painting onto the mask with the black brush. Tip: if you make a mistake, change brush colour to white and paint onto the mask.

You may need to tweak the white balance of the cloud layer to match the face.  Mine was pretty close and the adjustment was barely noticeable.

You can use a soft, white brush on the background layer to fill in the cloud if there are any gaps. I did some very subtle adjustments here.

Add the balloon on a separate layer to get the final image

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