December 01, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 47 – Thanksgiving…EDIT (Post-Processing Workflow)
Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the 47th week of Shoot and Edit: Part 2. Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes (also including previous editing tutorials). This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one “Thanksgiving” SOOC shot (this was just a suggestion, you can show us any SOOC shot). Hopefully you linked up with Jill’s blog earlier this week.

Each Thursday, I will take my SOOC shot and provide a simple/basic or advanced Photoshop/Photoshop Elements or Lightroom tutorial. You can then try my tutorial on your own photos and link up here – linky will now open EARLY on Thursdays and be open THROUGH SUNDAY. If you’d prefer, can simply share your own edit and show us what you did to achieve the look.

We want this challenge to be a learning experience, so feel free to teach us something new too! Also, it does not matter what editing program you use. Although I tend to work within Adobe CS5 (Photoshop), Photoshop Elements, Adobe Camera Raw and now Lightroom…it does not mean that you have to use the exact same program. I hope you’ll be able to take the concepts and apply them in the program you feel most comfortable using.

Today I thought we’d talk about post-processing workflow. Granted, you’re probably pretty comfortable by now with your own workflow…so feel free to jump in share what works for you. We can all learn together. In the meantime, here’s my SOOC:
Thanksgiving SOOC-0884
Whether you are shooting one photo or a thousand photos, start by importing your images onto your computer. I use a Kingston 19-1 USB 2.0 Memory Card Reader since my computer cannot read Compact Flash (CF) cards. I also shoot in RAW and use Lightroom 3, so my photos are immediately imported into Lightroom (if you’re using a full version of Photoshop, you may be importing your photos into Adobe Bridge…and if you’re using Photoshop Elements, simply copy/move your files into a folder and open directly in PSE). Regardless of what you tool you’re working in, I encourage you to organize your photos into folders. Generally speaking, my photos are organized by month unless I’m processing an event or client portrait session. Taken a step further, I encourage you to BACK UP YOUR FILES (at least after processing if not before). My husband has set up a 2TB Hard Drive to automatically backup my files at least once a week.

Let’s assume you’re using Lightroom. Once your files are on your computer, you will want to sort and organize the photos. The first video below describes a basic organization process in Lightroom. The second video explains how to sort those images.

In terms of flagging or rating my images, I tend to spend a lot of time looking through my photos to select the very best ones…or at least the ones worth editing. In particular, for portrait sessions, I usually have many duplicates of the same shot. While this can come in handy if I need to merge photos, I don’t always need the extras. Some people prefer to use the star rating system. I tend to keep it simple with flags.

What I do next works for me (and these are my manual steps…most times I use presets to move the process along even quicker). It does not mean that it’ll work for you. In fact, your steps may be better.
  • Review your histogram: is your photo properly exposed, under-exposed or over-exposed? Pay attention because this will guide the rest of your steps. 
  • Adjust white balance (if a custom white balance was not created in-camera). I look for neutral colors in my images…white, black or gray.
  • Adjust exposure, recover, fill light, black, brightness, contrast, etc – all those things we’ve talked about in the past 46 weeks if necessary.
  • If you plan on using a preset, you may want to create a duplicate of your image. That way, you can sync back the basic elements (if you want) after the present has run. 
  • I typically process one photo in a set completely…start to finish. I will then select the rest of the images and sync all images to those steps. We talked about how to do this in Week 38 – Batch Processing.
  • If my photos will be complete in Lightroom, I will run a quick sharpen and reduce noise preset before exporting the files. 
  • However, I’m still heavily tied to Photoshop and for portrait work especially, I like to send my files over to Photoshop for some fine tuning. The following video shares a little more about moving between the two programs: 
A few things you’ll need to remember while you’re in post-production (beyond the above):
  1. If you’re editing a set, write down your steps for future reference. If you’re like me, you won’t edit the entire session in one sitting. By writing it down, you’re photos will be processed the same. 
  2. In the same breath, if you’re in creative editing mode and working with multiple layers (Photoshop), save a .psd file in addition to a .jpg file just in case you want to go back and adjust any of those layers. 
  3. For portrait work…talk with your “client” about how much retouching will be done. Set your own standard, but be sure to address how much will be done in the way of skin retouching, teeth whitening, eye sharpening, etc.
  4. Save, save, save.
So, that’ll take you through the basic editing process. For what its worth, I save one high resolution file of every image I edit (or rather a file that is roughly 1.2 MB). If the image is going to be posted to the web (blog or Facebook), I watermark, resize and sharpen. There are a number of sharpening methods…we talked about it some in Week 9.
Thanksgiving Edit-0884
With all that said, I’m sure I’m missing something. This is where you come in. In addition to sharing your edit for the week, please share at least one of your most helpful post-processing workflow tips in the comment section. We can later use this as a reference space.

For your edit, I would love to see you continuing using the lessons we’ve covered in the past 46 weeks as well as apply today’s lesson or share something you’ve learned recently. I hope you all have a great Thursday and I look forward to seeing your edits. Next week’s theme is “Holiday/Christmas.” Have a great Thursday!
Good to WOW

By the way, don’t forget to add your edited photo to our good to WOW {EDIT} Flickr Group (for those of you that prefer to upload and visit that way). When adding your photos to the group pool, be sure to include the Week #, the Theme and EDIT in the description section. You may upload one photo per week. I also want to point out that we are all here to improve our editing skills. When offering constructive criticism (either on Flickr or within blog comment sections), be sure to point out at least one thing you really like about the edit before offering any advice for improvement.

    Awesome. Still up waiting on Kenny to get home… Ugh. Anyways when I have sleep I will be sure to check out the videos.

    My workflow is so scattered…a minute here, a minute there…I’m not sure I have any good advice.

    I do have an external hard drive that is backed up via Mac Time Machine every hour. It is also important to back-up your Lightroom catalog in case of corruption…LR by default is set to do that every week? Say yes. According to Scott Kelby you might want to do it everyday.

    Great editing. I think I’m getting Photoshop Elements for Christmas. I will have to learn some editing tricks too.

    You always have such great tips. My only advice to give to anyone when editing is to “try” to do your editing at the same time of day. The light on the room changes and you will find that it effects your photos and how you process them. Oh, and callibrate your monitor. There is a free download if you font have expensive equipment.

    Beautiful Ashley- & thanks again for the reminder of batch processing. I ALWAYS forget that & then sit here & try to remember what I did from one image to the next.

    I always love reading about your edits and your process for editing. I really want to try elements! :)

    Ashley this is so helpful – hey what preset do you use to reduce noise? I didn’t even know that existed!

    Ashley… thank you. This is so helpful, I can’t even tell you. I am still a bit lost in Elements. It’ the 1st PS software I’ve used. I am surely going to read up on your past tips! You rock!

    I am so, so guilty of not having a back-up system in place; I’m asking Santa for one this Christmas. Any tips/pointers/suggestions that I can pass along to him?

    Love it! amazing as usual :D

    I laughed at your comment on my post because I thought the same when I read yours, which made me feel good–like I’m doing something right. HA! Thanks so much for sharing the videos and link to Adobe TV. Haven’t seen that site before. I need to go back to look at your tutorial on Batch Processing. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet! As always, GREAT information!

    Great tutorial! :)

    Insanely helpful Ashley… Going to be more meticulous about my steps :)

    It’s always so neat to see what other people do for their post-processing and compare what I do to make mine better! Thanks for sharing!

    Your flow sounds similar to mine. It took me a while to get it down but I think I have a pretty good handle on it now. Of course now I need to add in learning Lightroom to the mix. I keep putting it off but I know it will help me in the long run!

    So much great information in this post!

    Sooo helpful! I rate my photos by stars and then filter them…I have not been syncing my photos though, so I need to learn how to do that! Thanks for helping me get there!