Optimising the Digital Workflow

For the past 10 years I have been giving lectures on digital imaging for photographic clubs in the South East of England. (25 years ago I was giving companies talks and training on Photoshop, scanning and multimedia!).

I am available – for a small fee – to travel to clubs in the South East and given any one of the talks listed in the menu. Please contact me for further information. My details are in the Surrey Photographic Association handbook.

This is an outline of the contents of the talk and a summary of the findings with before and after images to help those that have been to one of my lectures. When I give the talks I include many different demonstrations, these slides and notes will, I hope help to serve as an aid to those who have seen the talk.

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

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Introduction

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  1. Setup

Slideshow “Setup” click arrows to advance the slides.

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2. Exposure

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3. Ingestion

 

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4. Viewing & Sorting

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5. Development

Development is a topic in itself and could take several hours to cover all the functions. I usually pick a couple of basic examples such as manipulating the histogram, basic exposure, contrast, clarity adding gradient filters etc.

One recently new feature of Lightroom is lens distortion correction. While Photoshop could do this for some time Lightroom now enable sit to be carried out in metadata as non destructive editing.

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6. Noise Reduction

 

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You may have noticed that film grain tends to be looked at as “creative” or “arty” or “atmospheric”, but digital noise does not attract such misty eyed praise. In this crop which seen at 100% the grain is evident but not offensive. Is this conditioning on our part – we are used to seeing grainy black and white images, or are the randomness of the patterns contributing to the effect?

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It’s easy to see why digital noise is unwanted. In this classic motor race in the rain, I was shooting at high ISO. As you can see there is a great deal of colour blotchiness and what appears to be sharpened texture.

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Applying Lightroom’s noise reduction improves this look significantly, however nothing comes for free, note that sharpness reduces too.

Lightroom has pretty powerful noise reduction tools, and I now rarely use external tools like Neat Image, Dfine or NoiseNinja. Keeping Noise reduction activity with Lightroom preserves the editing in metadata and can easily be modified later.

This one though was very tricky. 3200 ISO with an 80-200mm lens at f3.5, 1/400s. The circus was very dark, the lights were different colours, changing continuously, the subjects were far away and moving around quickly, so I used Neat Image. I was pleased with the results though!

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Noise Reduction Example 2. Original on the right.

7. Creative Effects

Lightroom provides a whole host of options for creative effects but they are beyond the scope of this talk, however I’m going to focus on the two main ways to get creative with Lightroom, beyond the main “pseudo darkroom” controls.

Presets and Plugins

Lightroom has the ability to apply pre-set filters to images with the click of a button. Examples would include

Black and white film effects, aged photo, vintage colour, sepia, toning etc.

More importantly they provide the facility for other manufacturers to supply preset filters – a good example would be the VSCO film packs that accurately simulate the effect of all the well known films.

The manufacturers of these film efects can use any of the Lightrrom settings including develop, grain, camera calibration etc to perfect their filters. Sometimes they are camera brand specific as a consequence.

The key point to remember is that the presets are completely reversible and are once again applied in metadata and thus “non destructive” edits.

Here is an example – the VSCO film packs for Canon, Sony and Fuji.

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You can also make your own plugins for creative or other effect. I created a set of noise reduction presets for my Canon 5dmklll. As you can see for each ISO I created a unique setting that I found worked, and saved it for future use. Now I can use metadata tab to choose all of my 800ISO images and apply this present to them, followed by the rest.

 

Plugins

Plugins are a different story. In this case a manufacturer writes a new software application and simply joins to Lightroom for the file to be passed between the applications in a simple way. Unfortunately once the file passes outside of Lightroom (as say a TIFF or PSD file, the non destructive editing aspect is now baked into the “snapshot” that is taken out to the new program.

Example: Silver Effect Pro – and advanced black and white conversion and creative tool.

Plugins tend to follow a common layout: Examples to pick on the left, image in the middle and detailed controls on the right.

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Once saved (bottom right) the image is returned AS A COPY of the original with the changes baked in.

8. Scaling

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9. Sharpening

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10. Printing

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11. Export

Export will typically be used for the following scenarios

  1. To email an image  (You need to limit size to a limit determined by your email provider – jpeg – sharpen for screen)
  2. To put on social media (1600 pixel on long edge jpg – with a watermark – sharpen for screen)
  3. For projected image competition at your club (Pixel dimensions of projector jpg – sharpen for screen)
  4. To put on a website (Size depends on how large the space to a width and height jpg – sharpen for screen – watermark)
  5. To export to a another program – or to another place to print (Full resolution TIFF -no resizing – but may want sharpen for print)

All can be quickly and easily achieved in Lightroom using the Export dialogue.  Below is an example of how to setup Lightroom for export for a projected image competition, where the projector is a “Full HD” which means a 1920 x 1080 pixel dimension. Remember that a Projector is ALWAYS HORIZONTAL. So the maximum height a picture can be in this instance is 1080 pixels, even if it is a portrait orientation image.

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