Evolution Of An Image

Last weekend Marianne and I had a wonderful but tiring time shooting another wedding. It was our third of four official wedding shoots for the year and with each wedding, we learn something new. Along the way, we have learned that post processing can be minimized by a few very important factors:

1. Getting the lighting correct in the original shot

2. Synchronising our cameras to the exact second so that images from our CF cards can be arranged in order of time shot when imported into lightroom

3. Creating a set of template presets for each given lighting situation so that 1 button in lightroom does a good 80% of the work to adjust white balance, fill light, contrast, vibrance and saturation.

4. Exporting the files with a custom template according to time and label to allow us to combine our separate work folders without having to rename files

5. Creating actions in photoshop to standardise workflow for each image we process.

I’d like to take you through the journey of an image through to its end. In the past, we probably would have taken far longer to process the one  image, however , when 900 images are being sorted and processed, some sort of streamlining had to occur or we would be staring at the screen until our eyes bled.

This image was taken at the back of St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide. The lighting was variable such that at times the sun would be out, at others, cloud cover provided more even light. Image was taken with the 5dmkII, 16-35mm F2.8 II lens and 580EXII flash on manual mode. This is the original RAW file exported from lightroom with no alterations.

Original RAW image : no alteration

The same image after lightroom preset adjustments: Highlight recovery for the sky, addition of some fill light, contrast and slight vibrance and increase in clarity.

Lightroom Edited Image

Next , in photoshop, there are some actions I have created which within 2 clicks do the following:

– Adjustment layer for brightness and contrast: defaults are brightness +10, contrast +5

– Adjustment layer for vibrance and saturation : defaults are vibrance +15, saturatoin  +5

– New layer with an imagenomic plugin called Portraiture which smooths skin tones. Unsharp mask applied to this layer

– Adjustment layer for hue /saturation to reduce “red2” saturation for unnatural looking orange skin.

This is usually where I end the editing for most proofs after playing with the sliders in the above layers. I flatten the image and save it into a folder ready for batch bordering and watermarking.

Initial photoshop batch edit

Finally, sometimes, I feel like images could do with a little more grunge. For this image, I was quite happy with Sam & Matt however the background and tiles looked a bit drab to me. These were the adjustments made.

– Duplicate layer : soft light mode : Bride and groom layer masked out using the ellipse selection tool and refining the layer mask.

– Duplicate layer : multiply mode at 50% to darken the background. Bride and groom layer masked out using the ellipse selection tool and refining the layer mask.

– All layers merged to another layer, noise added (5%) and bride and groom layer masked out again.

Final edit

I’m not sure if the last image is everyone’s cup of tea but I think it looks a little more dramatic than the original!

Our best hope at the end of this process for the several hundred photos, is that the bride and groom are happy 🙂



Posted on May 20, 2010, in How we..., Photography, Weddings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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