I have shared a couple of Santorini photos on social media, as well as on my photography blog. I will share more images next week, when hopefully I will have completed my editing work. Hopefully but I suspect other things will interfere - again.
I say went well - is going well is a more accurate summation of my progress - going well but not quick enough for my liking.
What results am I getting?
To date I have produced 33 images, and of the 116 images selected (it was originally 131 images but some have fallen by the wayside as expected).
I knew this would happen.
Groups of images
I have been working on groups of images taken at the same time. I want images taken at the same time to look like they were taken at the same time, which is giving me nice small cohesive sets of images.
The images are taking a lot longer to produce, but I am fine with this as long as I assign time every morning to this, and stick with it. It has been nice knowing that I have some more images to work on, and I have enjoyed the process a lot, which I knew I would.
Apart from other stuff getting in the way that is. Which is a recurring problem.
How many images will I end up with?
It is looking like I will end up with circa 100 images, slightly more than I expected originally. Currently I have 116 pictures of Santorini in the Picks folder in Lightroom, but expect this to reduce as I go though the editing process.
How am I editing my images?
This is what I wanted to write about. This is the point of this post.
This is the approach that I have taken for my processing to date, and is the same approach I will take with the rest of the images that I have yet to process. Any variations from this I will write about in a further post.
My processing has followed the commercial workflow in the following sequence - for each and every image this is the order I go through
- White balance
- Basic panel
- HSL Panel
- Effects panel
- Local adjustments
- Cleaning in Photoshop
I will expand on each in turn.
Lets not forget what I have done to date
I must not forget that I wrote about the HDR Merge process in Lightroom in the previous post, so this is from the starting point of working on a new .dng file, created as described before.
One of the things I have applied here is Auto tone, which appears to be different from previous versions of Lightroom, where contrast and vibrance were not altered, as far as I can remember.
I have to check these on each image, which is a bit of a pain, but something I have worked into my processing workflow.
This is the step by step process of how I process my Santorini images in Lightroom.
I always start with white balance. I want the colours to be correct to start with. And changes to the white balance can affect the exposure in subtle ways. I adjust the white balance of every image without fail, using the variety of tools available in Lightroom.
I use either the white balance pre-sets, which for these images are typically Daylight, Cloudy and Shade, or the custom white balance. Custom white balance sounds difficult but is dead easy to do – all you do is select the eyedropper tool and click on a part of the image, which has either a neutral grey or white. It really is that simple.
And if the white balance is exactly the same to a number of images I can simply copy and paste from one image to the others.
White Balance done, my colours are correct, time to refine the content of the image.
I retain the 3*2 format of the image, or 2*3 if it is landscape. I rarely vary from the standard image ratios my Canon 6D produces. II however will crop from landscape to portrait and vice verse if it makes sense to an image.
Cropping is an essential part of image processing for me, and is a chance for me to quickly consider the composition, and see if I want to get rid of some of an image. I want to do this before spending time on processing, as I might be spending time on something that I later remove, which is wasting my time!
The crop tool is dead simple in Lightroom, just select the tool and drag the edges however you want them.
Cropping is immediately followed by the Transform Panel.
In this panel I get the images looking correct. Less of an issue on landscape and travel photography images than architectural images, but still important. If I have not got the horizon bang on in the cropping process then it is sorted here, along with verticals and any distortion.
After these three steps I go to the Basics Panel, where I adjust
This is an overall adjustment of the exposure. I don’t tend to use this that much, as I obviously nail the exposure eon every shot! Oh yes, and the fact that I have let Lightroom auto-tone the image as part of the HDR Merge process.
I never reduce the contrast. I normally increase it by +25 to +50, depending on how the image looks. These are all visual adjustments by the way, the numbers are consequences of the visual effect, and not the other way round.
Of course I am using a calibrated monitor – this is important when doing visual editing of photographs.
Just slide these to the left as much as you want
And these as far to the right as looks good
For technical correctness hold down shift and double click to set the black point
For technical correctness hold down shift and double click to set the white point
All done and technically correct? Now play around with both until you like what you see. I normally go right with whites and left with blacks – the numbers vary.
Look at the clarity slider as the detail boosting slider – this rarely stays below 25 and rarely goes above 75. And for fun slide to the left and see what it does.
Vibrance is a great adjustment, as it enhances the muted colours only, and is a really subtle adjustment.
Saturation is a blunt instrument that I only use to reduce the saturation, never to increase it.
Do not slide to the right – just to the left. Well try it and you will see what I mean.
After the Basic Panel I jump into the HSL Panel.
HSL stands for Hue, Saturation and Luminance
I rarely use Hue, but adjust saturation and luminance on most images. I check the Target Adjustment Tool and click on the colours I want to change, dragging the slider up to increase the luminance or saturation, and down to decrease either. This gives me a nice subtle adjustment of the colours – usually I adjust the saturation and luminance of the colour of the sky, and anything illuminated by the sun.
I use this to remove haze from images which have it, and to add haze to something when I want a misty moody feel. I tend not to do that much, but have used it in conjunction with the brush tool to apply some local haze within an image. I have not used Dehaze on any of my photos of Santorini.
I apply a subtle vignette of -10, which darkens the corners very very slightly – if I hadn’t told you you wouldn’t have known, it is that subtle. I apply this to all images as part of the import develop pre-set.
Nearly done in Lightroom, I just have local adjustments to go. These mainly include dodging and burning, as well as discreet use of the radial filter tool. These adjustments are local to parts of the images, isolating details and providing subtle changes of colours, tones and shades. I use other tools from time to time, as and when they will enhance an image.
What do I do in Photoshop?
I do my processing in Lightroom, then finish off in Photoshop. All I do in Photoshop is clean up the edited image, using the folowing tools.
- Spot healing brush
- Patch tool
- Clone stamp tool
- Lasso tool and content aware fill
Photoshop is just for removing things that should not be there, for getting rid of things that I do not want in am image, as well as removing sensor dust spots.
That is my developing pretty much described.
But there is the metadata to sort
Once I have finished processing the images, there is another job to do. I do this once I have finished processing images. I have to sort the metadata, namely
This is an important part of the job, as this little piece of work will help with the SEO of my images wherever they go. After all, I want everything to work to help increase the traffic to my website.
This metadata is important to Google, as Google cannot see images, so this metadata is needed to describe what an image actually is to Google.
I do this after I have edited images, as I am not going to do anything with images that I have not edited, so there is no point.
That is the approach to how I edit my images. As I have said, this has taken a lot longer than I had hoped, but I am delighted with the images produced to date. I am going to get my head down now and try to crack on through the rest of my Santorini photos – blog posts will be brief to all the maximum time for editing, whilst still maintain my daily content production.
One last thing
One last point on my image processing workflow – when I am editing a set of architectural images I normally follow the process above but work on one element to all images before going onto the next.
I sort the white balance on all the images before moving on to the crop and transform panel. This ensures that I produce consistency across a set of images, which is often 20 – 30 images, which are processed all at the same time.
For the set of Santorini photos however, which are being processed over the course of a few weeks, this will not work.
The sequence I take for image processing of every image is as follows
- White balance
- Basic panel
- Local adjustments
- Photoshop cleaning and tidying
And then I finish off with the metadata as above.
So what’s next?
Finish off editing my images – this is the next job.