Which Packages for Post Production

Where possible I have tried to standardise on as few post production software packages as I can.

The majority of my work is all done in Adobe Lightroom but sometimes you need either the added power of a third party plug-in or application or its just easier to do in some packages.

I feel its better to be a master of one package and try to do as much as I can in it.

Postproduction - Flat JpegIn the above photograph you have a basic flatly rendered JPeg, I have just added a crop to tighten up the image. I then ran it through my usual Adobe Lightroom work flow and I was pleased with the result but I still felt it lacked a little zing.

Postproduction in Lightroom
Postproduction in Lightroom

So I exported it as a tif into Photoshop CC to see what I could do with it in there. Now starting with a colour image there are at least four different ways to process an image to make it Black & White, including some very advanced techniques using LAB mode and also creating separate layers each Black & White based on the luminance values of each of the Red, Green and Blue Channels. All of which give very advanced control. Here through I just wanted the image to have a bit more pop and zing!

Dodge and Burn, Overlay method
Dodge and Burn, Overlay method

First of all I thought I would do a little more dodging and burning to improve the local contrast of a few areas. Now the dodge and burn tool in Photoshop is not the best and can cause issues and colour shift. Not too important with a Black & White image but still there are better ways of accomplishing this.

Now this technique is one that I learn’t from a printing tutorial by Jeff Schewe. Create a new layer and fill it with 50% Gray.

Photoshop CC 50 Gray

Now set the Layer mode to Overlay. Now to lighten parts of the image just paint on this lay with white (Dodge) and to darken parts of the image, just paint on this layer with black (Burn). Using a soft edged brush you can quickly and easily fine tune the image.

The next part is the contrast. I want the darker parts of the image to have a real boost in the contrast. I do this with a curves adjustment. While this has been possible in Lightroom since V4 it is more controllable in Photoshop.

Levels
Levels

For the dark portion of the image I have added two control points to steepen the curve and thus the contrast. I have added a third control point to bring down the mid-tones and return the highlights back to normal. For this image I felt the contrast in the mid-tones was still a little to high so I added a second Curves layer to bring it back under control.

I finished the image with a little sharpening.

Photoshop Dodge and BurnSo here is the finished image and this months “Picture of the Month”. I did try and reproduce this just in Lightroom but I could not get the same degree of control and the image lacked contrast.

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