synonymous with photoshopping. How much is too
I'll be focusing on Adobe Photoshop CS4 and some unique features to it.
Even if you don't use it some of but not all the technique can be
applied via another program.
Some argue that photography captures reality and as such
shouldn't be tampered with, calling this "journalistic integrity". Thom
Hogan says it better than I can:
"I have an easy answer to the
question of manipulation. Photography isn’t real. Ever.
It’s instead what a photographer chooses to show you, simple
that. It’s only one moment in time, taken from a particular
perspective (position), showing only a part of what can be shown (crop
via the angle of view of the lens chosen), captured at some resolution,
with development settings often determined by someone else (processing
lab or camera manufacturer). Colors aren’t accurate,
they’re biased in some way. Dynamic range isn’t
it’s either chopped off or compressed into the output medium.
My personal goal is to do my best to capture the feeling
of a rapid or place, and occasionally the feeling of running one. Of
course looking at a photograph isn't the same thing as being there,
feeling mist on your face, hearing the roar of the water and being
fully immersed in the experience. In light of this I have no problem
pushing an image in photoshop to best capture how I felt about the
environment at that moment. My personal taste is to keep photographs
looking real while capturing the moment as well as possible. The end
result is only as good as the original shot, heavily processing a
mundane photograph gives you a heavily processed mundane photograph.
Raw or jpg? This is a personal choice with
advantages to both. Jpg's are much smaller sized files because just the
information that makes it onto the histogram is saved, everything else
is clipped off. They are much easier on computer resources to edit and
store. Raw files save extra information and up the file size
considerably. If you have a high end dSLR and shoot raw, you'll need a
computer to match for post processing. I choose to shoot raw because
whitewater exposure can be tough to nail and it gives you a little
breathing room. I've also shot jpg only for over a year and
This section really applies to a basic edit of an image
for web use. When it comes times for prints most (larger) companies
just want raw files because they have people with a degree for getting
shots perfect for their printing methods. There are some exceptions and
this is more or less how I edit the final jpgs too, without the final
resize, watermark and sharpening.
First off you'll need to change an option in photoshop. I
learned that you can open .jpg files with the more powerful raw editor.
Go to: Edit > Preferences > File Handling.
Preferences” > JPEG and Tiff Handling >
all supported JPEGs. Now both raw and jpg will open in the raw editor.
I'll do a quick walk through of a photograph that needs minimal work.
Fantasy Falls of the North Fork Mokelumne.
Go to the upper right corner and turn on "Highlight
Clipping Warning". You'll see the washed out area on Chris's helmet
turn red. The highlight clipping warning makes any area of pure white
look red. It's hard for the human eye to differentiate when white
washes out, but easy for the computer, so when there is no information
and it's true white (255,255,255) it shows it as red. I leave this on
for editing all whitewater shots.
#1 Vibrance: I like a lot of color in my shots, and to test
things out will put my "vibrance" at 50. Vibrance is a new saturation
tool that does a great job of leaving skin tones natural while helping
out other colors. Adjust to taste (mine is rarely above 50).
#2 Exposure: Every shot gets just a small touch up or down as
needed. I pushed this shot up .45 because Chris's face and the sky are
pretty dark. This makes a few small spots of whitewater clip (wash out)
and turn red. That's ok because of the next step.
#3 Recovery: The recovery slider pulls back just the bright spots that
have clipped. It's amazing and I love it. In this shot I set it at 25
to remove any red spots from the water. A small one still remains on
the helmet but this is normal and would look unnatural to get rid of.
#4 Fill Light: This adjusts the tonal curve in the shadows. Huh?
Sliding it to the right makes dark sections of the photo brighter
without affecting the highlights. For this shot I set it at 35, the sky
now looks nice and I can see Chris's face.
Now the photo is where I like it, bright colors give it
plenty of "pop" and nice lighting on the subjects face. Now I hold down
the Alt button and open a copy of the file. If you ignore Alt the image
will open and create a file of your raw preferences for the original. I
don't want this extra file created since this is destined to be a jpg
for the web. Now the file is open in regular photoshop and we're almost
done. Resize the photo for it's final size in web use. I like to go 800
pixels on the long side of the image. Pull up the image size option by
hitting Alt-Ctrl-I, or via the menu: Image > Image Size.
Since this image is horizontal the width is the long side, so
put in 800 and make sure it says pixels and hit OK. (Note I've already
selected the Type tool halfway down on the left)
Sharpening an image should always be the final step,
because any adjustments made after sharpening can soften the image.
Resizing an image always softens it considerably. I like a little
sharpening, but not too much, or you'll get an image that looks like it
came from an archaic digital camera. There is no shortcut for the Smart
Sharpen feature, so through the menu system go Filters > Sharpen
> Smart Sharpen. Your first time some adjustments will need to
made. Be sure the "Preview" box is clicked. Set it to "Remove: Lens
Blur" and set your Radius to 0.1 pixels. Make sure "More Accurate" is
switched on and that you are previewing the image at 100%. Now adjust
the slider until you see the desired result. The sharper the original
image, the less sharpening you'll need. If the original is very soft
you'll need to be much more aggressive with the amount and radius of
the sharpening. For this photo I set my Amount to 30.
the file and upload to a
site that won't resize automatically, and we are done with a basic
edit. These steps may not seem like they make a huge difference while
you're in the process, but if you compare the results side by side it's
amazing. Here is what a direct conversion of the image would look like
with no adjustments.