Digital Processing Work Flow

Step 1 I begin in adobe camera raw, adjusting to get a decent histogram.   If the photo has noise I use the camera raw noise reduction as I consider it excellent and I do my noise reduction at the beginning.  I use Adobe RGB color space because I may print the photo.  I use the photo for web only then I convert it srgb color space.  Next I save the raw file to a full resolution tif file.  If I anticapate printing the photo I save it as a 16 bit tif.

Step 2 Next I open it in Photoshop CS6 and crop if necessary and do some clean up work if required.

Step 3 I next will probably use NIK Viveza to take care of problem hot and dark areas adjusting brightness, contrast, vibration, saturation, structure, etc to give emphasizes to my photo subject.

Step 4 If the photo is really flat and lifeless I use NIK Color Efex Pro 4 "tonal contrast" to kick it up a notch.  I may use several filters stacked at this point to adjust the photo to my liking.  I almost always use "Darken/lighten Center" to give emphasizes to my subject.  I use the NIK plug-in's to Photoshop so they are always available in conjunction with both programs.  Occasionally I paint these NIK changes into Photoshop using the NIK provided mask to selectively vary the strength of the filter. 

Step 5 Now I come back into Photoshop and switch the filter in and out to see if the photo has been improved.  In some cases I reduce the layer opacity strength down.

Step 6 I determine what size I need the photo and reduce it to that size.

Step 7 Now I sharpen it using NIK Sharpener Pro 3.0  I determine weather to use sharpening for display or printing.  NIK has different routines for this.  I always sharpen selectively by painting it in on the NIK mask feature.  I never sharpen the sky.  I only sharpen things that I want to emphasize.

Step 8 If this photo is for the web, I convert the photo to a jpg format and compress it to an acceptable amount using the adobe Photoshop "save for web" command.

Step 9 If the photo is for print I resize it to desired dimensions at 300 px/inch resolution.  You may have to use the canvas size command to get desired results here.  Skip the sharpening above and do it now using NIK.

Step 10 If the photo is for print , my next step is soft proofing it using Photoshop.  I then use a variety of Photoshop adjustment commands (contrast, curves, saturation, brightness, etc.) to get the photo looking the same as it did without soft proofing.

Step 11 If all this work sucks, delete it all and find a new photo.

Last updated on August 3, 2013