I invited my latest photography student, Annette, over to my place for a demonstration of my post processing workflow. By workflow I mean the step by step process I follow to achieve the results I want with each RAW file I take with my camera. Post processing is as important as the camera gear you use combined with the photographic knowledge you employ to take the shot. Graphic software programs are the tools of post processing. I use Photoshop CC 2015, NIK Software plug-ins, Topaz Plug-ins and OnOne Software plug-ins. There’s so much to learn in the use of all this software someone can dedicate a lifetime to master all of it. You could compare a master carpenter or cabinet maker to a photographer. Learning to use all the tools he/she has available takes time to develop the techniques required to achieve a level of skill to make works of art. There are hundreds of free tutorials online for each of these software tools both on the software maker’s website or YouTube. All of the makers offer free trials of their software.
I showed Annette my favorite tools of the trade and the order in which I applied them. This is my own workflow that I’ve developed over a period of 10 years of trial and error. Anyone can learn to use graphic software if they are willing to dedicate the time to practice. Because I love photography I love learning my craft. In retirement I have all the time in the world to apply what I know about shooting the original image based on my knowledge of what my camera gear can do with what I know from experience that my graphic software can accomplish. I develop a mind’s eye of the final image I want before I press the shutter button.
I’ve given post processing lessons on graphic editing to other photography students in the past. Liz, my previous student, had the same reaction in my lessons with her sitting at her kitchen table using her laptop to post process her images. Both Liz and Annette came to the same conclusions on their own about the importance of shooting in RAW format so that they allow for the widest latitude of post processing. Once you make the switch most photographers seldom revert back to shooting in JPEG.
I had prepared a number of examples of before and after frames for Annette from a photo safari to the Oregon Zoo just yesterday morning. I made it a quick trip knowing that I was simply gathering fresh material for the lesson later that evening. I came home with 31 frames taken of animals and flowers. Any subject matter would have worked because my workflow remains the same. I just wanted to show Annette what came out of my camera and then the improvements and enhancements I made to achieve the final product. Here are some of the results I achieved and demonstrated to Annette.