May 9, 2018 / Techy Tuesday
My Post Processing Workflow
Hi friends! I think we are going to name Tuesdays “Techy Tuesdays”. So here is the inauguration of the first Techy Tuesday- my photography post processing workflow. I get a lot of questions from friends, clients, and fellow photographers on how what happens to the pictures after they’re taken. I don’t claim to be the best at this, but I’ve been doing it for awhile and have come up with a system that works pretty well for me. All photographers do this differently, this isn’t the end all be all way for sure. Anyway, I am excited to share my process with you, so let’s get into it!
I import my photos directly to Lightroom from (what’s usually) my SD card. I highlighted smart previews because while I don’t do them, I know I need to, and will start doing it asap. I don’t do it mainly because I believe it takes a tiny bit of extra space and I work off external hard drives right now. Ick. I always rename the gallery before importing, this makes it easy to find later. I also almost always input keywords on import for my own searching reasons.
Once I select where the images will go, I start culling.
A lot of photographers don’t even know what culling is, so I feel the need to explain. It’s simply the process of elimination. This is a very underrated part of the post-processing…process. I think many of us don’t take this seriously enough, I could do a whole blog on culling alone (probably will). My first pass I reject all the unusable photos, and will 5 star anything that makes me want to clap my hands and kiss my computer. I try not to rate at all during the first pass but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I only try not to because I’d like to focus on one thing at a time. Oh well!
I also will separate by highlighting all the film shots and all of the blog shots (normally that comes at the end though). Film is in Yellow, and blog, purple. This is important for me for tagging purposes, submissions (sometimes I will submit to film only magazines), and technical reasons (in case I need to see when I used film for what…etc.).
Then I create a category within Lightroom for the whole photoshoot.
Then I do a second pass for further culling, now it’s time to take all the ones I like and make it into a gallery of all the ones I love. I will rate 2-5 normally. 1 stars just kind of don’t count. Then I just weigh how many I have, if I have 400 images with 3+ stars, then I will look at 4+ stars. If that gets down to 200 or so (we are not talking weddings here, which would be a lot more) then that will be the start of my final gallery. From there I will take similar shots and compare them against each other. I do this by selecting as many as I want that are similar, and select “Survey”. This helps me directly compare similar shots. I will choose my favorite, and downgrade the other one (from 4 stars to 3).
Then it’s editing time, finally. If I’m not using a preset, I just go down the line on the right. I can’t wait to do a blog about editing but that’s not really what this one is about. Okay, so let’s pretend this image is done! Moving on…
When I’ve reached my limit in Lightroom, I’ll take the image (if necessary) into photoshop.
Here I decided I wanted to crop this particular image (different from above, I know). This has been mostly edited but for the sake of example… I will first work on major blemishes on skin (which she has none) and then anything distracting in the background (which there are none, I promise an editing post soon). And then I might use a filter like Portraiture.
I’m straying away from Portraiture pretty strongly right now, it’s great, but I don’t need it much since I’m getting used to frequency separation. But here I set it up and applied it on a duplicate layer.
After that I decreased the opacity on the above layer by 50% to make it look less intense, and more natural.
All done! When I’m done, I’ll save the image and go back into Lightroom (where the edited image will be). Rinse, repeat.
When I feel all the images are done, I’ll do what I call “Batch Editing” (this probably totally means something else to every other photographer in the world). I have somewhat recently starting doing this but I am finding it incredibly important to maintain consistency. I will look at the gallery in thumbnails and do a big “flyover” for images that stick out to me in a negative way. This may be because it’s edited far differently than the others (maybe it’s super cool toned, when the rest are warm?), in which case, I will re-edit the image to fit better. Or maybe it just doesn’t fit with the whole gallery… in this somewhat rare case, I’ll just cut the image from the final gallery.
Phew! Exporting time! To export, I create a new folder, name it accordingly, and will put the images in it. Pretty standard. For my client galleries (unless otherwise noted) I export at FULL RESOLUTION! …and all the IPS people gasp… Yes, I give out digitals, because we live in a digital age, another rant, for another time.
I also create separate folders within the main one to designate images for other usages. Mainly blog, social media, film. For blog and social media, I export a much smaller JPEG and decrease resolution to 260.
Whew! That was kind of a lot. I hope that was helpful! Please comment with questions, I’d love to start a conversation around this, I’m always fascinated about the behind the scenes work.