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Post-Processing for Outdoor and Travel Photographers

Lesson 12 of 38

Processing Images: Image Optimization

Ben Willmore

Post-Processing for Outdoor and Travel Photographers

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

12. Processing Images: Image Optimization

Lesson Info

Processing Images: Image Optimization

so I'm going to go to the develop module I just clicked on a picture I pressed the letter d to go to develop but if I don't like keyboard shortcuts so I could just go to the top of my screen and if I click on this little guy I could have just clicked on the word develop but if you get used to the letter d for getting there then it just becomes almost an automatic reaction in this particular image you will see that the sky doesn't contain much of any detail I want to see if I can get some in there and I just want to show you some of the limitations even when you shoot raw when it comes to highlight details there's only so much highlight details that camera rock can recover in when it gets to its limit you really gotta look out for it because otherwise you could get some really artificial looking areas so in this case I don't like the brightest part of the picture and how bright it is so I'm going to bring down my highlights and it doesn't seem to be doing all that much to the sky if I b...

ring it back and forth you can see a slight change but not enough so anytime max out the shadows are the highlights then I go up to the exposure slider and moving an equal they're not equal move in the same direction I wanted to move the other slider but if I go watch what happens in this general area right here it will start bringing in some information but it's not really information that looks good if you guys can see it or not what's happening is the part of the sky that's right in here is grey it's not blue whereas the actual sky color it had I under exposed this more would have been a blue sky so any time you're ending up darkening the bright part of your image and you something looks to be white be very careful if you're not able to get that area to come back and bring you full detail look at the transition from wherever you have solid white into the next darker shade and make sure that it looks somewhat appropriate because often times you can end up getting it's kind of a grey band and I don't know if you can see it up there so much I'm not sure how well it's coming over the broadcast but it's something to really look out for because there is a limit to how much you can go in this particular case it would be one of those instances where I would hope that I would teo bracketed my shots and had more than one image so I could combine them together in a process called high dynamic range hdr which will get into a different day so this particular image I'm reaching the limits there and that's where when you're in your camera out shooting watch out for big spikes on the right side of the history ram when you're shooting or you could turn on ah highlight warning your camera where it actually blink on the screen wherever it's solid white and know that you can get back some of that detail but if it's over a huge area like the entire sky you're going to be limited and you might not get it all back if you get close to bringing it all back watch for those gray areas we could always do maurin photoshopped in this image I noticed the history ram jammed all the way against the right gap on the left anytime is jammed against one side with a gap on the other I use exposure to just move the history graham away from the side it was jammed up against and I do that like this and then after I get it where they get it far away from being jammed up against the side then I'll start looking at the image and seen if I could maybe brighten up the shadows a little bit he and that's with it but again I'm going to be limited if it's jam too far this white sky even if I bring my highlights down I doubt I'm going to get really useful detail in it so watch out when you're in the field with booth huge spikes on the right side of your history graham or with large areas blinking it's okay to have small areas you can usually recover those but large areas there's going to be a definite limit in this image I think I have both the bright and dark areas that aren't looking so great so in this case the image is a hole I would say that your area that dominates the image takes up the most space is something that needs to be brightened so I'll bring up my exposure a bit I noticed my highlights in here getting to be way too bright so let's bring highlights down and then my shadows and out here this looks just a little bit bright to my eye and I have already darkened the highlights as much as I can so I might bring my exposure down a little and then remember contrast is the difference between bright and dark if there's too great of a difference between bright and dark think about going to contrast and fine tuning it bringing it down well sometimes mellow it out bring it down too far always makes your mitchell dull so it's a kind of delicate adjustment whenever you're reducing it to not bring it so far that it becomes dull I find when I bring contrast down to prevent the image from looking dull I usually bring up clarity clarity ends up emphasizing the little textures in the image if I bring it up you could make the image pop a little bit more and kind of compensate for lowering the uh the contrast so in this dimensional reset before after you see quite a big difference and is just a matter of thinking about overall brightness with exposure brightest and darkest areas with highlights and shadows and then bringing back into it the idea of contrast contrast is how big of a difference is there between bright and dark if there's two huge of a difference then you might need to bring it down a little bit in the trickiest when you bring it down a little bit in order to make the image not look dull is to bring clarity the opposite direction in that brings some of the pop back into the image all right then below we have vibrance and saturation let's look at vibrance in saturation along with the other controls that affect color which is temperature intent temperature tent vibrance and saturation if you want your image to look more colorful you need to come down to vibrance or saturation to do it be careful if you end up using saturation because it's very easy to start losing detail in your picture where usedto have a smooth transition there used to be some little detail showing up here if you get this up to high suddenly you can have large areas of flat color showing up in your image that don't look natural and the reason for that is saturation treats all colors equally in it boosts every color an equal amount and sometimes certain colors max out to his colorful as they could possibly become and if you try to push it even further that's when the details starts going away vibrance is different though vibrance is going to work on the less colorful areas mawr in a work less and less as you get into the mohr and more colorful areas of your picture it'll start applying it less and less so when an image or a area within your picture starts maxing out to be a cz colorful as it possibly could be bringing vibrance up even higher ends up changing that area less unless unless it gets into those really vivid areas and makes it so you can get away with a much larger changing your image so let's interpret this photo and I'll show you how you can figure out exactly what should be black and your image that type of thing in this image I want these guys to look like they're in silhouette I don't want you to see the detail it's there because I like the graphic shape what I might end up doing in this particular case is I might simplify the image had crop it in this case because the details of the bottom to me pull me away from those guys in this particular case so I might bring this in a little tighter make it a little more panoramic have you clean up on the edge where I see a little bit off detail there uh then I'm going to come in and I'm going to just see what happens if I end up adjusting my highlights because the brightest part of my images where the sun is and I might want to tone it down or bring it up see exactly what aiken end up controlling their clarity is going teo also help me out in this particular case the detail within the sky will be accentuated got to be a little bit careful when you have silhouettes though anytime you have silhouettes be careful that you're not getting little kind of glows around them if you crank clarity up really high which a lot of people will dio you're going to end up getting weird halos around people if they're in silhouette so try toe restrain yourself from going to high this particular image is he a sensor dust back there so I'll go to my uh tool that's designed for cleaning that might see a couple of them in there but then there's a control in here that I use as a finishing technique it's something that I use after I've a dustin most of the other controls there's actually two sliders that are used for it and what those are are the blacks and the whites blacks and whites so with the blacks and the whites this is gonna work on on ly the absolute brightest party your picture and only the absolute darkest you're really going to determine is any part of your image going to truly be solid black with this slider and the other slaughter you could determine how much of your image might be solid white so if I bring the black slider to the left it's gonna darken the darkest part of our image cause maura mohr areas to become solid black if I bring it up it might prevent the darkest part of my image from going solid black it depends on the image as faras what she'd like there but in the vast majority of images I would say in ninety plus percent of the images I want a least a small area of black if I don't have a small area of black when I compare this image to others it's just not gonna have this much impact it's not goingto have the full range of contrast that some other pictures have so there's a hidden feature built into the slaughter that can show me exactly where within my picture anything is becoming black and the way you access it is you hold on the option key and you click on the black slider and if anything shows up other than white in here those areas that are starting to either close to black or r black if they show up in color they're not quite black yet but if you bring this down far enough where he actually see black instead of colors wherever you see solid black in this view you have solid black and so I make sure that I haven't leased a tiny little area of solid black and the vast majority of images I just if I don't do that then the images that don't have solid black in a small area end up looking dollar then images that do so if you ever see me on the wall together you'll find that there's just something that feels different about a few of them in it's that they don't have that that full range on some images I'll look on the right side of the history graham to see if whites would help and this is something that I do on water falls all the time so let's see if we can find a waterfall image and in this case we have clouds that are brighter than the waterfall so it won't quite apply eyes is much but uh it can still be helpful if you're done adjusting an image of a waterfall uh look on your history gram that's this little bar chart and see if there's a gap on the right oftentimes there will be for the waterfall if there's ever a gap on the right side of the waterfall it means the brightest part of your image is not white and the bigger the gap is the further the brightest part of your images from being white and with waterfalls if you have any light hitting the waterfall like directly from the sun there would always be little pieces of white in there in the little white water that's at the bottom of the waterfall that type of thing this particular waterfall was in the shade so it didn't have those little white highlights that air in it so whenever you're done adjusting a waterfall glance on the right side looked for a gap and if you ever find a gap goto the whites slider the white slider adjust the absolute brightest part of your picture and what you want to do to it is just watched that gap on the right side look at this little gap right here I'm gonna bring up whites until the gap goes away not even looking at my picture yet bring up that hand right about the air there it gets all the way to the end the gap went away then look at your picture in see if it improved your image what you just did is you made the brightest part of your picture white before it was more of a dollar lighter shade and if you want to see before and after just move your mouse on top of the white slider in double click on it and then don't move your mouse so that if you click a third time you'll bring it right back to where it wass so I'm just over here to the white slider but my moss right on it and I carefully double click and then click one more time to pull it back over here do you see the difference in the waterfall doubleclick before bringing that back up after the only problem here is we have clouds above it and the clouds are really where the actual white is showing up and so I'm gonna ignore the clouds for now just act as if I had a different kind of waterfall we didn't include the sky in it and let's see exactly where things are turning white I can do that by holding on the option key in clicking on the white slider and if I bring it up it'll start to show me where the image is becoming white I'm going to bring it up in ignore the sky for now and look at the waterfall do it until the first part of the waterfall turns white then if I double click on the slaughter before after you see my brighter it is and what I'm thinking about is when I end up bringing it up so the brightest part of the waterfall turns white that's usually the highest I'd want it and so I do this and say does that help and if so do I want to go that far because I'm at the extreme right now and if it's too far I just back off on it a little bit tomorrow we'll learn how I could prevent this change from affecting the sky there's a way I could paint over the sky to say don't affect this part he and then I can get a similar change but still not get my clouds blowing out tio white like that but any time you have waterfall or you have a stream or a river something that's got white water going it's like coming over some rocks and turning into white water see if it's going on your history and see if you have gap on the far right side and if so it's the indication that it might improve the picture by bringing up the white slider to make the brightest part of your picture closer and closer to white and therefore you get closer to the full brightness range that you could have worked with now we also have to be doing these basic adjustments when we're not just working out a single image we want to work on a siri's of images maybe it's that you found a sequence in your folder of images where you have five images that looked very similar but it's really hard teo evaluate them when they're in their unprocessed state maybe they're too dark maybe they're a little dull feeling that type of thing or you have a panorama in you want to adjust the entire panorama not just one piece so I believe I had a few panorama shows in our shots that we imported earlier today so why don't I come in here and find one of those and look at how we might end up processing it all right so here's a pan around got a sunset going on and the panorama looks to start right here and the end is looks like right there so hold shift we'll click on the end so get him all then when I just multiple images of its a panorama I look across the panorama and say what's going to be the most critical part where if I screw that part of the whole thing is probably not going to be worth it it's not going to be this end where we just have apps um brush that's sitting there it's probably going to be this shot right here where the sun is if I screw up that part of it the rest of it's probably not going to be worth stitching so that's what I'm going to make my most selected by clicking on now express the letter d to go to the develop module and that's the only image I'm looking at at the bottom right of my screen when I'm in the developed module to remember the choice called auto sync auto sync mean it's our should the changes that I'm applying to this image apply to the others that are selected I want to make sure that's turned on and it's just a little light switch right here to turn it off we're on but I want it on and now let's optimize this picture in this particular image I'm going to see if I can get the brightest part of the image to be a little darker get a little more density into my sky so I might bring my highlights down I might try to get it so there's more separation between these various levels of the mountain there's a couple different ways of doing that I could just see what happens if I just the shadows bring out a little bit more detail or suppress it but I don't usually want to show a lot of detail in the foreground because just going to distract away from the sun what I like is the graphic shape of the mountains not the actual individual trees that make up them I have clarity which is the thing that's usually going to give me some separation between those so if I bring up clarity do you see start to get a little bit of separation between the mountains so it's a matter of how far in clarity is also going to affect the top part of the sky there is a way that will talk about tomorrow where I could make it only affect the bottom and that's when we talk about isolated adjustments working paint him into the image so now that I could make this only affect the bottom so when I'm evaluating clarity when I get it up really high I might not like where the sun is but I would be able to make it only affect the bottom after we've done well to tomorrow when it comes to sunsets usually vibrance is going to be better than saturation because you're going to have an extremely vivid area around here and you don't want to overdo it or you lose the detail so bringing up vibrance is going to be usually the solution and the other thing that's going to affect the look of a sunset quite a bit will be your wife since white balance is usually what we use for color correction but we can also use it for pushing color into the image and if I take the temperature slider moving towards the right we're going to push this image more towards yellow colors in away from blue colors and that's going to make it feel warmer before it was over here if I push it over this way we can get a much warmer and when it comes to tent if you push it towards magenta you'll also get more color in that but it's really where can I get the most of variation in color often times and that's not always pushing it straight into magenta or pushing it straight in the yellow sometimes it's a matter of just fine tuning it until you like how the colors very one other thing that's going to affect sunsets quite a bit might bring my exposure down here little it in contrast is setting that is a little bit more technical in nature but could be helpful here it's under a choice called camera calibration this is stuff that people rarely get into but could be overly useful when it comes to sunsets if you want to not play with the individual sliders you can just change one menu up here it's called profile and these will give you different interpretations of your image similar to using a different brand of film if you switched from kodak film to fuji film it would render the colors differently in this will also make the colors render quite differently so let's see the difference we can get by simply changing the profile setting there's camera faithful if I don't like it as much as what I had a moment ago I'll simply choose undo with command z and then I'll choose the next choice camera landscape will always be overly saturated any fall if you've already adjusted your picture it'll probably be too much because you've already punched pumped up the saturation and will become too much but if you he chews it first before adjusting your image it could be acceptable in some and then I could just choose the next down and do each one of these to see if there is one that I liked better than the others when I find is with these I find it cumbersome to be have to switch between these each time so let me show you a quick way of visualizing what they would look like without having tio go to the menu and manually switch between them so far we've been in the developed module we haven't done much in the left side of our screen if I go to the left side of my screen though and click on the little triangle over there to expand it we have a full history of what we've done so if you look at the history it tells you that you imported this photo on this particular day at this particular time and after that this is the very first thing you did to adjust the image and this is the next and so on if I want to see what the image would look like it any one of those previous state's maybe I'm not sure if the last four three things I did actually improve the picture all they need to do is move my mouse over this area in hover over those history steps and watch what happens in this little preview of the top if you don't see the preview of the top you can collapse this down or expanded he'd have to just make sure it's expanded but as I mouse over the various steps in the history look at the preview of the top can you see it how you can kind of see the evolution of your picture if you started at the very bottom that's what it looked like when you imported it and you can slowly work your way up and if it any point you find that a degraded it just click on that particular step and you'll instantly this will update so that that's the step that you end up using but that's not all that we have over here his history we also have presets in with presets you can set up a preset that would show you what those various settings would look like remember the setting over here is called profile and we had this list within it well I've set up some presets over here called ben's calibration and these are the various choices that were available in that menu so now to see the difference in them instead of having to manually go through the menu each time and if I don't like it choose undue I just hover over these choices and I watched the preview at the top and it's much easier to switch between them when you can just mouse up and down like that that make sense so let's look at how do I create these previews well what you do is you adjust your picture so that you have whichever settings you would like to have in your preset already specified on your picture so in this case maybe we change this menu to the one that will be overdone which is called camera landscape then over in the presets area there's a little plus sign right next to the word pre center on the right side if I click on it this comes up and asked me to name my pre set and I'm gonna call this profile and then camera landscape and then down here it wants to know how much of the adjustment that's been applied to this picture should it include in the preset should it change every single thing we've applied to this image or should only say part of what we've done so what I'm going to do if there's a button down at the bottom called check nine click on it so that none of these check boxes they're turned on and I'm just going to turn on one called calibration because that's where this setting this found isn't under camera calibration and what that means is saved on ly the settings that have changed within this part of light room in this preset so if I apply this preset to a different image it's not going to change every setting like the exposure setting in the highlights and the shadows setting that we don't what happen if I turned on these check boxes instead it's only going to change the calibration and then I can put it into a folder here I'll create a new folder you just call this monday so I remember why I made it and so now it's going to create a brand new folder to store these in and I'm gonna have one called profile candid camera landscape I click create I already have one called that's just say okay and now I have that preset sitting there and so if you simply spend the time to make one preset for each one of these options then you only have to do that once in the future if you ever want to see how it would affect your picture you just opened a little folder that contains them and hover over them and on ly if you find one that you like do you click on it and it actually applies it to your picture and so on other days of this seminar I'll show you some precepts that I like to use like I have some color tweaking presets if I want to see what would happen if I increase the vibrance in saturation in certain ways I can very quickly do so with these I can go over here in with I'll show you that in landscapes the greens often don't look good for one thing it's specific about landscape photography so I have a preset that helps try to deal with that I also have many other presets for adjusting various kinds of white balance because sometimes the simple white balance change can make a dramatic difference but I don't like having to experiment with all the settings manually so doing it here ends up making it much faster and just more easy tio to deal with maybe ask one or two questions only just covers certainly great one from offer can you please explain how I can sample a color for the adjustment brush from the photo instead of from the color plate well we haven't talked about the adjustment brush it all yet so if we can hold off on that yeah might want to hold off on that but we're going to get into the adjustment brush tomorrow perfect so stay tuned for that one and then one from greg anderson can you set new miracle black and white points in light room five to avoid clipping and printing like ten and two forty five we talked about setting up these profiles uh when when you're saying if the profile's not that I am aware of most of the time when I end up setting that you the time that I think of setting highlight in shadow values is actually when we're going to print on a printing press and with that that usually means my image is going to end up going to photo shopped at some point being being converted to see him why k mode in the settings involved with that automatically handle that there's a thing called blacking clement in a setting called totaling clement in those end up getting applied to the image what I would do when it comes to these things for desktop printing is usually it's more in the profile that's used for printing where those things would be handled but I am not aware of off the top of my head where there's a setting within light room itself other than the printing profile that you use in output but usually that's amore appropriate place to handle it because if you apply it to your image itself you'll find that you've now adjusted this image for one particular kind of output because the reason you'd want to do that is for printing usually and therefore it's not gonna look good in slide shows so it would be better to do it in the print module through the print profile it's used I wouldn't do it to the individual images

Class Description

It’s time to make the images you capture as you travel or explore the great outdoors even more jaw-dropping. Join photographer and image editing expert Ben Willmore to explore the Lightroom and Photoshop tools that will optimize your images to really make them shine while keeping them easy to find and organized.

In this course, you’ll master the post-production process every travel and outdoor photographer needs to know. From panorama stitching to HDR to fixing distortion in architectural images, you’ll dive deep into the editing tasks best performed in Photoshop. You’ll adjust and optimize your images – even if they’re overexposed, underexposed, or have color or contrast issues. You’ll also learn how to organize your images with Lightroom make them easy to find by location taken, subject, or date. Ben will cover specific tips on uploading and organizing while you are still on the road that will save you time and make things easy when it is time to edit. You’ll also develop an editing workflow that helps you retouch quickly and efficiently.

If you’re ready to spend more time outdoors taking stunning photos and less time stuck indoors processing (or finding!) them, this is the course for you.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 14.2



After catching parts of each of the three days, I knew that I would need to have access to this wealth of information. What is great about the program is the ability to stop and go back over something that is not fully understood...and be able to do that until confident enough to move on. I saw no "fluff" in the course, just great information imparted with a style that is makes it easy to understand. CreativeLive scored a big hit with this course! The bonus material is SO valuable, especially the presets. That saves an enormous amount of time for me. My appreciation of the power behind the software is becoming ever clearer. Thanks, Ben, for another outstanding presentation!

Shannon Beelman Photography

Ben has been amazing! He is a wealth of information on organizing images as well as great tips to make your travel images pop just a little more. I came into this class feeling like I had a good handle on lightroom and have come out with a better understanding of the power of the software to make artistic life easier. He covers tips, tricks and little known options that help make workflow smother. I have sat here watching as much of the free broadcast as I can and in this last week I have gotten control over years of images in my lightroom. This is one I know I will be buying soon.


Great class! Somehow, it was enjoyable not having Ben default to "curves for everything"! I don't think the title for this course did it justice, tho. This class was 90% Light Room and 10% Photoshop. I was very happy to discover that dynamic and equally as happy to purchase this course! If you are new to Light Room, this class is a MUST. Creative Live offers several LR classes but this is the one to own. Ben is working on his new book about Light Room Mastery - can't wait! In the meanwhile, I'll be watching Ben's thorough approach to LR in this video. So, don't let the title throw you a curve ball, if you are new to Light Room or a seasoned user, there's plenty of great information - delivered as only Ben can! Thanks CL for this great class!