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Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments


The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow


Lesson Info

Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments

If you're gonna do lots of retouching there's some forms of retouching that you can't do on a Smart Object, so you're gonna have to rasterize a version of that image to do some of the retouching on. So doing a Smart Object doesn't always mean you can do everything you need to do. So that's, you'll have to play with that on your own, because there is certain layers, if I create a layer mask on here to do some retouching you can't use, where is it here? Oh, where is it? There it is. The Patch Tool does not work on a Smart Object. So I would have to rasterize this layer. So that's just something to keep in mind. Coming back here I'll, don't save that, but it's great to be able to go back to that raw image file. The other thing is if I decided I need to rework the raw a little bit I can always go back to Lightroom, rework it, export it, and then just copy and paste it and replace the file in Photoshop underneath all of my layers at a later time. So not to get off in the weeds there. Let's ...

go ahead and move in and start working on some images here. So let me, where is Bridge? Somewhere down here. And those PSD files have shown up. So I'm gonna start, since we spent so much time with this kayaking image I'm gonna start there. I'll just open up these three and we'll work on those. And let's see, so I have actions actually and maybe we can share this action. Typically I have these actions, I have a ton of actions as you can see, but I have a cleaning action that basically builds all the layers I typically use. And I'm gonna go back and show you how I build those, just so you can see it, but I don't typically build all these things that I'm gonna do right off the bat for every single image. So coming back to the image here. We have it, there's some things looking at this image that I wanna remove from the image. Maybe like this little rock here. I might go into the sky and my monitor's a little dirty, so look at this monitor up here to see if there's any dust spots there. This is a seven day kayaking trip and this is like day five of the trip, so there might be some dust spots on the sensor, since we were in the middle of nowhere camping. So first thing I'm gonna do, and I'm very organized. I will say this segment is not gonna be super in-depth Photoshop world. There's tons of CreativeLive classes that they've done that are way more in-depth that span two, three, four days, super deep into Photoshop. I personally downloaded Pratik Naik's high end, The Art of High End Retouching class and I was blown away by how great that class was. Even though it was mostly portraiture, there was a lot I learned from that. And my knowledge of Photoshop, I'll just say, is limited. I know what I know and I don't know what I don't know, just like all of us. And there's tons of people out there that know way more about Photoshop than I do. As a working pro I'm not spending eight hours on an image. I don't have that kind of time. If I have a client that needs like amazing retouching done on a portrait or whatever image, I farm it out, because they're gonna do a better job than I could do probably. And they'll do it in 1/3 of the time or even less than I would be able to do it in. But I have picked up quite a few tricks for my style of work generally, which is this adventure, sports type images, or stuff like this where I've been able to fine-tune and bring that image up to a really high level, at least as far as I'm concerned on that level. And I'm very organized. This is something I learned from Pratik's class is come in here and organize your stuff, so that if somebody, if I do have to give it to a retoucher they don't have to figure out the rat's nest of layers. Like they could look at it like oh, that's his retouching layer, these are his adjustment layers, these are his dodge and burn layers, this is very organized and simple. So Cleaning is what I usually call this layer. And I'm gonna come in here and I'm gonna create just a clear layer over that and that'll be the layer that I'm gonna clean my image on. So at this point I might come in here and move around a bit and see, like that little rock's not too offensive, but honestly one of the things I use a lot is the Spot Heal Brush, just because it's so quick and easy and oftentimes it's pretty good. And I might try, depending on what it is, I might use the Healing Brush, I might use the Patch Tool, or I might even come down here to the Clone Tool. It just depends on what we're doing and what works. Sometimes one of them works better than the other and you don't find out 'til you try in my experience. So moving around the image. We're at 50% here, so that's a pretty good place to start to look for dust spots. This looks pretty clean I gotta say. And this is something I do on every single image before it goes out to a client. There is something up there that's maybe a, that's a pretty large dust spot, or just because we weren't shooting, I think we were shooting at a fairly large aperture, so that's probably why that looks that way. It's a little hard to tell here with all the ambient light. That's good. It seems a little, something's odd there. But moving around. And this image has a little noise in it. I'm totally fine with that. I've seen prints of this image that are 20 by 30, 30 by 45 images and they look great, so I'm not worried. I could go in here and take out some of these little dots a little bit if I wanted to, but I don't wanna get too crazy there. Whoops, sorry, hit the wrong little thing there. Maybe the big ones, just so they're not distracting. And it depends on the client, honestly. If this is going to Nat Geo I'm not touching anything like that, I'm only taking dust spots out. If this is going, was shot for Red Bull, it's an advertising image, so ethics are a little looser on that end in terms of what you can take out or if you can remove anything. And that's the commercial advertising world. So that's pretty amazing that there's not that much there. Maybe I would also take out these little dots, just so there's not something out there in the bright water changing your, maybe even this little thing there. So maybe, and these are seaweed, kelp stuff sitting out there, that's not a big deal. They look like they could be dust spots actually, but they're not. So just a few of those little guys, not much. So typically I'm not doing a ton of cleaning here, that's why I clean my sensor before the shoot. And for some clients they ask me to clean the sensor every single night before the next day of shooting. And that's typically I job I do or I have an assistant that really knows how to clean a sensor do it and we might be doing it at two in the morning and you're bleary-eyed, so you gotta be really careful for some of that stuff. So cleaning there. Then I'll create another folder, whoops, let's put that folder up here. I'm gonna do this without the Wacom there. So this next group of stuff I'm going to do, and let me just delete that folder and go up here and create another one. So this folder is gonna be what I call adjustments and these are just gonna be adjustment layers. And what I typically do is I'm typically creating, first off, a Levels adjustment, and then, let's go back down here to Layers, a Brightness and Contrast layer. And I'm just gonna build them all up, so you can see them here. And then usually a Vibrance layer. And what's going on here is now we're in a real world pro photo color space. And you'll see my Histogram doesn't really look much different than it did in Lightroom, there's not much of a change at all. But you also see there's these pretty sizeable gaps on either side of the Histogram. Which it's a foggy morning, so technically that's very accurate, but I might chose to remove, so often I'm trying to stretch out that Histogram, so we get a full color range for the image. It also strips off like a layer of acetate on the image that's like slightly gray and it makes it look more real world, like your eyes saw it I think, if you kind of pull the Histogram ends in with a Levels adjustment. It also makes the image print massively better, as you'll see in the next section. But depends on what you're looking at. If you're doing a portrait and you start pulling these Levels adjustments in that highlight on somebody's face could get really bright and those shadows can get really dark and it looks really ugly. So you've gotta do it image by image and choose how far, as you'll see with this series of images we're working up today. So first thing I do here is Levels. And let's go up to the Properties layer so you can see this. So this is just the Histogram, these are your white and black points basically here, and you see if I pull this in it's brightening up the image, if I pull this in it's darkening down the image. These are your Output Levels, so this is technically pushing the Histogram, we're basically massaging the Histogram the whole time in Photoshop and Lightroom. So it's either pushing those end points in or pulling them out. One thing, shooting for Getty Images over the years and I don't really do a lot of stock photography these days, they had as their settings here three and 2.52 for their Output Levels. And the idea there was that if somebody was gonna print this image it pushes you just a hair off of the pure black and a hair off of the pure white, so that the paper doesn't show through if the image is printed. I think Photoshop's gone beyond that now, so you don't have to set those Output Levels, but it's something I do anyway just to protect the ends a little bit. And because lots of clients are still printing images and if I do send it to Getty then it's already in there or some other stock agency. And lots of people use different numbers there. Some people use five and 2.50, some people use 10 and 2.45, that seems to be a little egregious, but three and 2.52 is such a tiny little change that it does almost nothing. So again, as in Lightroom, I'm gonna grab one of the sliders here and hold down the Option key and I'm gonna pull it in. And I can see when I start clipping stuff. So amazingly I can pull this in and this has a different look than it looks if you just stretch the Histogram out in Lightroom and doing it here in an actual Levels adjustment, you get a different look to the image. There's also something I'm gonna show you, I can actually extend the dynamic range of the image here in the Levels dialog by doing this and I'll get to it here in a second, but let me finish this part. So I'm gonna clip those blacks a little bit. Sometimes you choose to clip the blacks a little bit, because it can anchor the image if you have some pure black in a color image. Depends on what you're doing it, if it's only going online I typically don't clip those pure blacks, 'cause to my eyes for this scene I can see detail everywhere, the sun was up, there's no pure blacks in this scene technically, it just depends on what you're going for artistically when you're working up the image. So I come back here. All right, and then this middle guy will brighten or darken the image. If I do an egregious adjustment, and by egregious I mean a pretty big, this is a pretty giant move with one of those guys over there. I might adjust this as well. And just a minor adjustment there. So we could come back down to our Layers and I turn this on and off, you see it's like I removed a whole cloud of fog there and it just pops way more, because we've also increased the contrast by adjusting the Levels like that. The rest of these adjustments up here are because of this Levels adjustment. So I added a Brightness and Contrast adjustment, because I've massively changed the brightness of the image and I might wanna either darken the image back down or even maybe add a little more brightness. And this Brightness slider does something a little different than the middle, this slider here in the middle on the Levels adjustment. Sorry, I have to go back between here because of the screen. So this slider here doesn't adjust the brightness in the same way that that Brightness slider does. So that's why I do it a Brightness adjustment layer here. And the Contrast here I often almost never touch that. If I wanna adjust the contrast I'm gonna do it a little more fine-tuned with some other tools. But that's kind of where I am. The other thing is when you do a big Levels adjustment like that you are changing your saturation. So for this image I might come back and even add a little bit more saturation. And see what you guys are looking at there, it's hard to tell what you're seeing on your computer or phone at home or tablet. And on the screen there it may or may not with all the lights in here it might be hard to see that saturation in there. And again, just as in Lightroom, I'm using the Vibrance slider. And here again, I would never go past plus with this Saturation slider. Because even if I get up to plus 15, like whoa, on my monitor at least those yellows are coming out pretty intensely. So I'm not gonna do that. So that's typically where I'm going with that. Let's go back to the Levels now, because you see there's layer masks on all of these adjustments. What I can do and if I go to the Properties panel, let me just hit that and redraw the Histogram, let's say I come in here and clipped part of the sky just to give it a little more contrast, but yet I don't wanna blow out in that red channel or in the yellows there. So what I can do is come back to my layer here, grab my brush, hit the B key, and let's make that quite a bit smaller. And for me I wanna be on a black layer to reveal what's behind the Levels adjustment. And I usually choose while that's dodging and burning, like 10 to 15%, somewhere like that for this part. And I'll come in here and I'll paint a little bit onto that to block part of that Levels adjustment I just did. So when I come back here and I had a really soft brush I must note there, hold down the Option key again. Okay, I missed it, so it's a little bit more down here. If I come back to the layer, make sure I'm on that, yep, and draw that back in. And I'm basically painting in, undoing part of my Levels adjustment just for the sky. And I might actually end up doing two or three different Levels adjustments just to paint over certain parts where I don't want the Levels adjustment applied. So it just depends on what I'm going for here. And I do this again. And you can see the Histograms change now, 'cause I just painted over part of that, but I am subduing part of those blown out stuff there. So on some images where I'm, especially where I'm drawing or drawing this in or something sometimes you get a Histogram where there's a really thin line going out to the edges. So you have your Histogram and then there's just thin lines on either side and I'll clip off those thin lines and then go in and paint over on the layer mask to recover whatever highlights or shadow detail was blown out or crunched. The same thing, I could do this on this side and then I could go back in here on my, let's make sure we're still on the, there we are, and I could go back in here and kind of paint over this if I wanted more contrast in the image just to recover some of the detail in these shadows and not blow them out. So if I go back to that right now and we look at this and I probably didn't get all of it, but you know. So you can figure out how much you wanna clip or not clip. And again, when you're shooting pay attention to the scene. Is there any pure black? Is there any pure whites in the image? The sun's off to the side here and Tony's boat might have a little bit of pure white reflecting off of the top of the sea kayak, but is that the end of the world? At this point it's an artist decision and not necessarily trying to replicate exactly what the scene was. So that is pretty much, this pretty much happens to all of my images, what I've just done here. The next step for me is a very creative step. I'll go back up here and I do some dodging and burning often. Dodge and burn. Whoops, didn't click on that. There we go. And again, as I showed you earlier, I have an action that sets all this up. And for dodging and burn there's, as in Photoshop, there's usually four to six ways to do almost anything you wanna do. The way I've found to dodge and burn that I like the best is I, whoop, not that, I create Curves layers and I create two of them. And I'm gonna go ahead and create the next one here. Let's go back. Now you see why I have an action, 'cause it would take forever to do this for every single image. And what I do here, let me go ahead and draw those Curves. So let me choose which one's which. Usually I put the bottom one as coming down and the top one going up in terms of the Curves. So I'll just take this Curve and I always forget which one's dodge and which one's burn if I'm being honest. I think burn is darkening and dodging is lightening, but I can't remember if that's true or not. Either way we get the job done here. So I'm gonna make this one brighter and I know I'm making the image look hideous right now, but you'll see, we're gonna take care of that. So now I go in and I just hit Command + I to invert those masks, so it takes us back to square one. And so now I know if I work in the bottom Curves layer I'm darkening that part of the image and if I work in the upper one I'm lightening that part of the image. So this is a way to get super custom tonal ranges in your image. You can do this in Lightroom if you want. I think it's a little bit more complex with the adjustment brush to do this. And here in Photoshop you can do really subtle dodging and burning. If you're a landscape photographer you might not understand that a lot of professional landscape photographers do serious dodging and burning on those images. Or for portraits, you can completely change how the lighting falls on somebody's face by dodging and burning. And retouchers do a truckload of dodging and burning on portraits often. Just part of the tools we have. So at this point I wanna change my layer to white that I'm gonna paint with, so I'm gonna go back to the brush here by hitting the B key, and for me I use the Flow and I drop it down to about 2%, 3%, somewhere in there. You can use the Opacity, it just depends on how you work with your Wacom tablet or your mouse or whatever you're using. It's much easier to do dodging and burning with a Wacom tablet. So for me, because I never pick up the pen, I just keep scribbling here, I use the Flow. If you do individual strokes and pick up the pen you can use the Opacity. So it just depends on how you do it. The other thing here is if we use Opacity, when you pick up the pen every single time we're creating hundreds and hundreds of history states and it's very difficult to go back if you go past it where you really wanna be, so that's the beauty of using the Flow here instead of the Opacity. And the other beautiful thing about the Wacom tablet is you can really easily scroll and make your brush size easier, it's much faster than using the bracketing keys. So for me, the first thing I'm seeing here is I wanna even out the tones. And I've done some of this with the graduated filter you saw in Lightroom, but I'm just gonna take a big one and kind of wack down the sky a little, oh, that's actually lightening it. Let me go back, so I'm right here, okay. We'll just drop that down a little bit, 'cause you see those blues and those colors really come out when I'm dropping that down. I might even come down in here, and these are very big, overall adjustments, and make that darker. And I might even come in here and open up those shadows just a little bit, very minute things. Toning this down, so I'm on the upper one. So if I turn this on and off, these are very, very subtle adjustments and that's the point. 'Cause it's super easy, if you go up to 10% or 15% with your Flow, like in two strokes you've gone way far past where you wanted to be. And I don't want people to know that I just like darkened the sky down, I want it to be very subtle. And you'll notice, my, if you haven't figured it out already, my look is a very understated, maybe some people would call it classic look. I'm not necessarily, though some of my images I do apply kind of a harder, edgier look, but my look is kind of the clean, understated, classic look. So that's just what it is and that's my taste. Not that it's good or bad, it just is what it is. Let's get this a little bigger. Some other things I might come in here, the fog. Oh, we're on lightening, undo that, and just do that. And the cool thing here is if I overdo it I can just go over here and click black and I'm basically removing whatever I just did. And so the beauty of this is it's ultimately changeable. So we're pretty close here. Maybe I would come in and just darken this down a little bit down there. It still feels a little dark up here. And I'm looking at this monitor, so it's hard for me to tell how that looks on the TV screen. And I'm seeing, as we spoke about earlier, I'm seeing way more colors on this monitor in this sky than I'm seeing on my laptop, because if you're only working at sRGB man, there's a lot of colors in this sky, the oranges and yellows, that you're missing here on your laptop. Which this is kind of an image that shows that a lot. If you're seeing a green color cast down here in the water that's not actually there that I can see on this monitor, so I don't really see a green color cast, but it's pretty deep blues there and some turquoises, which is the beauty of this image I think, because it's got these crazy colors in the sky that it's like a kaleidoscope of color coming down on this figure going off into the middle of nowhere. So that's typically what I do for every image. I might, on some images, do a whole bunch more and just start adding other adjustments layer where I'm fixing this or fixing that, but this is my basic getting the image from here to there and if you hold down the Option key and click on these eyeballs, so look how far we took this image beyond Lightroom. And this is why I feel like I need to go into Photoshop. Because if we printed this image it's not gonna look that great, but when we print this image it's gonna look pretty spectacular in terms of the pop and the really getting you into the scene. And this is a little bit of an extreme example, because of the fog. These other images we'll work up are not gonna be quite that bad. See what we're doing on time there. Let's work on something like this image where it's not fog, though there is a little bit of water spray. This is an image I shot recently in Peahi, otherwise known as Jaws. It was a 70 foot wave and big wave surfers, Kai Lenny, some really famous surfers were out there. I was sitting on a jetski the whole day for about 10, 12 hours, shooting from dawn 'til dusk. And this was like the fourth or fifth wave that rolled by right at like seconds after the sun came up. And literally you could fit a two-story house in the curve of that wave. It's hard to tell, 'cause there's nobody in there, but a person would be pretty tiny on that wave. So I was pretty psyched. The funny thing is sitting on a jetski is it was my first time being on a jetski in waves this big. I've been Teahupo'o and some other places shooting big wave surfing. I can't, I saw this image early, like within the first 10 minutes and I started looking down at the pictures like wow, look at that. And there's like, ah, I can't look at pictures on the back of the camera, 'cause I'm about to puke, 'cause we're like on a bucking bronco catching air off the top of these 70 foot waves on the shoulder of the wave. Even looking through the camera shooting was pretty exciting physically. So, anyway. But when I got this one, you just shot everything that rolled by, 'cause tons of surfers weren't able to catch the first, for the first few hours, only the surfers that were towing in could actually catch a wave, nobody could paddle into them, 'cause they were moving too fast. So I just keep shooting the open, the empty waves as we call them, because sometimes you get something like this. And this might be the best picture I got that entire day and there's no surfer in it. But it is very evocative. I've already sold a few prints to people from this image, so this is a picture you, I would like to have this on my wall. At this stage when I'm working it up I'm definitely think about that, how is it gonna look as a print? For this one, instead of building all that stuff, I'm just gonna hit my action and you'll see all that stuff's built instantly. Cleaning on this layer, I mean, let's zoom in a bit and see if there's any dust spots. There's so many water droplets that it's gonna be tough to, let me go in a little bit closer here. Usually 50% is where I kind of start. Looking around, I don't really see anything. We got water spray all over the place, so dust spots are gonna be pretty hard to find in this image. These little bright parts of the image, we might clean up some of those, but that would be getting pretty nitpicky. Like this one right here on the edge actually I might grab the Content Aware Fill and let me make my brush a little bit bigger. Just because that's right on the edge I might take that guy out. And maybe this guy, just 'cause they're a little distracting and I want you to look here, I don't want you looking over here. But that's part of the whole effect. There's stuff flying all over the image, so I'm not gonna get too crazy here. And again, on the Levels you'll notice here it's pretty well stretched out, so this Levels adjustment is not gonna make some giant difference on this image. It might make it pop a little bit more, especially in the blacks. I'm holding down the Option key again and I gotta be careful here, 'cause with waves especially it's really easy, as you see, for that to go pretty dark pretty quickly. And I'm already clipping, I'm not gonna clip here, 'cause there definitely wasn't any pure black in this image. And on this side I might actually clip a little bit of this, because some of those water droplets were being hit by sunlight and they should be pure white. And I'll probably go down here and put my Output Levels at three and 2.52, just so, as you'll see when we print in the next section some of the papers I'm using are not pure white. Ilford Gold Fibre Silk has a very yellowish cast, so if I clip it to pure white and don't move that Output Level over a little bit you might actually see some of the yellow paper showing through and that would not lend itself to a nice print. So here I might even back this off, 'cause I don't want there to be pure black in that image. I might clip this in here and then come back down to my layer mask and you'll actually see there's no layer masks on those in those upper two, the Vibrance and the Brightness and Contrast adjustment layers, 'cause it's rare that I actually do spot toning or spot vibrance or spot brightness, it's usually overall for the image. What am I doing here? So X to get to black, let's go to the brush. I'm gonna change this down to like 10% or something and then I'm gonna come back in here, still using a very soft brush, zero Hardness, and I'm just gonna come back in here and knock that down a little bit. So what that's doing is that's really allowing me to add some contrast and pop to the rest of the image, but tone down where it's affecting just this corner, so it doesn't go to pure black. So if we turn that on and off you can get to see what that's doing. It also dropped the brightness down a little bit, because I was moving the black slider. So if I'm going back up to my Properties, hello, computer. Let's go to Brightness. Come on. I don't know why it's not working there. Let's, oh, I'm on that, let me go to something else. Let me go to the cursor. Okay, let me drop, what is going on? Let me save this real quick just to make sure, you never know, with all this stuff connected to the computer it's pretty rare that I actually have Photoshop crash on me, especially 'cause we haven't added that many layers, but let's just make sure we save stuff before we get too far along in here. This is being saved back into that PSD folder right now, I will eventually move it somewhere else to where it should be with its other cousins here. One of the questions I thought was interesting is one of the students out there has a little bit of an issue when they use the Burn Tool about the image turning a little bit gray. Do you have any solve for that? Yeah, there's definitely, if you go too crazy with the dodge and burn it can actually change the colors. And especially, then you would have to come back in and do a Color Balance or some kind of color retuning on that specific area where you've dodged and burned a lot. So that happens, especially when you're doing a portrait, and you might be dodging or burning a bunch in places and it's changing the skin tone, so it's fairly noticeable on their face. You have to then again go back and rebalance the color just for that little section. And for that, let's see where we're at here. Woo-hoo, it works, all right. So for that what I might do above here is add in either a Color Balance or a Hue Saturation layer and then play with those sliders to actually retune the color. On most of my images I'm doing such a light dodge and burn that you don't see it if there is a color shift. Sometimes if you're doing really heavy duty dodging and burning that can definitely become an issue. It's pretty rare for me that I have to do that. But on portraits it seems to crop up a little bit more than it does on landscape pictures like this. Because landscape pictures if the hue changes slightly it's not like anybody's gonna know, but on a portrait we have this idea that we know what skin tones look like, so if the skin tone looks really funky in one place our eyes are drawn to that part of the portrait and we're also more sensitive about how we look, especially if it's a picture of you. When we're getting our portrait taken, like what's that green thing on my, the top of my cheek over here? So Properties, where am I at here? We adjusted the Levels and Brightness, so I'm probably just gonna come in here and do a Brightness adjustment on this guy. And hopefully it's looking okay for you at home. The nice thing about the Brightness slider, in the old days of Photoshop that was kind of a horrible tool to use, because it did not retain your white and black points, but they've worked on it now so it pretty much retains your white and black points in the image when you make, if you do a crazy Brightness adjustment then you might need to go back and look at your levels. Vibrance here, I did add some Vibrance in Lightroom. And typically when I'm working up images on a monitor this size, just so you're, what you're seeing here that I have to go back between Properties and Layers, when I have the full thing and I'm not connected to a video monitor I can see all of these, so I'm not clicking back and forth. They're just right above each other. For those of you at home. And you know, again, this is a place where I might wanna really push this more than I probably typically would. And how much I saturate it, like that's probably going a little far for me, though some people may like, woo, that's great. But somewhere in here. I want it to look somewhat natural, but a little bit surreal. I don't want it to look too fake because of the saturation. It's hard to tell on this monitor and this lighting if this is exactly where it should be, but when we make a print we'll find out real quick, because there might stuff, this might be too saturated for my taste once I get it onto paper. So easy peasy, moving pretty fast here. There's probably not gonna be a whole lot of dodging and burning here, but there are a few things I'm seeing, so I'm gonna go back to the brush, I'm gonna select white as my color, I'm gonna change my Flow back down to 3%, and I'm gonna go over here. And one thing I'm doing is I really wanna massage people's eye to go to this part of the thing, not to this super bright part. And I'm also increasing the contrast by darkening down some of these areas of the image. Maybe that sky. And then I wanna lighten up this some more, it seems like that got a little dark. So I'm kind of trying to, like I was talking about earlier in Lightroom, massage where your eye goes in the image. There's so much going on here and there's a big loop in the middle of the image, so it's pretty hard for your eye to go off the edge of this image. These guys over here with this bright white exploding water are drawing your eye away, but I think it's a strong enough image overall that it's not too crazy. And again, if I went too crazy I'm technically, just like on our last question, changing the tones of the image as you saw when I actually did the Curves it did some massive stuff, but I'm only doing 3%, 5%, 6% every time I draw on this, so it's small here. See, which one am I on? So that's probably pretty close to where I worked it up originally. If we go here and, that's a pretty massive difference from opaque to, and this is also because I didn't stretch things out in Lightroom. It wouldn't be as much of a difference if you really cranked Lightroom up and exported it. Here in Photoshop I just have a lot more control over those end points, I have a lot more pinpoint control. And you saw how crazy I get with color, so that kind of explains my workflow process at this point. And again, this is just one way of doing things. I'm not saying this is the best way, this is just a way. This is how I've worked up my images. It's just an example. Take from this what you want. This is also what I've learned from printing. I talked about color management in monitors earlier and when we start printing it's amazing how much you learn about your photography when you start printing. You start seeing stuff in images that you never see on the monitor. Like you'll see dust spots on a print immediately and you may have to look really hard on your monitor. And you'll see other little things that you have to fine-tune on a print that you may or may not see on your monitor. So that's kind of the beauty of printing your images and that helps you take it to a higher level when you're working up your images.

Class Description

Setting up a practical and efficient workflow with your photography feels like a daunting part of your business. Internationally recognized photographer Michael Clark introduces you to techniques to allow you more time to shoot the images you want. His workflow philosophy is that you must first know how you are going to edit the image in post production to know how you need to shoot it.

In this class Michael teaches:

  • Best practices for a shooting workflow from setting up your camera to histograms and exposure
  • How to clean the sensor on your DSLR camera
  • Color management workflow including your work environment and monitor calibration
  • An overview of Lightroom® and multiple ways to speed up your workflow including file folder and batch naming as well as metadata and archival processes
  • Techniques to finalizing your images in Photoshop® with basic adjustments and retouching
  • Making fine art prints, choosing your printer, paper, understanding ICC profiles, and much more!

Michael covers everything you need to know in order to streamline your post production workflow in Lightroom® and Photoshop® and best practices for printing your art at home. Digital photography is far more complicated than shooting film ever was. Knowing the best practices for a digital workflow will make you a better photographer.


1Class Introduction
2Shooting Workflow: Set-up The Camera
3Shooting Workflow: Histograms and Exposure
4Shooting Workflow: Sensor Cleaning
5Overview of Color Management
6Color Management: Monitor
7Color Management: Workspace
8Color Management: Monitor Calibration
9Color Management: Do I Need This?
10Introduction to Lightroom®
11Download & Import Images With Lightroom®
12Lightroom® Preferences
13Six Ways to Speed-up Lightroom®
14To DNG or Not to DNG?
15A Logical Editing Process in Lightroom®
16File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®
17Batch Renaming in Lightroom®
18Entering Metadata in Lightroom®
19Managing Images in Lightroom®
20Introduction to the Develop Module in Lightroom®
21Lightroom® Develop Module
22Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration & Vignetting in Lightroom®
23Graduated Filters & Spot Tool in Lightroom®
24Converting images to Black & White in Lightroom®
25Creating Panoramas in Lightroom
26Creating HDR Images in Lightroom®
27Lightroom® to Photoshop® Workflow
28Export Images to Photoshop®
29Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments
30Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching
31Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Saving Master Files
32Make Fine Art Prints: The Cost
33Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Printers
34Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Papers
35Make Fine Art Prints: Understand ICC Profiles
36Make Fine Art Prints: Sharpen Image
37Printing From Photoshop®
38Printing From Lightroom®
39Compare Monitor to Physical Prints
40Printing Black & White Image
41Extended Workflow: Back Up Images
42Extended Workflow: Storage Options
43Extended Workflow: Archiving Images
44Submitting images to Clients
45Prepping Images for Social Media
46Alternative Workflows
47Final Q&A