Editing 1: Sunset At The Beach
So welcome to the editing. Before I even start editing an image I want to know roughly where I'm going. A direction. But this one I know that it was shot late in the day, past sunset at blue hour, so I'm not gonna go and start pulling purple out of the sky because there isn't any. You can bring it out but it's not gonna be nice. It's not gonna be true to what happened. I want to go with what happened. It doesn't mean it has to be exactly like it was. It's my interpretation of it, but I want to stay true-ish to it. Every edit is different and I don't want to start making things up. So my direction here is going for the coolness of the moment. It's blue outside and my edit is gonna reinforce that. So just have a general direction before you start editing, because otherwise you're gonna go to a bunch of different places and not get the results you want. Just sit down for 30 seconds even and think about how it was, what do you notice, and then bring back to life in the edit. Hey Alex Stroh...
l here. I'm gonna be editing this first photo of the workshop. It is the sunset at the beach at dusk. Let's do it. But really quick let me show you my before and after. So that's just before, the raw image, and this is my after edited version. Before. After. So here I took three different exposures as you saw in the, in the film. And I'm gonna walk you through how I do it in Lightroom HDR. But the subtle ones not, the super crazy. So I just take my three images overexposed, under expose, and normally exposed, and then right-click, photo merge, HDR. And now it's creating the preview. Takes a bit of time. I'm gonna fast forward that. I rarely tinker too much with the settings here. I think my deghost amount at low. I always hit auto align and I just hit merge. So now Lightroom's processing that. And fast-forward that as well. All right so now the HDR is made. You can see in the file name it says HDR at the end and dot DNG instead of CR2. And you're gonna see in this conditions with the crazy contrast like the dark roof inside the A frame and the outside being pretty bright, even at sunset, editing in HDR it's so much easier. And I'm going a little crazy here, but I want to show you the amplitude of editing we have in the highlights and the shadows. So when I edit first thing I do straighten my photo and crop it. Then I start playing with the highlights usually, see what's a safe zone to be what still looks natural and moving to my curves. Drop a couple anchor points three to four usually and the curves are so powerful. It's, for me, it's where I get most of my adjustments done. Then I adjust with the sliders above but for now I'm placing some points. Just so I make my shadows a bit more faded to achieve that film look. Then my mid-tones I like to raise. And I bring my shadows down just have more contrast. So I'll bring the very deep blacks high, so we get that faded look and then I'll bring my shadows down to get more contrast. So this phase is really experimental. Every time I'm doing a new preset or doing it from scratch, I go through a lot of changes and then like to backtrack to see what's going on, but for now I'm still trying to work my light to make it feel like it was when I shot the photo. Once I'm done with my exposure and my curves, I move on to the HSL panel. And a lot of adjustments take place here, because I'm trying to be consistent with my blues in all of my work. I love blue, I love the water, and it's a big part of my photos. So with the HSL I use the color picker and I pick the zone I want to work on and then I just drag up and down on the hues if I want more green or more purple in my blues. So I do a few passes when I'm editing. This is kind of my first quick pass where I touch every setting until I get an idea of where I'm going. Usually at the get-go I'm not sure exactly where I want to go. No matter how many years you've spent editing I don't think you start every edit with whoa, yes this is my final vision. There's always an experimental process and the more you do it the quicker you become and the more consistent you are. You see I keep it pretty safe here, I'm not touching my hues a lot, but on my second and third passes I'll start getting a bit more aggressive. Now that I've done my HSL I can move on to my split toning. Usually here I'm looking to get my highlights a little cooler with more blue and my shadows a little warmer. As a rule of thumb and for this conditions actually works great, because I want this foreground and all the surrounding of the image to be warmer and then that middle section to be blue to kind of draw the eye in. And I achieve that with split toning usually. And you could do all this in the HSL panel, but I like to use both. Some people don't like that. I like to use both because it's a force of habit and I feel like I got a little more control using both. So I'm just trying my blues, how much saturation I want to put in them, and then my shadows and my oranges. How much saturation I want in them. So just experimental, there's no precise number I type in. I'm always tinkering. It's ever-changing. After that I move on to the sharpening. I kind of go in chronological order. So with my sharpening I use not a crazy amount, just about a third usual and then I'm moving to my masking because I don't wanna be sharpening noise. Like this is 800 ISO so it's not too bad, but with some more noisy images if you don't use the masking you're sharpening the noise as well which comes out more. And it's not like it's nice grain from the film camera. This is a traditional noise and it's not very flattering or looks good. So by masking it you tell Lightroom to avoid sharpening that noise. So my masking usually is about a third as well. So now the image is starting to take some shape and I move on to the camera calibration to work on my blues and my reds again. So a third tool to affect my main cause here. You could do everything with HSL speed tuning once again, but it's just a force of habit. I like to use it as well. And I like to use all three because it gives me like a second check. Like okay, I'm sure about this decision. There's a lot of uncertainty when it comes to editing images. So I go through all this extra steps, because I'm not in a rush and then it allows me to know that I'm making a good decision. And once that's done it's time for me to put the final touches and that means gradient filters and radial filters. I always begin with radial filter in the middle of the image and I draw it usually into my subject. That's usually in the middle and I go and just increase the sharpness around that subject. I do that because it's a subtle way to bring the focus of the viewer to my subject. I never go about 35, 40 in sharpness in the middle, because then it becomes a little too crazy and obvious. Now I'm happy with how it looks so I move on to my gradient filters. And for this image it works well if I darken the foreground even more to lead more into my subjects. So I draw like this gradient filter at the bottom of the image. I reset my filter and start fresh. To reset your filter it's pretty easy. Just double click on effect and I don't only use gradient filters for exposure adjustments or contrast. I also use the white balance a lot and I see that the wood is a little too purple so I bring some green in it. It also looks a little cool so I'm just gonna warm it up, but I'm seeing that it's making this weird color specks so I'm looking to go and kill all saturation on it, because it has not much color left in it anyways. With the gradient filters you want to be subtle with your settings because they become really obvious. If your image was naturally darker at the bottom, then it's a good opportunity to enhance that. So here it's that wood is sucking all the light, so I'm just gonna give it a notch under exposure just so that this darkness leads into my subject way better, that's shining there. Looking good. I like where this is going. So make sure the colors are right. Yeah, looking good, sharp and minimal noise. We've come a long way now so I'm gonna go see what the image was initially and what it is now. I love going back to the original image just to see what's going on, see what I've changed, see if it's become completely crazy or is it still true to the original capture. I'm knocking it way better like this, because it's a little cooler and it has more emotion in it. That's the way I saw this image. It wasn't this crazy glowing sunset that we hoped for and on the edit to show that. Good, it's almost finished. The filters replaced, the image is almost finished. Now I can move into Photoshop and you do that just right click on the image, edit in Adobe Photoshop. So now I'm in Photoshop and what I always do first is crop. I do make crop for Instagram or Facebook or what-have-you and it's usually five four portrait or five four wide. And I do that format because it works the best for either mobile phones or screens. On my website I usually have the image in its camera ratio, which is three two. And for this image because it's so centered and geometrical I want to make sure it's bang on in the center. So I draw my rulers with Photoshop from left to right. Make sure I'm aligned. Little tip to bring out the rulers in Photoshop, Command + R on a Mac, Control + R on a PC, and then you just drag from the ruler to where do you want to have it in the image. Okay so now my image is centered and I want to move on to my curves and I love using the curves in Photoshop, because they're way more powerful. The reason is that you can do your curves and then they're put on a layer and that layer we can change its opacity to the percent that you want. So you can do pretty subtle adjustments. So here I'm gonna put the opacity of the layer at 4% and then I can be very incremental with my changes, which is way more control than Lightroom will ever give me. So if you hesitant, try to finish your photos in Photoshop. You'll see how much better they become. Then I usually do some cleanup. I duplicate my base layer doing Command + J or Control + J just so I can have a way to go back if I mess up something. I'm not messing up my first layer, but I just have a second one to work with. And sometimes it'll bring my levels out just to get a bit more fade after the curves. Not always, but for this one I think it works well. And you always want to take your blacks on a white canvas and then on a dark canvas. So same as Lightroom here in Photoshop, I have my canvas set as white. My full screen canvas is set as white. Because on most places where I post photos, it's on a white background so it just makes sense for that. If I'm editing for print it's not as important, but for this it's just perfect. Ad even at this stage I'm still refining my image, playing with the opacity of the layers. It's a very refined exercise. I love it and I want to show you that every decision can always be second checked by the end. You don't have to commit 100% what you did before. My last step here I resize usually for using on the Internet. For Instagram and Facebook I use 4000 wide always or 4000 for my longest dimension. So if it's a portrait 4000 high, if it's a wide 4000 wide. Now the last step here is my profiles. My color profiles and it's super important, because most browsers and phones work on SRGB and everything here was in Adobe RGB. From the camera that's in Adobe RGB to Lightroom to Photoshop. So there's two ways to do this. One proper and one not proper. I'll show you both. The proper way is to do edit, convert profile, and then it uses Photoshop algorithm to make all the other colors match what they should be in SRGB. And if you do assign profile you're just forcing a profile on you Adobe RGB without any conversion and that's gonna give you this weird flat colors you're gonna see now. So this is not the proper way always use convert to profile. And I'd really step all the time. I convert to SRGB if I'm gonna use it on the web or on the phone. If it's for prints, I'll keep it on Adobe RGB, because most printers work with that. Then once I think the image is really, really finished Lightroom, Photoshop, done, I hit Command + Save and it goes back into Lightroom as a TIFF file. So here we are. This is my before and this is my after. I'm happy with the results. That's it. that's how I did this image.