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CS2 Post Processing...HELLooooo

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by beaucamera, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. I've just started using CS2. While I really lke it especailly for RAW files, my work flow has suddenly become very confused. I'd love to have help from the rest of you. I don't have NC so that has never been part of what I do. In the past I've started with Nikon Browser/View for image screening, then moved images into PS. With the new Bridge version of CS2, I'm not sure the Nikon software has any value as a first step in processing other than from downloading original image data.

    Have any of the rest of you discoverd this too? Any recommendtions?

    aka beaucamera
  2. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    Agree 100%. I've never found Nikon View or Picture Project to be a useful part of my workflow.
  3. Cory Cooper

    Cory Cooper

    May 24, 2005
    Salem, NH
    I agree, but some swear by Capture. There are many alteratives out there including PS Camera RAW. Bibble, Capture One, etc.

    I am really happy with Camera RAW myself. I used Bibble for years, but then CR matured and is very good.

  4. twig


    May 23, 2005
    I have never had much luck with the Nikon apps.
    I use a free app called ICopy to transfer my files, then RawShooter to process the NEF's before I get into CS2, I find it much easier.
  5. I use Rawshooter too, and like it a lot. After I make adjustments with RS, I don't find much use for PS except for cropping and resizing.

    Twig, I would be interested to know what sort of adjustments you make in PS after converting to jpeg with RS.
  6. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi virginia-

    my workflow is probably clumsy, but it works for me. i copy my files from the card to my hard drive using explorer. i convert my NEF's to jpegs using the batch feature of capture. i view the jpegs using the windows browser, and edit the good ones with photoshop.

    i don't have time constaints, which is probably why my workflow works for me.

  7. twig


    May 23, 2005
    Well, in RawShooter I constrain sharpening to 0, which is not really none (as -50 is non), but I find 0 is enough to counteract the AA filter (probably more than that), I often do Auto Exposure because it is usually great for my tastes, though I then often tweak the exposure comp a little. I almost nevver use Auto WB as I find in camera WB from the D2h pretty darn great, htough I don;t shoot in crazy mixed lighting much.
    More and more lately I find myself boosting Saturation to +20 with many of my d2h photos.

    Then in photoshop I will first apply PT Lens on a layer to correct any distortion issues. This occured most often wit h my old kit lens, though the 17-055 likes it when used from 17-23 and from 45-55. I don;t tend to use it wit hthe 70-200 and though the Sigma 12-24 is pretty amazing on it;s own, once corrected it rocks.

    I may clone or healing brush some dust removal or fix some major blemishes if a portrait. Cropping occurs at this stage, because next I am going to play with highlights and I don't care about those in cropped regions.

    First up is level adjustment on a new layer. Hold down the alt key to see what is clipping whne you move the low and top sliders. I usually move them into a point where there is no clipping in my main subject, but I will allow clipping in other things. You would be surprised how much life moving the black point form 0-10 and the white from 255 to 245 imparts on the image. However, you are using the actual clipping to adjust this on a per image basis.

    Levels turns this:

    Into this:

    Then I use some tonality tuning actions form Outback Photo, to do things like, soften highlights, raise midtone contrast, etc. These use masks as part of the action, and are pretty good, though usually overkill after the levels adjustment. Sometimes, however, I may use them and then edit the mask and have the effect only the sky for example.

    Another alternative to tonality tuning is to apply a curves layer with a gentle s curve, this adds a lot of pop to images, but often can make things look almost too 3-D and super saturated after the levels adjustment.

    I also sometimes do selective color layers, and edit whites to make them more blue if my skys are too boring.

    For portraits I will often apply noise reduction to smooth out facial blemishes with a surface mask to resticts it to surfaces only.

    Finally I use EasyS, a sharpening action form Outback to final sharpen my images to taste. IT uses a great masking system and has a halo control to avoid black and white sharpening halos, good stuff.

    If you want a quick education on photoshop, using layers and masks, and some of the thigns I did above, I learned it from the DOP2000 Workflow Guide that Digital Outback sells, it is really good. It goes through about 12 examples, with a companion workbook that has a dozen more.

    This is the workflow I have hodge podged through reading forums and experimentation, but I would not call myself a photoshop master by any means, so take everything with a grain of salt.
  8. Wow. :shock:
  9. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I think Bridge is a big improvement over the CS File Browser in both performance and stability. I frequently had problems with the CS File Browser "losing" image preview cache for folders, but with the option to autmatically use folder-based caching I haven't had that problem with Bridge yet. The Bridge can actually be a pretty decent browser once you let it build image preview cache for a folder. After that the previews show pretty quickly and the different layouts are also useful. My only complaints are that the Apply Camera RAW Settings dialog is gone now, and some of the commands that were previously available on the right-click menu are buried in the Tools or Edit menus now (though I have to confess I haven't investigated whether I can configure this).

    My workflow is roughly like this:

    1) Use Breeze Downloader Pro to download NEF's to the hard drive.

    2) Let Bridge build the preview cache while I go do something else

    3) Use either the Slideshow or the "filmstrip focus" to cull images by giving the ones that might be keepers or at least worth a second look one or more stars (shortcut key makes this easy and fast).

    4) Filter to the view to only show the images with at least a one-star rating.

    5) Apply any batch RAW settings that I might one to apply to all or groups of images (primarily white balance and calibration settings).

    6) Now open the images in Camera RAW. Depending on how many many there are I may open them all at once, or I may open groups of related images, etc. At this point I'm adjusting the RAW settings as necessary: Exposure, Shadows, Contrast, etc. Starting with ACR 3 I also may do some initial cropping here. I don't actually save PSD's at this point, I just use the "Done" button to save the RAW settings to the sidecare files.

    7) After getting a closer look at the images I may have decided that some aren't keepers after all. For those images I'll remove their star rating so they no longer show up in the filtered view.

    8 ) At this point I'll either generate screen-sized JPG proofs to send off for evaluation (say if it was a portrait session of my friend's kid) or save 16-bit PSD's that are ready for post-processing.

    9) As for actual post-processing, I've found that the better I get with Camera RAW, the less I find myself needing to do in Photoshop proper. I almost never have to mess around with color balance, levels, etc. My initial post-processing step is sharpening, since I have ACR configured to only sharpen previews and not apply any sharpening to the converted image. Of course if needed noise reduction will come before sharpening. After that I may need to do a bit of cloning/healing, or maybe soften skin tones, etc. Usually the finishing touch is local contrast enhancement, ie large-radius USM. I prefer this approach to using a more agressive tone-curve during raw conversion because it gives me more control and doesn't seem to hurt shadow detail as much (and if it does I can easily fix that with the history brush).

    10) At this point I have my "finished" PSD's, which are used for printing. I'll also run a batch action to generate web-sized JPG's for uploading to PBase.

    Well, that may sound like a long complicated workflow, but it's really pretty streamlined IMHO. I think it took longer to write about it than it does to actually do it. :)  A lot of this may seem familiar to people who have read Bruce Fraser's book Real World Camera RAW since my workflow is based in large part on his, abeit adapter for CS2 and my needs. I'll be interested to see what the CS2 version of his book adds.
  10. Henk

    Henk Guest

    Basically, all RAW converters work quite well, think I tested about all mentioned here. I found that Nikon Capture gives the most accurate colors, but I admit there's a lot to do for the programmers on the interface and speed. For me, image quality is mandatory so I regulary batch convert overnight if there's a lot of images to process ;-)

    Best regards,

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