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Some Sanibel Shots....With PP Steps

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Flew, Oct 14, 2005.

  1. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    A couple of days ago, I posted a couple of shots from the Ron Reznick session that I attended at Sanibel Island in SW Florida last year, as a lure to get Gordon L to try out this great spot on his trip South in a couple of weeks. When I looked at my shots from this session, I was amazed at how bad the post processing was. I have learned so much in the intervening 9 months that I decided to try reprocessing a few of the shots. Here are some samples.

    Yellow Crowned Night Heron:







    Thanks for stopping by.

    Added Note: A couple of folks asked about my processing steps. I am a Ron Reznick disciple, and I use the techniques that I learned from him in NC (v4.3 right now), but I don't follow his process strictly on every shot (sometimes I get lazy :rolleyes: ). To start off, I shoot in compressed RAW, with basic JPG. I set the WB in K (which means that I miss sometimes, but that can be fixed if necessary in Capture). I set the Tone Compensation to low, and rarely adjust higher in PP (if I do adjust it, I almost never go above Medium Low). I try, but don't always succeed, to under expose by about 1/3 stops to hold the highlights when my targets have patches of white and the lighting is bright. I always use manual exposures as I find that I get more consistent results. I also shoot in Adobe RGB.

    Here's what I do on almost every shot in NC:

    1) Load my default settings (similar to Ron's, but much lighter on the USM because of the FM plug-ins that I use in PS CS are almost too effective. If I use Ron's settings, the end result is oversharpened on many shots). My USM settings are 22, 4, 4. I've discussed this with Ron, and he agrees that his are a good starting point, but not necessarily optimum for everyone and every shot.

    2) Adjust WB if I miss set it when I was shooting.

    3) Adjust the exposure comp

    4) Adjust the gamma using the Curves tool. Usually keep it on the low side, but will go higher if the shot calls for it. I'm usually between 1.02 and 1.08, but occasionally will go as high as 1.20.

    5) Adjust the color saturation using the Color Booster tool using the Nature option, with a setting of 2 - 4.

    When I think that I'm done, I click and hold the 'Show Original Image Data' tool, and then release it several times to make sure that I haven't done more harm than good with my settings. If I have overdone something, I'll back off of the EV comp, gamma, color boost, or whatever until I'm happy.

    This results in a shot that is on the soft side from a sharpening standpoint because, as I mentioned earlier, I use some FM plug-ins in PS CS that are pretty aggressive with sharpening. I save the final image as a 16-bit TIFF, in Adobe RGB.

    I have several actions that I've written in PS CS that I use to finish the image. The first does most of the work and includes the following steps:

    (Note that if necessary, I crop the image first.)

    1) Shadows / highlights - This tool can be great or terrible. In most cases, I just set it to 0, 0 but occasionally I use settings in the 4, 16 range.

    2) Saturation - Usually set this one to 0 also, but if the light was really flat, I may go up to 4 on the Saturation setting.

    3) FM Resize Pro - I have a saved setting that I use that makes the width 900 pixels (for landscape orientation) by 600 pixels high. Depending on the crop the height might end up being more or less. If the crop is portrait, then the width will be less than 900 pixels, but in either case, I keep the height to less than 700 pixels. I use Interpolation Level 3, select the Reduce Color Noise option, and select Low or High ISO depending on the ISO of the shot. The sizing method is 'Set Image Size'.

    4) FM Intellisharpen II - The FM Resize Pro does sharpen the image, so additional sharpening is usually very minimal. I use an Intensity of 22, with a sharpen detail level of 50 (which isn't used for high ISO images). I select 0% Halo and the Reduce Color Noise options, but not the Levels and Sharpening Tweak. When it completes its work, I usually use the Intensity Tweak slider to reduce the overall effect to between 0 and the mid 20's. It is my opinion that many images posted on the net are over sharpened, so I do my best to err on the under side (not always successful of course :rolleyes: ).

    5) Levels - I start with a default of 0, 1.08, 248 and adjust as needed. I usually end up with a sort of low contrast image as the next step after this action is done fixes that.

    6) Adds my sig.

    After running this action, I almost always run another action that does a USM pass for contrast. My default settings are 44, 6, 0 but I adjust the intensity up or down based on the needs of the image. I really like this step which I learned a couple of months ago here on the Cafe.

    I then run one of two matting actions, usually putting a 40 pixel per side mat around the image, and then run one of two framing actions, usually putting on a 22 pixel frame.

    Save the results to highest quality (12) .jpg.

    That's it. Hope this helps. If anyone is interested in the actions, I'd be more than happy to share. :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2005
  2. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    Gorgeous work Frank, just outstanding they wanna jump right out of my Monitor.
    I have been reading Ron's book (rereading again and again). Hope to take a class someday soon myself.
    Man these are nice !!!
  3. Derek


    May 1, 2005
    Awesome Shots
  4. Frank these are so wonderful, I would love a primer of your workflow ( I have done RR's class)
  5. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Thanks guys.

    Andreas, I'd be happy to put something together when I get back from shooting this morning. Just as a quick overview, I basically use Ron's process in NC, then go through a simple PS CS process flow. I would characterize my process as 'conservative'.
  6. Callie

    Callie Guest

    Hi Frank
    Long John Silver is great, the details sharp and the snowy is beautiful, both great pics. I am a self taught PSCS so would like to know what you did, especially the snowy's wings look lovely.
    Have a land line, very slow, so saw the rest second time round. :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2005
  7. Magnificent! Beautiful!
  8. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    I've added the PP steps that I used to the original post as requested. :smile:
  9. Most interesting Frank, although I tend to believe that there are NO standards on PP, you technique sequence seems very “safe” when used with thrift.
  10. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Thanks Panos. I probably spend way too much time with my PP, but I like to tweak , tweak, tweak. :tongue:

    I have been very happy with the results though. :smile:
  11. I'm thinking of starting CAPP (Creative & Artistic PP) that means to "introduce" elements that were NOT in the original shot... :wink:
  12. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    print it up
    thanks Frank
  13. Thanks so much Frank for the detailed workflow, I will study it carefully. I have been very frustrated that my online shots are so un-sharp, when they look great on my monitor!

    BTW as I told you in the prvate message this Is written at 33,000 feet over Calgary, SAS has Wireless internet access on the plane!
  14. Wow

    These are super! Detail is astounding.
  15. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Thanks guys.

    Andreas, I had the exact frustration. I looked at Yves' and Mike Mac's web postings and just knew that mine could be better. I studied every good looking shot that I could find, bought PS CS (finally) and got the FM plug-ins, and started learning how to get the most out of them. I would say that the biggest improvement (other than getting PS CS) came from comments by Yves where he recommended saving files for the web in the size that I was going to post. This made a huge difference.

    Ron, I've just looked at your shots of the deer and woodpecker, and I'd have to say that these are not a bit better. I think you have the process down pat. :smile:
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