Saturday, May 21, 2011

Post-processing Magic

I was recently asked on dpreview's Pentax SLR forum what kind of post-processing I performed to obtain the following image:

The original RAW file looked in fact, rather bad.  I had purposely under-exposed it to avoid blowing highlights, knowing it wouldn't be much a problem given the Pentax K5's incredible dynamic range.  This is how the original RAW shot looked like:

So as promised, here is a step-by-step description of the exact steps I performed obtain the first image from the image just above.
I use Lightroom 3 (3.4 to be accurate) exclusively to do all of my post-processing. Since I run the Linux operating system and Lightroom doesn't exist for Linux, I have no other choice but run Windows XP through a PC emulator.  In my case, I use Virtualbox as it's free and much lighter than VMWare.
Thus, do not worry if you see the main window below saying "Windows XP...", it's just because Windows XP runs inside a Linux window. Anyway, it should be irrelevant to what's following ;)
1. I always shoot RAW, so the first step is to import the image into Lightroom. Here you can see the original image. I underexposed it on purpose as I know I can easily recover it with little noise even in the dark areas, thanks to the K5's incredible DR :)

2. I usually start by cropping the image to my liking

3. Here I used the Split Toning tool to add a yellow and magenta cast

4. Then I adjusted the temperature and tint to obtain a more green cast

5. Now I tweaked the fill light, recovery, black, contrast and brightness to lift up the shadow and give the image its final exposure

6. Next I decreased vibrance and saturation

7. Then I tweaked the contrast curve a little bit

8. I also tweaked a little bit the hue and saturation values to make it very slightly less greenish

9. I decided to add a bit of vignetting in order to make the subject stand out

10. Finally, I noticed that the "Embedded" profile gave a better tonality than the Adobe one (I actually found this by accident!)

Here it is, you have exactly all the steps I did.
Quite a difference between the RAW and final image, isn'it ? 
I hope it was helpful!

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