I try not to do much postproduction as I don’t get much time after a shoot, so I do what I can to get the shot as close as possible to the way I want it at the time I take the picture. However, almost always, there are things for which software is needed.
I actually really like in- camera raw-processing facilities that allow me to skip the software stage, but not many cameras have a processing ability that is extensive enough for this. Fujifilm X-series models have decent processing features and those in the Lumix cameras are excellent.
I always shoot in raw to allow myself the best starting position, and I usually use Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop or Phase One’s Capture One Pro.
1 Lift tones
If I am generally happy with my exposure, the first thing I do is deal with the mid-tone contrast using the Curves tool. For a shot like this, I’ll pull down the shadows and lift the lighter tones to emphasise the difference between the sunshine and the shade.
2 Adjust contrast
Next, I deal with other more subtle tools for increasing mid-tone contrast – the Highlights and Shadows sliders. I often use the Clarity slider to help with the process, but almost always draw the Contrast slider down so the contrast doesn’t look crude.
3 Boost colours
Colour is important here, so I’ve added a touch of Vibrance and a bit of Saturation – but not too much of either as Curves has already lifted the colour. I’ve also tweaked the colour temperature by a few degrees to warm the late-afternoon light.
All images need a bit of sharpening and the way you apply that sharpening depends on the noise, detail and base sharpness of the picture. This one is fine grained, so I set the Radius low and increase the Amount. I rarely use Noise Reduction and rather enjoy a bit of texture.
5 Clean up
I usually shoot at a wide aperture so dust spots tend not to show. As this was shot on a very bright day, I used an aperture of f/6.3 – so there’s a visible dust spot in the sky. To remove this I’ve used the Healing Brush in Photoshop, but I’ll often use the standard Cloning tool.
I save images at their largest size and with as little compression as possible. For Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, I’ll resize to 1,920 pixels on the longest edge to reduce the size. I also use JPEGmini Pro by Beamr Imaging to make file sizes as small as possible for my phone.