Category Archives: post processing

April 2014 – New York Post processing

I have included some low res test shots right out of camera for you to see.

The sunrise in central park requires a dynamic range I simply could not get with a single shot.

I like the composition of the tower with the rock and trees in the foreground less at sunrise then I did the previous night and the sun rose much further north than I had expected so the light cast hard shadows in places that I was hoping would be highlighted.

As a result the one shot this month that I will concentrate on is the trees backlit by the sun.

I also go some great shots from the rooftop observatory which we planned very much to be there for sunset and were greeted with almost perfect conditions, so this project has payed huge dividends already for me.

Careful planning and setup is key to getting it right in camera, and I will only need to do some exposure blending and sharpening to get the final products I am looking for for these pictures.

It is nice not to have to rely on software to get a good image. I’ll say that a different way. Get it right in camera and let the software do softwarelike stuff (ie. Panorama stitching – dust removal etc.)

Hope you enjoy these sample images.

I hope to post the final product this week.



April 2014 – 911 memorial

New york city has been an emotional trip for me.  Nerve wracking, frustrating, joyfilled and sadening.  Mostly sadening.  
The 9/11 memorial was a much more sobering experience than I had anticipated.  I expected the magnitude of it and the excitement of the one world trade center freedom tower to keep me removed from the tragedy of it.    I was wrong.
I still remember where my 18 year old self was standing watchinging helplessly as the second plane flew toward the towers.  Now I am not American…never have been, but at the time I could tell something was happening that would change all of north america and probably the world.  I remember feeling alone and also feeling instantly connected to everyone around me, particularly my friends from the U S that I had just met for the first time 7 days earlier. 
Those emotions returned as I stood by the pools where the towers once stood as I walked slowly reading name after name and trying to image the faces of countless people I had never met.
Some had been carefully wiped clear after the early morning rain others were adorned with white roses and still others held the attention of passersby.   At first I didn’t want to photograph names I stuck to photographing titles like “engine 40” and “world trade center”, but the more I tried to frame shots around these words the more I realized I was trying to remove myself from what happened.   The more pictures I took the more certain names stuck out aided by the shallow depth of field I was using. 
One name grabbed me and held me for a long time Sara M Clark a single rose sat in the center of her name held by the relief of the carved metal.  The contrast of near black finish and white rose was an image too strong to be ignored.  At first I didn’t take any pictures I just stared trying to absorb the weight of what I was seeing visually and emotionally.  I wanted to experience to feel not just document as so many of the visitors seemed content to do.  Don’t get me wrong I documented a number of scenes at groubd zero to take home to share with my family but in this moment I held back.  Contemplating and absorbing as much as I could.  I cried.  I tried to hide it to choke it back but my eyes filled with water.  I turned away to see a young girl being comforted by friends as she sobbed uncontrollably.   I cried some more.  Not uncontrolled tears of grief but tears of genuine sadness of remorse of anger.
I tried to capture the simplicity and contrast as best I could.  The cold lifeless metal and the beautiful rose.   The irony that the monument would stand long after the rose faded and turned to dust.  The black shiny metal and the soft rose.  And the name etched there in history a face unknown to me but loved by someone yet a monument to all.

sara clark
I was going to write about more of the sad experiences I had in nyc becuase I think the experience has changed me but now is not the time. 
I mean no disrespect to the family, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that her name impacted me so deeply.

Feb 2014 – When it happens…it happens

I’m happy with it.  I didn’t burn down my house.

I was thinking man I’d like the ice to be in focus more, but then I realized my face had to be back from the flames and if I had to choose a focal plane my face in focus is the best option.  Plus then the ice and fire are an accent to the portrait.

I like how the black matte painted peg board worked for the backdrop.  A larger softbox would have made a more dramatic backlight effect, but man I got all this in camera and with fire you only really get one shot to nail it.

Post processing consisted of a slight white balance correction (the flames really made this one quite a bit orange) and a slight boost in clarity and I recovered the whites of the ice a little bit.


This was shot with a self timer and I had to guess where I would be in the frame… yeah… yeah it did!

I’m happy.  I hope you are inspired – now go try this (safely) and share your results.


January 2014 – One done


I can’t say I’d use exactly the same post process, but I made it my goal this year to share it with all of you and so here it is.

Here is Picasa’s interpretation of the image


I want to make it perfectly clear that shooting in raw is a must, while the camera does a much better job of processing the image than picasa, the flexibility of the workflow when you start with RAW is staggering compared to any JPG editing, not to mention applying compression prior to editing seems counter productive (at 36 megapixels no one can tell, but my technical sense suggests at some point it can/will make a difference)

I am not here to start a whole shoot jpeg shoot raw debate, but if you are moving to digital post production the raw image is as close to a negative as you can get.

For those of you who are here to see the final product you can go ahead and skip the mumbo jumbo.  Just do it – skip to the pretty picture at the end!

For those who want the rundown on how the above turned into the below please read here:

1.  Graduated ND filters in camera raw

I applied 2 grad ND filters and reduced the exposure about 0.3 EV from the left and from the bottom right.

This helps balance some of the light in the shot and helps to reduce the area of overexposure

2.  Highlights

The highlights in the cross are quite overblown.  I chose this image of the set to edit first due to this.  I wanted to see how distracting the white hole in the center of the image would be.  I have to admit it pulls quite a bit of focus and attention.

3.  Exposure adjustment

I dropped the exposure by 0.2.  That is all – in camera exposure is the best

4.  WB – White Balance

Balance the whites.  I noticed the image tended towards the blue so I cut the blue channel a bit in favor of the yellow, this had the effect of making the image more inviting without reducing contrast or the rich red tones in the wine highlights

5.  Sharpen all the way off

I always remove image sharpening at this stage.  This is one area where the camera does a much better job than software.  In any case I turn it off for now, we will sharpen later…and the new CC filter for smart sharpen in photoshop is pretty excellent

6.  Cross cloning

I added a bit of length to the lower leg of the cross.  Nothing to fancy just a simply clone and blend using layer masks

7.  Apply warming filter

8. Boost contrast

I added a second layer with an aggressive gausian blur and applied it as overlay reducing opacity and fill until desired level of contrast achieved.  Then I masked out the wine glass.  I’ll want the extra sharpness and clarity later.

9.  Boost brightness

Wine only

10.  Shadows/Highlights

I love the look of these adjustments on almost any picture.  Adding midtone contrast is a great way to make the image pop without adding too much clarity slider

11.  Flatten image

12.  Sharpen

Unsharp or smart sharpen.  Both work well depends on your needs.  I used smart sharpen lens blur.


There you have it.  One – not quite print worthy photo – planned setup shot edited and published in 30 days.

light and shadow

January 2014 – Let the post processing begin!

Lets get ready to rumble.

Now it is too late to fix anything “in camera”  It is too late to setup and shoot again.  It is too late to scrap this idea and do something else entirely.  It is time to buckle down and edit now.

I expect there to be very little post.  I am pretty happy with the way things look in camera.  Maybe a touch of crop maybe some white balance and maybe a tiny little bit of contrast and brightness enhancements, but I am super happy with the way things went today.

You can see here.


Comments always welcome…as long as they are on topic.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S.  Here is a sneak peak of what the setup looked like for this shot.  There was a spot LED mounted behind the backdrop as well as a flash with the same cardboard cross cutout to cast a bright light.


I even kind of like that picture.