Workflow problems

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  • I can only speak for myself but seldom am I totally happy with the fruits of my labours after I've finished processing digital files.

    My early efforts were limited to JPEGs until I discovered that there actually is an advantage to shooting RAW as it records a lot more detail in shadow and highlight areas than JPEG does.

    I've got a couple of processing suites (Nikon Capture NX and Photoshop CS3) but still I'm seldom happy with what I can produce with them. At this point I'll reiterate that I'm the one who can't use the PP suites and that there's nothing wrong with either piece of software.

    The problem, I think, is that I don't have a reliable routine. Many of the functions in both pieces of software (at least the immediately obvious ones that I tend to use) are pretty straightforward.

    Taking CS3 as an example, the first thing that happens when I load up a file is that it chucks it into the RAW conversion process. At this point I go down the sliders (in order), tweaking / re-tweaking them until I feel that it looks pretty much okay. Then I 'open' the file.

    At that point, I then have a play with the colour, saturation, curves, brightness / contrast and other 'obvious' tools to marginally improve the original conversion. Most of the time I'm reasonably happy with the outcome but there are times I run out of steam and post it anyway. I have NEVER used "layers" as I don't know how to.

    Do others Trekkers have similar problems? Is there a 'tried and tested' routine that gets the job done more methodically?

  • Re: Workflow problems
    Hi Paul,
    thank you for starting this thread, I am also in need of some good advice in this domain, although I am only using a compact for the moment:-) and Photoshop Elements 5. I have CS3 on trial for 2 more weeks. From some hints I received I think that the order of the PP work is very important, it seems to me that what you mention above (colour, saturation etc) is correct. But for the rest ?
    I am starting to use layers, minimalistically, e.g. to put the sky only through Neatimage or a too dark/too light zone of the pic through less/more light or so.

    So waiting eagerly for the responses...:-)
  • Re: Workflow problems
    Lighroom doesn't have any layers, I thought that was a missing feature, finally I can cope with that ... This simplies my workflow ...
  • Re: Workflow problems
    Hi everyone,

    Photoshop is not something that you can just purchase and become a whiz at by any means. I remember when I first started using it- everything felt so complicated and it was bewildering.
    I owe the majority of my current know how to books and magazines. Most digital magazines offer great tutorials both in the magazines and usually in the accompanying CD's, in both PDF and video format.
    Although I wish you the best of luck in trying to find some answers here... I personally think you'll have much more success in stopping by your local book store and picking up one of Scott Kelby's Photoshop Books such as "The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers". Whichever you decide on- just make sure you get the correct one for your version of Photoshop. Scott's books are REALLY easy to follow, and won't leave you scratching your head trying to figure out what's going on.

    Best of luck,
    - Dan
  • Re: Workflow problems
    Dan, that is already some good help! There is such a variety of books that choosing can be a bit difficult too:-) I would enjoy a tutorial approach, easy to understand:-) Thank you.
  • Re: Workflow problems
    i learnt photoshop by books too, step by step, it tooks a long time and i still learn after 2 years.
  • Re: Workflow problems
    Thanks guys.

    Sadly, I'm the sort of bloke who forgets that one is supposed to 'dip' one foot at a time! Patience is not one of my virtues (actually, I'm struggling to think of any actual virtues I can claim to possess...). I digress.

    Christmas is a-coming and, despite being a confirmed nontheist, I shall ask Father Christmas for a guide (with pictures) on how to generraly mess round with RAW files in CS£ and have them come out better than they went in.

    In the meantime, normal - somewhat haphazard - service will resume.

  • Re: Workflow problems
    Hi Paul

    I,like you,started with jpeg's only as I could not see the benefit of saving huge RAW files. I have since seen the light and now I shoot nothing but RAW. In Elements no matter how much you alter the RAW file you can always click on "camera default" and you get your original file back as shot. There are macros that can be established in CS3 so that you can process multiple images for things like resizing and sharpening but I prefer one at a time. As for layers it is one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop and I use them when trying to create something unique like a Michael Orton effect( see my Dreamscape shot under Dyerco) but I don't generally use them much for the images that I post on TE. The long and short is that PP requires a fair bit of time and all professionals I have spoken to say that they do not like spending time at the computer therefore they prefer to get as right as possible in the camera.
  • Re: Workflow problems
    Hi Paul,

    One of the problems is that PhotoShop allows you to fiddle forever. If you step back for a moment, the goal is really to figure out what you are looking for in advance, then gradually learn what tools will get you there. If you don't know what you are trying to achieve before loading the image into the software suite, you'll never get what you want. Endless experimentation is in my experience not a rewarding endeavor. What tends to work better is looking at a scene through the viewfinder and imagining what colors I want to emphasize, or what crop will work. Post-processing then becomes much easier.

    Taking another step back, what works best for me is if I have a rough idea of my goals before I even start out on a trip somewhere. Naturally you have to be flexible, but you need to treat PhotoShop and all the other tools as a means to get you to a predetermined point, rather than a means of experimenting. When you get to that stage your workflow will be much more rewarding.


  • Re: Workflow problems
    Ron, I couldn't agree more.

    To be honest, I will probably never use 90% of what CS3 has to offer. I've got to the point where I'm comfortable with the exposure, shadow and highlight, curves, hue/saturation, brightnes and contrast, smart sharpen, channel mixer and a few other 'basic' functions.

    My shoots are now better planned than ever and, at the moment, I'm doing 80% B&W fillm with the Leica M6 and 20% with the D200. That will change - but it's amazing to see what can be done with CS3 when it comes to scanned film.

    There'll never be a substitute for seeing a silver print coming up out of the developing tray - but I've been extremely pleased with what I've been able to achieve with CS3 in the last couple of weeks.

    Best wishes, Paul.