Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Understand post-processing means, part of Introduction to Photography: Lightroom and Photoshop.
- These days, people seem to use the word Photoshop as a verb as often as they use it as the name of a piece of image editing software that's been around for more than 25 years. When people talk about photoshopping an image, they usually mean altering it somehow, painting in details, taking something out, or performing the type of manipulation effects that are used in fashion magazines. All of these tasks can be accomplished with digital post-production tools like Lightroom and Photoshop as well as many other tools, but post-production encompasses many more tasks besides retouching and special effects.
A full post-production workflow has many necessary steps, and they need to be followed in a particular order, both to create an efficient process and to ensure that you preserve the best image quality. Here's what you'll do in a typical post-production workflow. Step one, import images from your camera. As you shoot, your camera writes images to its storage card. But before you can do anything with those images, you have to move them to your computer. That may sound like an obvious thing to say, but this step involves some fairly critical decision making because before you can import, you have to know where you want to put the images.
And that means you have to have some kind of organizational scheme in mind for your images. Step two, make your selects. Hopefully by now, you already understand that getting a good photograph is a game of numbers. It's a skilled game. You can't just shoot randomly. But you have to shoot a lot as you refine, discover, and work your way to the keeper images. In the old days, editing your images meant sorting through them to edit out the ones you didn't like. That's what we do in this step, find the images that are the keepers which we will then pass on to the rest of our workflow.
We typically do this by giving them ratings. Step three, keyword your images. Keywords are simply words or tags that you add to your images. As your image library grows, keywords can be a critical component to staying organized. You can actually keyword during any part of your workflow, but I like to get it out of the way early because if I don't, I tend not to do it. I kind of use the rest of the workflow as a reward for doing keywording. Step four, adjust and correct your images. This is the stage that people typically consider photoshopping.
Some of what you'll do here is basic contrast and color correction, but this step also encompasses all the stuff that people consider photoshopping. This step actually has a workflow of its own because to get the best results and preserve image quality, it's important to do your adjusting and correcting steps in a particular order. We'll get to those later. Step five, save your image. Now technically, you could consider this part of the last step, but saving can be complicated. There are different formats to consider. Saving works differently in different applications.
In some, you actually don't have to save at all. And I'm considering the concept of creating multiple versions of an image as being part of the saving discussion, so I've pulled saving out into its own step here. Step six, output your image. This could be as a print or to a webpage or as a file that you give to someone else, or it could even be all of the above. Step seven, backup. The drive your images are saved on is going to fail at some point. That is not conjecture. It is a fact.
It is only a matter of time before it fails, and it's very difficult to predict the timeframe we're talking about. But there is absolutely no need to try to predict that or worry about it because if you backup your images, it just doesn't matter if your drive fails. And finally, step eight, take the rest of the day off. Post-production can be time-consuming. I am still sometimes surprised at how long it takes me to process all of the images from a shoot. Sometimes it takes days. And I know what I'm doing, and I have speedy gear. It's simply a lot of work. That means it's especially important to have a good process.
Understanding workflow, learning it, following it, refining it for your particular needs. This will keep you from venturing down dead ends, from wasting time unnecessarily, from getting frustrated. That's why we created this course.
Where to begin learning tools like these? Right here. In this course, photographer, author, and educator Ben Long introduces the concepts and creative options behind photographic post-processing. From fixing problems to retouching, Ben shows how to do it, without overdoing it, with Lightroom, Photoshop, and the Adobe mobile apps.
- Importing and organizing images in Lightroom
- Rating images in Lightroom
- Adjusting images in Lightroom
- Retouching in Photoshop
- Making pixel-level edits in Photoshop
- Syncing and editing images in Lightroom mobile