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Post-Processing Tips for Beginners

Post-Processing Tips for Beginners

Photography post processing opens up big potential for transforming an image, whether that's to make it just as vivid as you remember or something that defies the laws of gravity. Building an understanding of post processing techniques allows even beginners to learn concepts that can be applied to any image. These fundamental photography post- processing techniques will give you the tools to hone your craft in Photoshop, Lightroom and other photo editing programs.

Adjust Exposure in Photoshop and Lightroom

Adjusting exposure lightens or darkens an image. Exposure in Photoshop and Lightroom means the same thing as it does in the camera- how light or dark the image is. While it’s always best to get the exposure as close as possible in camera, post processing techniques make it possible to perfect that exposure on your laptop, especially if you shoot in RAW. In Lightroom, exposure adjustment is one of the first sliders you see in the Develop module. Dragging the slider lightens and darkens the image. Below that slider, individual exposure sliders adjust for the lighter or darker portions of the image. In Photoshop, select "Image" from the top panel, then adjustments and exposure brings up similar options.

Apply Curves

Adjusting curves creates, or reduces, contrast by controlling each tone range individually. Curves allows you to fine-tune your exposure by separating the light levels in an image. The exposure option adjusts the entire image at once. While Lightroom’s individual sliders in the basic panel allow for more control, curves adjust lights, darks and middle tone pixels individually. Curves are adjusted either through individual sliders or a graphical representation. Adjusting the curves creates contrast, or reduces contrast, if you’re aiming for a more muted look. Making the darks darker and the lights lighter helps the color ranges to really pop, because it increases the difference between those tones. Curves can be adjusted through the sliders or curves graph in Lightroom, or in Photoshop, under Image > Adjustments > Curves.

Post-Processing Tips for Beginners

Sharpen Image Tools

Focus is one thing that no amount of post-processing can fix. But, there are a few tools for making a sharp photo sharper. When you shoot in RAW, there’s no sharpening applied to the image, which means it’s important to add your own sharpening while editing on your Surface Pro 7 from In Lightroom, sharpening options are all under the detail slider. The amount controls how much of the sharpening effect to apply. The radius determines if the sharpening happens on the edge of the pixel or at the middle. A larger radius generally creates a more defined edge. The detail option fine-tunes, focusing more on the finer details of the image instead of the whole image. Masking allows you to control what areas of the image the effect is applied to. Moving the slider to the right means the sharpening will be applied to fewer areas. Sharpening an image in Photoshop is a bit more complex. The Filter > Sharpen menu contains several different options. The unsharp mask and smart sharpen are popular options, both with amount and radius sliders. Much like in Lightroom.

The Healing Brush and Clone Stamps

These tools help remove unwanted elements in an image, whether that’s a blemish or a distracting telephone pole in the background. The clone brush takes a portion of the image and makes an exact replica. An option or control click allows you to select the area that you want to replicate and choosing the brush size allows you to fine tune where the effect is applied. Clicking and painting over the area makes an exact clone of the original area. In Photoshop, you can also open two different images and set the reference point in one and then apply the clone in a completely different image. The healing brush is like a smarter clone stamp. The software recognizes other colors and patterns in the area, and removes objects based on that data. The healing brush is best for removing small objects surrounded by similar pixels, like removing blemishes. The clone tool is good for more complex work. Lightroom doesn’t offer as much control. But the spot removal tool works in a similar way, with both clone and heal options, and is good for simpler fixes.

Dodge and Burn

Dodge and burn allows you to lighten or darken specific areas of an image while editing on your Microsoft Surface Laptop from Like the clone and heal tools, the dodge and burn is a brush, so you can paint over the image where you want to apply the effect. Dodge lightens specific areas of an image, while burn darkens. Both are Photoshop tools inside the toolbar, while a top menu allows you to adjust how light or dark the effect is, as well as brush size and if that brush has a solid or faded edge.

Post-Processing Tips for Beginners

The Orton Effect

This is a digital process in Photoshop that allows you to add a blur or glow to your images and it really adds some feel and mood to the overall image. It’s best done selectively by masking in certain areas or making out areas in which you don’t want the effect applied. Duplicate Background or Merged copy in the Layers panel. Go to Image>Apply Image. Change the Blend Mode to “Screen” in the Layers panel. Go to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Then set your radius depending on image size and taste.

Post-Processing Tips for Beginners

Experiment with these post-processing techniques to really spruce up your digital images.

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