Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Process of a Picture

I took a photography class at the University of Richmond a few years ago and the instructors were nature photographers. They said your goal was to take a photograph that did not need to be edited. However, they also had camera equipment that combined was probably worth the value of my house. So I learned how to edit. I use an Adobe program called Lightroom. I do own Photoshop Elements 8 but I find it too cumbersome. I researched Lightroom and found that a lot of photographers used it for the bulk of their editing and would use photoshop only for certain things Lightroom could not do, like switching heads for example.

I thought I would share the process of what goes into editing one of my photos, so that people understand it is not as simple as uploading and you are done. I have a Canon 50 D which is considered a semi pro camera so it does not take that clear full frame quality photo that the professional cameras do. (I am saving for one! Think between $2500-$5000 dollars just for the body of a camera, not including lenses! That makes Brian cringe in pain...) Each editing process differs and believe me I am not a true professional and do not spend close to half the time they might on one photograph that will be used for publication. But here is what I do:

Step 1: Prior to uploading photos I go through the hundreds of photos from a shoot and try and delete on my camera any bad shots (closed eyes, poor exposure, etc.).

Step 2: Plug camera into Mac and import photos off of camera into Lightroom while simultaneously backing the originals up on a dvd or external drive. I use keywords in the upload to tag the photos so if I need to find in the future. (For example: Sledding or Baseball, or the name of the family I photographed, etc.)

Step 3: Once the hundreds of photos are imported from a specific shoot, I start to go through them one by one. It is easier to see them on the computer versus the camera. I flag photos I like and delete photos I do not. This is often my most time consuming step.

Step 4: Let's say I chose this photo that I liked.


This is my friend's daughter. I think it is cute but the photo needs work. So I fix white balance, lighten the exposure, I use fill light and increase black. I crop the photo, sharpen the picture and I magnify her eyes to highlight and sharpen, brighten. She has a bit of a stuffy, red nose in this photo so I want to try and fix that too. I think noses are tough to edit.  And after I do all that I get this.


Step 5: Repeat step 4 for a hundred or more photos I flag.

Step 6: Choose all flagged photos and export with LOW resolution to desktop. Photos should be in lower resolution to upload to webpage to show on gallery.

Step 7: After uploaded to hard drive they need to be loaded onto the website's client gallery. I sometimes move the order of photos around in the gallery so it gives more of a variety to the client.

Step 8: After a client places their order I go back into Lightroom to get photo. Sometimes the client wants it changed to black and white or back to color or a different preset, so I do that again. I upload highest resolution and file size to hard drive again for printing. Then I go to the printing company I use and load each photo to the printing company. I look at each photo in the cart to make sure that the cropping and color looks correct.

Step 9: Place order and wait to receive photos to package for mailing or if the client orders a dvd of their shoot then I load high resolution photos onto a dvd and prepare packaging to mail.

Done! So you can see it is SO much more than taking a photo and having it printed!

And I want to stress this is just how I do it. There is no right or wrong and I know there are easier ways but for now this is where I am at. I still have that goal of striving for the perfect shot straight out of the camera for the majority of my photos. The more practice I have the more I understand the mechanics and magic of the camera.

Love & Light,

Stacy

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