Melon – Project 365: Day 171

by matt on August 10, 2010

MelonThe shot of today is a melon we picked up at the Lively Organic Farm.  Today I wanted to talk a bit about how I typically process images.  This is the process I use and I imagine every photographer has a different way of doing it and even my methods change a bit depending on what kind of shot it is.  But I’ll walk you through step by step how I made this image.

First, I chose the blue background for this subject as the melon has a bit of yellow in it and blue and yellow are complimentary colors.  I took several shots adjusting my aperture and flash power until I got this image which was my favorite of the bunch.

I shoot entirely in RAW so my first step is to open the image up in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).  This allows me to adjust things like exposure, brightness and contrast.  For this image I used the following settings:

exposure = +0.25
recovery = 0
fill light = 12
blacks = 5
brightness = +50
contrast = +52
clarity = +29
vibrance = 0
saturation = 0

Then in the sharpen tab of ACR I chose the following settings:

Amount = +99
Radius = 2.9
Detail = 8

With some images I will do more like correct for chromatic abberations if necessary or I have a few filters that I add at times.  But the above steps are the basics that I apply to every image.  I basically adjust the above until I see what I like.  Generally I will adjust exposure first and then add contrast and clarity.  If I need to recover some of the whites I will use the recovery slider.  If I need to lighten some of the blacks I will use the fill light slider.

Once I have made my adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw I will open the image up in Photoshop.  I am using Photoshop CS5 but my process should translate the same to previous versions as well.  The very first thing I do is create a new layer.  I try and work in layers as much as possible because I like to be able to turn them on and off to see how they affect the image and if I do something that I don’t like I can simply delete the layer.  Please keep in mind that I am not a Photoshop expert and certainly would never claim to be one.  There are probably better ways of doing what I am doing here but this is what I’ve been doing for better or worse.

With this image after creating a new layer I use one of my third party filters called Topaz Labs Adjust 4 which I find to be a very powerful filter for adjusting images.  It’s a fantastic filter for quickly enhancing any image to really make it “pop”.  In Topaz Labs Adjust 4 on the left side of the screen are some presets which are a great starting point depending on how you want the image to look.  For this image I used an initial setting called “Photo Pop” and then adjusted as follows from the default:

Adaptive Exposure = 0.33
Regions = 22
Contrast = 0.27
Brightness = 0
Highlight = 0.05
Shadow = 0.03

All the other settings I left at the default.  I then applied the settings which brings me back into Photoshop.  Since I applied this filter to a layer I can easily turn it on and off to see the effect it has on the image.  Next I apply a little Unsharp Mask action with the following settings:

Amount = 11
Radius = 110.9
Threshhold = 0

I then merge all the layers into a single layer.  The final step is to do a spot treatment of the image.  With digital there are times when sensor dust is visible in the image.  A lot of this has to do with what aperture you shot with.  To get rid of spots and blemishes I use the Spot Healing Brush with the Content Aware setting selected and create a diameter of brush that just covers the spot.  One click and they are removed like magic.

So that is a quick run-down on the work I did on this image.  This was a pretty straight-forward image that didn’t require much Photoshop work.  If you are looking for a good Photoshop book I have been using Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers by Martin Evening which I find to be an excellent book on everything Photoshop.

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