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7 Essential Steps in any Post-Processing Workflow

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Post-processing is the act of editing and enhancing your photographs after they have been taken. Post-processing techniques include:

  • Cropping: Changing the aspect ratio or trimming the edges of your photograph.
  • Levels and Curves: Adjust the brightness, contrast, shadows, and highlights of your image.
  • Color Correction: Adjust the white balance, vibrance, and saturation of your image.
  • Sharpening: Making your image appear sharper and clearer.
  • Noise Reduction: Reducing the amount of digital noise in your image.
  • Horizon Line Correction: This is especially important for landscape photographers. If the horizon line in your photo is not level, it can be fixed with a simple tilt correction.
  • Vignetting: Vignetting is when the corners of your photo are darker than the rest of the image. This can be caused by your camera lens or by shooting in RAW. Vignetting can be fixed by using the levels or curves tool in your editing software.
  • Saturation: Saturation is the intensity of color in your photo. If your photo looks washed out or dull, you can increase the saturation to make the colors pop. Be careful not to overdo it, as too much saturation can make your photo look fake or artificial.
  • Highlights and Shadows: The highlights and shadows tool can be used to bring out detail in your photo that might be lost in the shadows or blown out in the highlights. This is a great way to add depth and dimension to your photo.
  • Contrast: Contrast is the difference between the light and dark areas of your photo. Increasing the contrast can make your photo look more dynamic and engaging.
  • Remove Unwanted Elements: Every photo has unwanted elements, whether it’s a stray hair, a piece of trash, or a power line. These elements can be removed with the clone stamp tool or the healing brush tool.
  • Digital Blending: Digital blending is a technique that can be used to create HDR images or to blend multiple exposures together. This is a great way to add drama and interest to your photo.

For eCommerce brands, post-processing can make the difference between a product that sells and one that doesn’t. Imagine looking at a beautiful image of a dress on a website. But when you click to enlarge the photo, you see that it’s been heavily photoshopped with an unrealistic skin tone, waist size, and neckline. You’re less likely to buy that product because it doesn’t look like what it appears to be—it’s been deceivingly edited.

On the other hand, natural post-processing can make an image look more polished without looking fake. For example, you may want to edit a portrait to remove blemishes or whiten teeth. These small changes can make a big difference in the final product.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to post-processing, which is why it’s important to have a workflow. A workflow is a system that you follow each time you edit a photo. This ensures that you don’t miss any steps and that your photos are consistently edited to your standards.

Though some photographers would rather spend time in the field than edit photos on a computer, every photographer has to at least do some post-processing. If you want to maintain artistic and technological standards, cutting down your post-processing workflow is not an option.

In this article, we will discuss the six essential steps in any post-processing workflow and explain what the minimum is.

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7 Essential Steps You Must Include in your Post-Processing Workflow

These steps aren’t meant to restrict you, but rather to serve as guidelines for editing your photos. After all, everyone’s post-processing workflow is different. So once you’ve gone through these seven steps, feel free to declare your image complete—or continue working on it until it meets your standards.
1. Crop and Straighten your Images

As soon as our creative editors open my images in Lightroom, the first thing they do is crop and straighten them. Although it’s best to get the composition right in-camera, sometimes you can make slight improvements when seeing the image on a screen. Just don’t rely on this method too much.

Cropping an image usually results in a lower resolution and more noticeable flaws. Also, it’s easy to take a slightly crooked image when hand-holding your camera. This isn’t an issue, though, as long as you remember to fix it later.

Either way, you should always check the horizon line and make sure it’s level. To do this in Lightroom, go to the Develop Module and find the “Straighten” tool under the Crop & Rotate section. Make sure that you do this before making any other adjustments, as it will change the way your image looks. And don’t overdo it!

2. Adjust the White Balance

If you want your images to look natural, it’s important to get the white balance right. The white balance is the level of warmth or coolness in an image. When taking photos, our cameras try to automatically adjust the white balance. But, sometimes they don’t quite get it right. This is why it’s important to know how to manually adjust the white balance in post-processing.

Also, most photographers shoot in RAW and leave their camera’s White Balance on Auto. The RAW file format allows you to change the image temperature without any loss of quality, making it perfectly acceptable (even though it does mean you’ll be spending more time on the computer).

Depending on the situation, your goal might be to perfectly reproduce the color temperature you observed in nature. Or, alternatively, you could be going for a more creative feel. When you want a warmer image, use higher temperatures (high degrees K), which counteract colder light. If you want a cooler image, use lower temperatures (low K), which will balance out a warmer color cast.
3. Check the Exposure

After adjusting the White Balance, check your exposure. This is an important step in post-processing that should not be overlooked. Take a close look at your image to see if it is too bright, too dark, or just right before moving on.

The histogram is a very useful tool and it’s important to learn how to read it. Look for blown-out highlights or crushed blacks as peaks pressing up against either end of the graph, as well as gaps that indicate a lack of darker or lighter tones in your image.

Although getting the perfect exposure while you’re still out in the field is ideal, post-processing gives us some room to work with. For example, Lightroom has a general Exposure slider that allows us to fix small exposure mistakes. And if we want to take it one step further, we can also adjust the more specific Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks sliders.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the other sliders in the Basic panel. The Tone Curve, for instance, lets you control the brightness and darkness of an image in a much more specific way than the Exposure slider.

4. Check the Vibrance and Saturation

If you want to intensify all the colors in an image, look for the Saturation setting. If you only want to target less saturated colors, use Vibrance instead. These options are usually easy to find in photo editing software.

Use Saturation and Vibrance cautiously to avoid overwhelming the viewer with too much color. A little bit can go a long way. Also, keep in mind that different colors react differently to these settings. For example, boosting the Saturation of blue skies can result in an unnatural and unpleasant image.
5. Check for Noise

After you take the picture, be sure to check the noise levels. This is especially important if you used a long exposure or high ISO when taking the shot. Upping the exposure in post-processing might also add some unwanted noise to your image.

Noise levels are usually pretty easy to spot. Just take a close look at your image and see if there is any graininess or color distortion. If so, try using a noise reduction filter in your photo editing software.

There are also some things you can do to avoid noise in the first place. For example, shoot in RAW format, which gives you more flexibility in terms of noise reduction. And if you’re using a long exposure, try to use a tripod to keep the camera as still as possible.

If you find the noise in your photos to be unpleasant, photo editing software like Photoshop can help remove it. Keep in mind that removing noise also decreases overall image sharpness (for luminance noise) and saturation (for color noise). So use this correction sparingly.

6. Check the Sharpness

An image’s sharpness is the level of detail and clarity it has. This is usually affected by the camera you’re using, the lens, and the settings you choose when taking the photo. But it can also be impacted by things like camera shake, motion blur, and noise.

There are a few different ways to increase sharpness in post-processing. One is to use the Sharpen tool, which is usually pretty easy to find in photo editing software. Just be careful not to overdo it, as too much sharpening can result in an unnatural and unpleasant-looking image.

Another way to increase sharpness is to increase the Clarity setting. This will make the details in your image more pronounced without making the overall image look too sharp.

7. Check the Composition

Once you’ve finalized all the technical aspects of your photo, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the composition. This is something you should always be thinking about when taking photos, but it’s easy to get caught up in all the other details and forget.

There are a few things to look for when evaluating the composition of your photo. First, is the subject in the center of the frame or off to one side? Second, are there any distracting elements in the photo that should be cropped out? And third, does the photo have good balance and symmetry?

If you find that the composition of your photo could be improved, don’t be afraid to crop it. Cropping is one of the most basic and essential editing techniques, and it can make a big difference in the overall look of your photo.

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Post Processing Services at Pixel by Hand

When it comes to running an eCommerce business, product photos play a crucial role in your success. Professional product photography can make a big difference in the way your products are perceived by potential customers, and it can help you stand out from the competition.

But professional product photography can be expensive, and not everyone has the budget for it. That’s where post-processing services like Pixel by Hand come in. We can take your existing product photos and edit them to make them look their best.

Our team of professional photo editors can improve the color, contrast, and overall look of your photos, and we can even retouch them to remove any imperfections. We also offer a wide range of other post-processing services, including background removal, image resizing, and product photo montages.

If you’re interested in learning more about our post-processing services, please contact us today. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions and provide you with a free quote.

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