Before you can really do any
kind of processing you need to decide what kind of output
you want (Web, Monitor or Print) and you can't properly do
that until you
see the image file. This is something no one seems to mention.
For instance, am I going to view it on a 16 X 9 monitor
only? Do I want to print it? If I crop for an 8 X 10 and I
want it on a monitor what should I do? It sort of works like
this - you crop to create the best output you
can. Some are great in landscape and some in portrait
mode. You will end up with some photos that are great
on a monitor but print terribly as the resolution is not
I have brought this up first
as you are shooting something that is not staged. You have
to process what you were able to find and shoot. You are not
building a set in a studio, putting up props and then shooting
from the perfect position. You are not processing a
landscape where you walked a mile to get to the right spot. You
are processing an image where you were only able to get so close
to the subject at
such an angle you were only able to capture so much DOF. Now you have to make the most
Output - Web, Monitor
If you plan on displaying your
photo on a
monitor the only way to calculate what the
image size should be is to measure the
monitor and divide it into the screen resolution. Each
monitor is different so the optimum size will be different
for each one. It is not 72 dpi unless you are running a 20
or 30 year old monitor. For optimum display you need to use
the monitors native resolution and then make the
calculation. There is an excellent web page that goes over
Photoshop Essentials Website. The catch is that not
everyone uses the same display settings (I can't read the
text using my native resolution) nor do they have the same
monitor. It is probably why the 72 dpi myth has been
around for so long, there is no right answer that fits everyone's needs.
When printing people think of dots per
inch "DPI" but what is being printed is "Pixels per Inch" in
a lab. Someone should write a really good easy to understand
explanation of all of it. I haven't found one yet but I'm sure one is out there being missed by the
search engines. What is out there are a few good pages that if you
read them you can sort of get a decent understanding of it. One
is naturally at
Cambridge in Colour
it touches on Pixels per Inch and
Dots per inch and how misleading they can be especially with
ink jet printers. The key to understanding it is that it takes a different
amount of dots per inch to make up a pixel as you are using
different color inks to produce the pixel. The page goes on
about what size file for what size print but there are
better references for that in my opinion. It continues with aspect ratio and
ends with sensor size.
The sensor size is a must read. I have
(had) a Canon 60D, which is an 18 megapixel camera with a 1.6 crop
sensor. I also have a 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II is 21.1
megapixel full frame camera so I divided that by 1.6 and came up with 13.2 so
for the same area on my sensor the 60D has 18 megapixels and the
5D Mark II 13.2 a 27 percent difference. Hands down the Canon 5D
Mark II puts out a superior image, (you can easily see it)
and this web page explains why.
On to what size to print, as you don't
want to base it on file size which is sort of useless so you
need a calculator and a good one is available here at
Photokaboom. Think about it, you have a photo that is properly sized lets say 2 inches by 20 inches
(a football team group photo) and it is a
10 meg file, do you really think you are going to get an 8 X
10? I know that is silly but it makes a point.
However you really need to also
understand PPI in more depth as it relates to printing,
Cambridge in Colour goes into it on the link above but
here is more about it
Have Camera will Travel.
One thing I have found and it
sounds silly but you can have to much detail. I have some
files that I had printed at 16X20 and they were amazing. So
I had some additional ones printed at 8X10 and they were
awful and the reason was with the bigger size you could see
detail that you couldn't see on an 8X10 as it all ran
My Basic Post Processing:
If you read some of the other pages you
will learn to shoot in RAW. All cameras with the ability to
shoot in RAW have a RAW editor/converter. If you took some
time in the field to dump the really poor shots you should
have only somewhat decent ones on the camera. In the field it
doesn't take long to do a quick review. All you need to do
to look at the histogram and if it is poor delete it, then do
a quick zoom if it looks somewhat sharp keep it, if not
Everyone uses something
different for post processing software but the steps are
about the same. Regardless of the software open the
image and zoom to 100% to see what is really sharp. If it is not sharp
enough, delete it. Do this quickly through all of the images
as it will save time later.
I shoot Canon and they have
exceptional editing software (my opinion); however, it has
its limits. I only started using Lightroom a year and a half
ago. I start off by coping all my files to a folder on
my desktop and then I use Canon's DPP to view and rate them.
Either they pass or fail and the failed ones are deleted.
The passed ones go into Lightroom. I know of others that do
this in Adobe's Bridge or with Perfect Photo Suite 9. I have
tried it in all of them and I keep ending up with Canon's
If you do this first you are left with only
files with a decent, may not be perfect exposure, but they are
all sharp. Sharp counts in close up and macro shots.
At this point
since they are in LightRoom I have a preset that I apply. My
preset has the following settings.
"Camera Calibration" - I select for a profile
"Lens Corrections" - I put a check in Enable Profile
Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration.
portion here in blue is what I use but it needs to be what
works based on your camera - Keep in mind these are
basics they are a starting point
"Detail and Sharpening" - Amount set to 48, Radius
1.0 Detail 25
"Detail and Noise Reduction" Luminance 34, Detail
50, Contrast 0, Color 25, Detail 50 and Smoothness
Once I apply
the Presets, under Basic what I do is hold down the ALT Key
(I use Windows) and adjust the Whites and the Blacks by
sliding it until I can just see some appear.
I usually at
this point put in Clarity of +20, Vibrance of +10 and
sometimes Saturation of +5
This was shot with a Canon
SL1 with a Canon 100mm Macro and a Canon 270 EX II flash
everything is set I go in and crop. I suppose I should crop
first and then set my black and white level but I don't.
With the spider above I could go with either landscape or
portrait. When I zoom at 100 percent the quality is decent
enough and when I crop I am not going to be exceeding 100
percent of my view. So it will continue to look good on the
screen. However, the image really isn't going to be great
for printing. I could possibly get an 8 X 10 out of it but
nothing more. Keep in mind this was shot with the second least
expensive DSLR Canon makes. This same shot on a 5D
MK II or III would be much different. Once cropped I make my
final adjustments such as adjusting Highlights and Shadows.
At this point
I open it in NIK Sharpener Pro 3. I have a preset that
I apply that contains these settings.
Sharpening Strength 81%
This seems to
work for me but you may want to use it as starting point for
what you prefer.
I then save it
and convert to a JPG.
Click on the photo to open the JPG
Notice that when you click on it
zooms to 100 percent and the photo does not get much bigger
meaning there is a huge crop.