Give your Photos Some Extra Pizzazz with the Post Processing Dash :: Digital Photo Secrets

Give your Photos Some Extra Pizzazz with the Post Processing Dash

by David Peterson 5 comments

I'm really excited about the "Post Processing" stream in next month's Photography Dash. Did you know that a little post processing can make a big difference to your photos?

In the Post Production Dash, I'll show you how to enhance your photos from the dull, lifeless images your camera sometimes takes, into stunning photos with colors that that pop. I'll show you the workflow I (and most professional photographers) use after taking my photos, and I'll give you sample images you can experiment with yourself.

I recently received this image from Monique Rousseau. She liked the look of the landscape, but thought the sky was too flat and washed out, and the ground was too dark. She wondered if there was any way to improve it.

Yes, there is, Monique. Most of the image is great - you have placed some flowers in the foreground to give scale and interest to the photo; there is a good middle ground and mountains in the background; and lots of wavy lines in the coastline and mountains to keep viewers of the photo interested. But because of the exposure issues, we can't see anything interesting in the sky, and the pretty colors in the flowers don't stand out. Let's fix that.

Image by Monique Rousseau

To improve this image in post processing, we:

  • bumped up the clarity to give the photo some sharpness
  • boosted the mid-tones so the land is brighter
  • expanded the dynamic range in the sky so we can see some of the clouds
  • and finally added some vibrancy and saturation so the colors in the flowers stand out.

It looks a lot better. And the whole process took about 30 seconds in Photoshop Elements. I'll cover the steps I used to improve this photo in day 3 and 4.

Now, this photo won't win any awards (the right side of the sky was too bright for the camera to correctly record, so we can't fix that), but the changes have made the photo much better. And it's a great example of how you can quickly and easily give your images some of the same 'wow factor' you see in stunning images online.

Cropping Makes Images Much More Interesting

Here's another example of how some strategic cropping makes a huge difference to an image:

Image from Judy Simpson's March Dash

The left image is straight from Judy's camera. We've cropped it to a tight shot of the tops of the crayons only. This emphasizes the colors and removes the dead space all around our main subject. It also removes the distracting rubber band at the bottom of the image. I'll show you when cropping can help your image, and what to look for when cropping your shot.

Make Your Images Come Alive

Here's another landscape example I'll be showing you in the course. We brightened the shadows, removed the sun lens flare, bumped up the color slightly, and made the sky more dramatic.

Image by Eileen Morgan

A New Take on Black and White

Did you know there are thousands of ways to convert your color image to black and white? Take a look at this image by Robert Triggs:

Image by Robert Triggs

On Day 6, I'll show you how to change the ratios of colors when converting to black and white, to come up with completely new ways to look at your image! As you can see here, we can convert either the yellow side or red side of the playground equipment to a black color, or both sides which will highlight the background scenery.

Post Processing Dash

In May's Photography Dash on Post Processing, I'll show you step-by-step the process to give photos just like these some extra pizzazz. You'll be able to follow along with your own editor using the same images I use, or you can improve your own photos.

I'll show you (with videos) how to improve your own images with post processing using the four most popular image editors: Photoshop CC, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and Picassa. These simple tricks are quick and easy to implement - you won't need to sit by a computer for 10 hours trying to fix one image.

And I'll show you what NOT to do! Sometimes that's much more important - for instance, we wouldn't want to overdo the saturation and create an unnaturally colorful photo. And if you don't follow the guidelines for cropping I teach in the course, you'll likely end up with a worse image.

The changes I made to the above images are covered in just four of the eight topics in the course. There's plenty more to learn! We'll also cover how to correctly straighten your images for maximum impact, how to remove specs and unwanted parts, and using masks to apply effects to only part of your image. I'll also discuss using the RAW file format, and organizing your photos. See the Dash information page for a full list of topics.

Post Processing is just one stream in the May Photography Dash. The other stream is called "Dash Blend". In the Dash Blend stream, I'll give you a mix of challenges designed to get you photographing subjects that you would not normally photograph. The challenges will have you using your camera in ways you hadn't previously imagined!

Participate in one, or both streams! Take the cool photos you've taken in the Dash Blend, and improve on them using the tips from the Dash Post Processing stream!

The Photography Dash Starts on the 1st of May. Register Now!

I hope you see you there!

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  1. Mike Wessel says:

    Hi David,
    I use ACDSee and I'm wondering if you feel it would be a smart move to go to Photoshop.
    I have shot in RAW for a while now and was pleased to read I was doing a few things correctly.


  2. Dennis says:

    What is your opinion about using a Photoshop plugin like Topaz to make a photo look like a digital painting?

  3. fanie says:

    Al very interesting but i am a very slow student come from the old school but thanks hope to get there

  4. Randy says:

    These are great steps to enhance my photos. Thanks. . . I do have one question. I would like to be able to crop photos and have the mega-pixals or size of the file be the same as before cropping. Does anyone know how this can be done or a software that will do this>

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