Photo Editing Demo – House

This demo covers the necessary steps to enhance a photo using the 10 Step Post Processing Workflow as outlined by  You may not need to follow this procedure with all of your photos, but whenever you want to get that special photo looking just right, these steps can make all the difference.

Evaluating Photo

Before you carry out any editing, you have to first of all evaluate the photo to decide which steps you might need to apply.  The display on the camera is so small, captured photos are hard to evaluate properly.  So what do you look for when deciding if one of your photos can be improved?

The main areas to look at are :-

  1. The Tonal Range - range of tones in a photo between pure white and pure black.
  2. Colours - hue, saturation, and brightness can be adjusted.
  3. Flaws in Photo – Small imperfections can be retouched using Photo Editing Program.
  4. Sharpness of Photo – most photos can benefit from sharpening.
  5. Noise – can appear in low light conditions when using high ISO setting.

After evaluating a photo, you should then decide which steps of the Post Processing Workflow should be carried out as shown below.

10 Step Post Processing Workflow Photo of Bedroom
  1. White Balance - temperature and tint adjustment sliders
  1. Exposure - exposure compensation, highlight/shadow recovery
  1. Noise Reduction - during RAW development or using external software
  1. Lens Corrections - distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations
  1. Detail - capture sharpening and local contrast enhancement
  1. Contrast - black point, levels and curves tools
  1. Framing - straighten and crop
  1. Refinements - colour adjustments and selective enhancements
  1. Resizing - enlarge for a print or downsize for the web or email
  1. Output Sharpening - customized for your subject matter and print/screen size

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Step 2 – Exposure

The camera settings for this photo are:

Program mode: Aperture priority
Exposure time: 1/250s
Aperture: F10
ISO: 250
Exposure bias: -1

Figure: Photo of house before any adjustments made

When taking this photo, I used Aperture Priority program as I wanted to be able to set a small aperture for maximum depth of field so that the wall on the right would be sharp. To prevent the sky from becoming overexposed, I set the exposure bias to: -1 which has the effect of reducing exposure by -1 stop. Notice how the sky is properly exposed but the shadows are too dark.

The exposure adjustment settings for this photo are:

Lights: -25 – to recover slightly blown out sky
Shadows: 60 – to brighten up shadows
Contrast: -10 – to slightly lower contrast

Figure: After making exposure adjustments

As you can see above, the exposure and contrast is now more accurate. Its worth mentioning also, that these adjustments were made using a good quality monitor where the colours and contrast are fairly accurate.

Step 8 – Refinements – Colour adjustments and selective enhancements

One of the limitations of using a modern DSLR camera is that the sensor can be exposed to dust particles when the lens is changed. For cameras which have a fixed lens, like compact cameras, this is less likely to be a problem.

Figure: Photo of house with dust spots added to simulate the effect

Figure: Close-up of dust spots

As can be seen in the above Sensor Dust Spot simulation, as my camera is currently free of dust spots, the dust spots are quite noticeable and usually show up in bright areas of a photo like the sky.

To retouch the dust spots, select the Editor mode within Zoner as shown above. You will then be presented with a selection of editing tools. The Clone tool should be used to retouch dust spots like these. It can be accessed by first clicking on Retouching Tools icon and then clicking on Clone Stamp tool.

The diameter of the Clone tool has been set to 20 which is sufficiently small to clone from nearby area before applying to dust spot. To use the Clone Stamp, press CTRL key and click on area to be cloned, and then release CTRL key, move editing circle over dust spot, and then press Left Mouse button about 3 times

Note: The editor in Zoner Photo Studio might not be as advanced as Photoshop, but it is very capable of handling the editing required for everyday purposes.

Step 10 - Output Sharpening

The apparent sharpness of a photo depends a great deal on how much contrast there is along edges and lines. If a photo looks soft, it can often be improved by sharpening, a process (technically called unsharp masking) that adds contrast along lines and edges. Many photographers sharpen almost every photo except for photos such as fog scenes that are deliberately soft.

Note: If they are misused, sharpening and noise reduction can actually cause problems with your photos. However, if they are used with care, they are a great way to add polish to your photos.

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