Monday, March 3, 2008

Digiscoping: Post-processing - Software (Updated 2017)


My post-processing workflow has changed in the past few years. For that reason I feel it important to rewrite these next couple of sections entirely. That said, the information posted previously is still valuable and still provides (hopefully) some useful information for those that may be using older computers / software packages. So I will still post it w/ a dated reference (Pre-2016).

In 2013 Adobe switched to a Cloud-based Subscription scheme for their popular Photoshop and Lightroom Software packages. For the consumer this meant that they could no longer purchase the software for home use. But surprisingly, the subscription-based Photoshop Creative Cloud program has been very successful. Programs like Photoshop and Lightroom are continuously updated, so for as little as $10.95 / month you have the latest versions of each. Given the original price tag of ~$600 for Photoshop alone you'd been stuck with a single version for at least 4-5 years before you could upgrade. So, I went to the $10.95 / month subscription and haven't looked back. 

I never used Lightroom before, so it was a bit of an adjustment getting used to a package that wasn't Photoshop. Luckily, there are tons of websites and YouTube videos out there to answer any question concerning the use of LR. I'm now doing about 90% of my post-processing now w/ LR and saving PS for some final manipulations. If you don't use LR and/or PS you can still reference the Pre-2016 information regarding which software to purchase to fit your budget and needs. So, here goes:

Its 2017 and I'm using (almost) the latest and greatest camera(s) for photographing birds. What this means is that the camera is doing most of the work generating the best possible image for publication or posting. The computers on these machines have gotten so good that I make only very minor adjustments to most images. But when I do, I turn to Lightroom and Photoshop CC to make my post-processing adjustments. See next section for Workflow...

Pre-2016


Now what? – It’s Post-Processing Time! Cameras do a wonderful job adjusting white balance, sharpness, etc. However, I've seen many a disappointed digiscoper when the image that looked great through their viewfinder looked dull, dark and not-handsome when transferred to the web. This is because the camera processes the image data when its played back in review-mode, so you are not seeing the real image data. So, the next step in the digiscoping process is to post-process the image to do for the digital negative what the lab does for film.

What’s wrong with this picture? This image suffers from a blue cast, soft focus, and shadows along the edge from vignetting. We can adjust and remove some of these defects using a good image-processing software package.


Photo-editing Software A good photo-editing software package will allow you to open various file types, make adjustments such as brightness, contrast, color balance, sharpen, soften, and allow you to export your finished product to various devices such as printers, files, and the web. Check out Top Ten Reviews, Inc. It is a great site that shows you what’s available in 2014 for photo-editing software, how much it costs, what each package has to offer, and what to look for in your investment.


My choice? – Adobe Photoshop CS6 Adobe Photoshop is the standard by which all photo-editing software is judged. I use it because its available to me through my workplace. It is expensive, but it does everything! That said, what I do with my post-processing workflow can be accomplished with most any software package available, probably even freeware. I therefore only need a package that suits my workflow: adjust brightness/contrast, color balance, cropping, and selective sharpening/noise removal. Photoshop Elements is significantly cheaper (~$100) and will provide 95% of your image processing needs. Don't discount the software that came w/ your camera, either, as it may provide you with everything you need.

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