We’ve all sat, staring out of our window and cursing at the rain poring down or the flat, grey sky that just happened to cloud over on few hours we’ve managed to set aside in our busy schedule to head out and shoot some photos. But all is not lost for the opportunistic and well prepared photographer.
After many rainfalls or storms, comes a spectacular burst of light. Often this light lasts only momentarily, but is worth waiting for. But you’re never going to catch it if you’re still staring out of that window. Part of making good photographs is being an opportunist. Weather reports are easily accessible through the internet, over the radio, and in newspapers, often with detailed information.
You might be able to find out if the cloud cover or storm is about to pass. If not, head out anyway. Yes, it might all be in vain and remain gray and unappealing until nightfall and be a complete waste of time, but what if it isn’t?
If you speak to, or read any book written by a successful landscape photographer, they will tell you stories about how they visited a place dozens of times and waited for hours before getting that one in a million shot. Have a look at that shot. Was it worth the time? Chances are it was. Imagine the satisfaction gained from someone looking at your photo and letting out a breathless “Wow!” Then you’ll be the one telling the stories. A simple way to think about it is that you get out what you put in.
Have you done any research on your subject? Have you visited your location at this time of day before? Do you have a list, or at least a mental outline, of the photos you want? Have you considered the equipment you might need to take? Answering these questions will take you a long way to being able to seize the moment when it does eventually arrive.
Instead of fumbling around trying to attach lenses, tripods, filters and any other gadgets that might be necessary, (and I do mean “might”), you will simply be able to step out of your car, or hiding place, gear in hand, and calmly collect the images you’ve been imagining.
A little foresight in taking care of these things beforehand allows you to focus completely on taking photos once in the field. As with anything else, if you can concentrate completely, you’ll likely do a better job.
WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE?
Think about what you are actually trying to achieve with these pictures. Do you even need blue skies? Many a moody, muted landscape has been created using the worst weather conditions. If you have an interest in shooting black and white images, you could be in for a real treat. Many subjects, such as outdoor portraits, can work better in overcast conditions, enabling you to pick up the lines in someone’s face and add character to the portrait without having to worry about your subject squinting their eyes from the sun or dark shadows appearing over half of their face.
Most successful photography, like anything else, comes from having a clear goal and taking the steps necessary to achieve it. It also comes from working with the elements and planning for various possibilities. Open yourself up to new ideas and you will find that your photography improves markedly.
iN 2 DAYS: WHAT EQUIPMENT TO USE DURING BAD WEATHER! CAN YOU USE YOUR CURRENT CAMERA?
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This is the first time I have covered this subject. Not because I don’t like it. I like certain types of Abstract photography, but, in some cases it seems like an excuse to present something that is bad, and make it good. The photo above is one abstract photo I like because it is truly abstract in our everyday life, instead of just spilled paint somewhere (I might get some bad comments on that statement).
JUST WHAT IS ABSTRACT PHOTOGRAPHY?
The exact definition can be tricky to pin down. It seems that everyone has an opinion, but those opinions can differ wildly depending on who you talk to. Of course, there will always be regional and cultural variants, but let me try and tell you where abstract photography came from.
That way, you can decide what abstract photography means to you.
Abstract photography is no one particular style or technique. It has varied in style and approach for the last century or so.
However, all abstract photographers do have one thing in common: They are always looking to avoid symbolic representation.
What does that mean?
Well, it means that abstract photographers reject the idea that a photograph must always be of something recognizable. Instead, abstract photographers focus on color, shape and texture.
It was in the 1930s that abstract photography really became recognized internationally. Early pioneers include Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and Dora Maar. For some photographers, the process of making images was just as important as the result, which meant that new techniques and new ways of taking photographs were discovered during this period.
Much abstract photography today involves unusual framing and viewpoints in order to try and disassociate the object being photographed from the resultant images. Abstract photographers almost try and trick our eyes and minds into not being able to easily understand what they’re looking at. Such abstract images often use high contrast, sharp focus, and an emphasis on geometric structure.
Now that we’ve answered the question of what is abstract photography, it’s time to try and put the theory into practice.
Here are three techniques you can use to try and shoot your own abstract photos:
MAKE IT OUT OF FOCUS:
One of the first things we all learn in photography is how to get things in focus. In fact, our cameras will do this automatically for us if we want them to!
Accurate focus and good sharpness are two of the most desirable traits that most photographers look for in a photograph. So what happens when you subvert that traditional approach?
This bright red photograph (below) was created by using extension tubes (learn about how to use “extension tubes” by clicking HERE) to get right up close to a flower. I then ensured that the entire image was out of focus. The colors and patterns become the focus of the image instead of the flower itself:
You can take this one step further by turning your image black and white to remove all of the color information ( Turning color into black and white? Learn how HERE). This abstracts the subject even more, moving the photograph further away from the original object and reality:
For a photographer who is trying to explore what is abstract photography, this approach of creating out of focus photos can be a great way to start. It forces you to think hard about the composition of your images as you play only with light, color, and shape.
MAKE IT MOVE:
There are several ways to “make it move” when you’re doing abstract photography. You can move your subject, or you can move your camera.
Moving the camera can be as simple as panning the camera left to right during long exposures to capture the beautiful tones of a golden beach under blue skies. This will create smooth strips of horizontal color across the photograph.
An exciting way to shoot motion-based abstract photography is to attend sports events. The photograph below was shot at a classic car racing meet, the block colors of the barriers and curb creating stripes of colorful interest in the picture:
For creating abstract images with panning, first set a long exposure. You might need a very low ISO and a narrow aperture in order to get a shutter speed that’s long enough if it’s a sunny day.
Then move your whole body to follow the subject with your camera. It will take lots of practice!
Instead of moving your camera, you can also try moving your subject. The deceptively simple image of a glass bottle (above) is not quite as it seems. It was created from a dozen different shots, layered on top of each other using a “Pep Ventosa technique”. For each shot, the bottle was rotated slightly to catch the imperfections in the glass and the slight movement.
MAKE IT REPETITIVE:
Repetition is a technique that can be used to great effect in abstract photography. It makes the viewer focus on the patterns and shapes rather than the subject.
Try finding patterns in architecture and then isolating them, rather than photographing the whole building. This kind of approach of looking for details in larger scenes can help you really understand what abstract photography is all about.
If you want to shoot some architectural abstracts, modernist buildings are some of the best subjects. Their clean, smooth lines really lend themselves to abstract photography.
There are many different answers to the question, “What is abstract photography?” And there are many different ways to create abstract images.
What’s important is to try to move away from straight reproductions of scenes and objects that look just like reality.
Try introducing movement, repetition, or even making your images out of focus. Creating abstract photos is a great way to try breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries of what is usually seen as the correct way to do photography!
CHARLIE MOSS: is UK based photography journalist with experience shooting everything from historically inspired portraits to e-commerce photography. Her passion is history of art, especially contemporary culture and photography. Thanks to Charlie for this article. It was originally posted in Digital Photography School.
You have your new camera, and so far you like it. Now it’s time to look at adding more lenses to your equipment. Not sure what all those numbers mean? That is what we are here for!
WHAT DOES THE FIRST SET OF NUMBERS MEAN?
As you look at the top of your lens, or the front of your lens, the very first set of numbers, or number, tells you what the focal length of your lens is. For example the photo above show the focal length of your lens to be: 24-105mm. How does that equate to anything? Here is your reference point:
A normal lens is one who’s focal-length is equal to the diagonal of the sensor or film. This is said to give a natural perspective similar to that of a single human eye.
On a full-frame DSLR, it is usually a 50mm lens. On a cropped-sensor (APS-C) DSLR, a normal lens falls around 35mm but from 30 to 55mm, it would still be considered normal. For Four-Thirds and Micro Four-Thirds, you would use a 25mm. Usually most manufacturers make sure to have one bright prime that corresponds to the normal focal-length for the sensor-size.
Then going back to the lens above, let’s suppose your camera is a DSLR camera. The normal lens would then be about 30mm. If you were to look through the lens, it would appear that the image is the same size as what you see, without the camera. Then, if you go below the number 30mm you enter the range of wide angle lenses. Which means that the lens pushing the image back further to get more into the picture.
Definition of “WIDE ANGLE LENS”
(Photography) a lens system on a camera that can cover an angle of view of 60° or more and therefore has a fairly small focal length. Any number that is less than 30 is therefore a wide angle lens.
Definition of “telephoto” lens:
A telephoto lens is a lens that appears to magnify distant objects. To do that, they need to have a focal length longer than that of a normal lens, or a lens that approximates the optical qualities of the human eye. A normal lens has a focal length of 30mm on a full frame camera so any lens with a focal length longer than 30mm can be considered a telephoto lens. The longer the focal length, the more magnification there is.
WHAT IS THE PROPER USE OF WIDE ANGLE AND TELEPHOTO LENSES:
Generally, a normal lens (around 30mm) is used for…. normal everyday use. Photos of the family, the dog, the cat, the things around the house.
A wide angle lens is most popular for landscape or scenic photos, to get the whole picture into the frame.
And the telephoto is generally used to bring objects in closer to you. The most common use is for wildlife, sports, and things from afar.
NEXT SET OF NUMBERS:
THE “APERTURE RANGE”
Every lens has an aperture in it. It controls the amount of light getting through the lens. This has another major function that photographers really use and that is the “depth of field”. That has been discussed before in a previous blog. JUST : CLICK HERE
It is usually expressed in f-stops such as f/1.4 and stated on the name of the lens. For example, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.4, whereas the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G has a maximum aperture of f/1.8.
One lens, and several different aperture openings:
Here is where it can get interesting and you can see why the price of a lens goes up. Listed below is a list of Nikon lenses. And they are all 50mm lenses. You can see the Nikkor lens 50mm F1.8 lens lists for only $134.95. Now go to the second lone on the list: Nikkor 50mm 1.4D lens. It sells for $369.95. And go to the top one: the 50mm f1.2 lens sells for $724.95.
The difference between each 50 mm lens is that the f1.4 lens lets in almost twice the amount of light through it than the f1.8 lens. I don’t know how many actual lens elements are in each lens, but, say they have 14 elements in the lens. That would mean the f1.4 lens elements, all 14 of them have to be made larger than the f1.8 lens. But if you are a person who wants the lens to be able to shoot in lower light, then the f1.4 lens is a better choice. Better still, the f1.2 which doubles the amount of light transmission would even be better. But you would end up paying for all those elements in the lens housing to be bigger than the previous version.
So, in summary on this number, the lens with the smallest number, let’s a lot more light through the lens than a lens with a bigger number. And that allows you to also have a depth of field even smaller, but, the usual case for having a lens with a lower aperture number is usually to allow you to shoot in lower light.
THE LAST IMPORTANT NUMBER:
THE FINAL IMPORTANT NUMBER TO KNOW IS THE FILTER SIZE THE LENS TAKES.
On this photo above, all lenses (at least I think almost all lenses) have a number to tell you what size filter this lens takes or the size of the lens cap. If you are a photographer who uses filters (and I think all photographers should use filters), you will appreciate knowing what size filters you would need to enhance your photography. On this lens above, the filter size is a 72mm. That is a big filter, but certainly good to know. If you would like to learn more about using filters, CLICK HERE AND one more link: CLICK THIS ONE TOO
We are going to see a huge new surge in lenses within the next few years. All because so many of the brands of cameras changed their lens mount. Why? Because they changed from a DSLR camera, which uses lenses that are about the same size as the older 35mm film cameras, to the smaller mirrorless cameras which made it so the lenses mount, and the lenses went smaller. And that means what was good with one type of lens mount, they will now need to do the same thing to the smaller lens mounts, such as the new NIKON Z camera series.
NIKON Z LENSES NOW
As of this writing, Nikon makes about 27 lenses already for their Z camera series. So, that means they will release about 23 more lenses in the next few years. It is amazing how many lenses need to be created to accomplish all the different types of photography there is (Hmmm, that might be a good blog subject).
7 New lenses are about to be released soon:
With that being said, it is obvious that they have some already announced or rumored to be releases soon:
A 12-28mm DX zoom
A 200-600mm super-telephoto zoom
A 24mm DX lens
A 26mm lens
An 85mm S-line lens
A 400mm S-line lens
A 600mm S-line lens
Of course, that leaves many future lenses unaccounted for, though I’d certainly wager that we’ll get a 70-200mm f/4 lens, designed as a low-cost 70-200mm f/2.8 alternative. Look for a 500mm f/4 S-line lens, designed for bird and wildlife photographers, and several wider primes (including, perhaps, a 14mm f/2.8 and/or a 35mm f/1.4).
Once Nikon has covered all its more “conventional” bases, keep an eye out for the specialty lenses: fisheye lenses and zoom lenses, additional macro prime lenses, and tilt shift lenses. In the meantime, Nikon mirrorless shooters can still gain access to basic and specialty models via the FTZ adapters.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THEIR COMPETITORS: CANON AND SONY?
CANON; Canon currently has 25 lenses in their RF series of lenses. The RF lenses are the lenses Canon makes for their smaller mirrorless cameras. And they are planning on releasing about 30 more in the next 5 years. That should complete their lineup.
SONY: Well, Sony has had a head start on their lens lineup for about the last 7 years. So they already have about 70 lenses for their mirrorless cameras. Sony hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, either, so for now – and for the foreseeable future – Sony will continue to lead the pack.
HOW TO PICK AND CHOOSE A LENS:
I was looking through my arsenal of information I have available, but the best one is in my professional course, that describes how lenses can be used, what millimeter lenses are the best, etc. Go to my professional course titled “BASIC PHOTO COURSE”, and it is here at this link. Click here.
NOW WHAT WILL YOU DO TO
If you are serious about photography, you will want to get some extra lenses for your tools. It is amazing how your photography can be enhanced with a variety of lenses. You can choose a lens for the following reasons:
A wide angle lens for taking breathtaking landscapes
A macro lens for taking pictures close-up
A telephoto lens to get photos of wildlife
A fast lens to be able to shoot in low light
A fisheye lens to get almost a 180 degree view
A lens to take the perfect portrait
And so many other types of subjects.
Coming next blog: learn why there are so many different lenses, what makes a lens cost more than others, what are the different uses of lenses? Complete instruction on lenses and their uses.
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If there’s ever been a firmware date to get overly excited about, it’s the latest one for the Nikon Z9. The flagship camera was already an absolute beast with astonishing 8K 30p video capabilities, but this most recent firmware update adds features that basically make it an entirely new camera.
When the NIKON Z9 was released, it caused some serious excitement thanks to its 45.7MP stacked CMOS sensor, its incredible 8K video and 120fps continuous burst shooting. Not only were the specs incredibly tempting, but the price was too – coming in significantly cheaper than the rival SONY A1 and CANON EOS R3 and Nikon promised that the first big firmware would make it even better.
Finally, that Firmware version 2.0 is here – and it’s been worth the wait. With it, the Nikon Z9 is now be able to record 12-bit, Raw 8.3K 60p video internally. The jump from 10-bit to 12-bit is pretty astonishing, and now the camera will be able to reproduce billions more colors – 68 billion more, to be precise. Nikon is calling its new file output N Raw and the video files are said to be a lot smaller than ProRes Raw, which is excellent news when it comes to transferring and storing footage.
EXCITING NEW WORLD WE LIVE IN:
We live in an amazing world of technology right now. Can you imagine we have come to the day when you buy a new camera, and then there comes new “firmware” and Voila! you have a new camera, without changing the body.
The second impressive video upgrade is that you will now be able to oversample UHD 4K 60P 10-bit footage from 8K footage, which will deliver the highest quality 4K footage. Users will also be able to record ProRes Raw internally up to 4.1K at 60p, so now it’s even easier to record professional, cinematic footage that is faster and easier to edit in post.
NEW IMPROVEMENTS IN PHOTOGRAPHY WITH THIS CAMERA AS WELL:
It’s not just the video specs that have benefited from the upgrade, either. Nikon has been careful not to forget about the camera’s photography capabilities. Users will now be able to set the EVF refresh rate to 120fps, which will make the viewfinder even more life-like. The Z9 also gains a Pre-Release Capture feature so that, when you’re half-pressing the shutter, the camera start shooting buffering the shots for a second before you take the photo.
For those times when you’re shooting odd shapes, objects or scenes, the height and the width of the AF box can now be adjusted, which means you can now focus on a very specific part of the frame – regardless of how big or small your subject is.
NEW FIRMWARE FOR NIKON IS FREE FOR NIKON Z9 USERS:
Nikon has also introduced a brand new computational photography mode called in-camera motion blend. Rather than having to create this effect in Photoshop, the camera will take up to five photos and blend them into one. No longer will you need to mask your subject, the camera will literally do it all for you.
Other upgrades include an optimized burst photo viewing mode, video assist functionality in the form of a waveform monitor and red record box, dedicated video info, fine ISO control and fast AF control is now an assignable custom button option. The auto-exposure and auto white balance settings have been improved, and there is a new focus recall setting.
This firmware upgrade is by far the most extensive and impressive we’ve ever seen from Nikon, if not from any camera brand ever. It’s amazing how much you can change with a firmware update – and even more amazing that all these updates are available for free.
The article above appeared first in DIGITAL CAMERA WORLD, AND AUTHORED BY: Hannah Rooke. A sincer thanks to DCW for this article.
One of the most thrilling parts of photography is MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY! I have learned to love macro photography ever since I stuck some close-up filters on the front of my lens. It brought me to a whole new world.
Taking photos of cutlery is an interesting idea, but, with the proper lighting, and the unique designs found on cutlery, you have a winning idea here.
IDEA # 2 – FEATHERS
This is a fun and interesting idea. We see feathers all the time on the ground, on a tree, or wherever. But have you really looked at them close? They are an amazing subject:
IDEA #3 – WATER DROPLETS:
This one is a classic, but be creative, and find your water on unusual surfaces like a wire fence, a cobweb, or a rear-view mirror. Early morning dew makes almost any subject magical. In the spring or fall, your can look for frost instead of dew.
IDEA #4 – GLASS:
Close up photos of fine crystal glassware can yield wonderful abstracts filled with curved lines and reflections. For added fun, place glasses side by side, or one behind the other to create lines where they overlap. You can fill the glasses with colored water for even more creative images. Finally, you can add a sheet of clear, but textured glass (available for purchase at stained glass craft stores) in front of your glassware. The possibilities are endless.
IDEA #5 – FOIL REFLECTIONS:
Now when I hear about this idea, I thought about this carefully. Why? And then I saw some examples and then asked: Why not? Use a variety of different color lights to enhance your creation.
IDEA # 6- FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:
This is something that could be easy, but, I think it would be more fun, if you “posed” the fruit or vegetables. Don’t just go up to the item and snap, but, pose them like for a still photo.
Fascinating rust patterns can be found on an old car, or even a metal garbage can in the park. Peeling paint graces old fences and walls. Most people pass by such items without a second glance. Not you! Break out your macro lens, and reveal the hidden beauty. Just beware of harsh shadows if you’re photographing in bright sunlight.
IDEA #8 – CAR DETAILS:
The sleek lines of shiny chrome and trim on a polished car can provide hours of photographic entertainment. You can photograph your own car, but don’t be shy about taking your camera to an antique car show. Car owners are usually proud of their vehicles and won’t mind you photographing the details.
IDEA #9 – ANIMAL BITS
The texture of fur on your dog or the wrinkled skin of an elephant at the zoo can make a great close up shot. Paws, claws and teeth are fun, too, as long as you keep out of harm’s way. Finally, eyes always make compelling subjects. Shoot close ups of the eyes of your dog or cat (or a person!).
IDEA #10 – INSECTS
The amazing small world of insects. So unique when you get up close. They could even look scary if you got close enough. Try this:
Minimalist photography seems to be an art that has taken off lately. And I am one that really likes this type of photography. This is a simple photo to do, as well as very attractive to those looking at the photo.
What is minimalist photography, and how can you capture stunning minimalist photos?
Minimalism is a popular artistic technique, and it’s a great way to spice up your images. (It’s also a good way to generate lots of attention on social media.) But beginners often struggle to get to grips with minimalism, which is where this article comes in handy.
WHAT IS MINIMALIST PHOTOGRAPHY?
Minimalist photography, also known as minimalism photography, is a type of image-making that relies on simplistic compositions, heavy use of empty space, and elimination of clutter.
Thanks to their simplicity, minimalistic photos often have a characteristically meditative effect:
Note that minimalist photos generally feature some form of main subject (e.g., the boat in the image above). But subject presence is kept to a minimum; here, minimalist photographers often zoom out for a small-in-the-frame subject surrounded by empty space.
Some photographers are pure minimalists, choosing to capture images that are as simple as possible (e.g., a single tree surrounded by white snow). But other photographers incorporate minimalistic elements into their work alongside non-minimalistic elements. Either approach is fine – just do what feels right!
Key elements of minimalist photography:
Minimalism can be applied to pretty much every genre of photography, including portrait, landscape, still life, architecture, and even street shooting. But minimalist photos do have a few key characteristics:
Negative space. Minimalist photos tend to feature lots of empty, or negative, space. Negative space is composed of expanses of pure color or texture, such as a broad stretch of ocean or a grassy lawn. (And featureless white skies are a minimalist staple!)
A small main subject. Minimalist compositions keep the subject small in the frame so that they’re dwarfed by negative space. As I discuss below, this can be done with a wide-angle lens or by shooting from a distance. In cases where the main subject isn’t small in the frame, it should be exceptionally simple (e.g., a few streaks of paint on a wall).
Limited clutter. Minimalism emphasizes simplicity, and minimalist photos tend to feature a main subject, lots of empty space, and nothing else. Minimalist photographers carefully refine their compositions until no extra elements – such as poles or telephone lines in the background – exist. The more clutter you can eliminate from your shots, the more minimalist they’ll be.
If you like, you can look at the above list as a recipe for minimalist photos. As long as you include all three items, you’ll end up with a decent minimalist shot – and as you become more familiar with minimalist compositions, your results will become more and more powerful.
TIPS TO WATCH FOR WHEN SHOOTING MINIMALIST PHOTOS:
As I have been looking at photos that I think are the best minimalist photos, I was surprised to find out that most people follow these rules:
A wide field of view
Plenty of distance between yourself and your subject
ONE THING PHOTOGRAPHERS MISS IN MINIMALISM:
The rules of composition are often missed in minimalist photos. I went through quite a few photos where the subject was right in the middle of the frame. I found no artistic value to this, mostly because it is just so much static to a photo when the subject is right in the middle. PLEASE! use the RULE OF THIRDS, when taking photos with minimalism. See: https://123photogo.com/2021/11/12/rules-of-photography/
Another meaning for minimalist photography is “Negative Space”. As you will notice the one thing that you need to accomplish the minimalism, is to find a lot of space around the subject. I have put an article like that together already. Check this out: https://123photogo.com/2021/11/01/understanding-negative-space/
Here are just a few photos I have found that bring out the best ideas in Minimalist photography:
This blog today is part 3 of a 3 part series: HOW TO MAXIMIZE IMAGE QUALITY IN YOUR PHOTOS. This was originally presented by SPENCER COX FROM “PHOTOGRAPHIC LIFE”. I want to thank Spencer for the use of this article, and the great insight into how to make our photos sharper, and better detailed than ever.
6. Post-Processing Workflow
In terms of editing your photos, one of the key components of image quality is to work with image files that are lossless. In photography, this largely means the original RAW file, DNGs, or TIFFs.
If you’re ever doing a lot of edits to a JPEG file – whether directly (like Photoshop) or indirectly (like Lightroom) – you’re setting yourself up for trouble. A JPEG on its own looks good, but starts to produce some serious blocky artifacts when pushed around in post.
Along the same lines, make sure that you’re always editing in a large color space that won’t clip any highly saturated colors – something like ProPhoto RGB or similar. (I highly recommend our sRGB vs Adobe RGB vs ProPhoto RGB article if you aren’t familiar with color spaces.) On top of that, be sure to edit 16 bit-per-channel images rather than clipping them down to 8 bit.
Essentially, this means that if you export a photo from Lightroom/other software into Photoshop/other software, you should be working with 16-bit ProPhoto TIFF files the whole way. With a lower 8-bit image, you’ll risk banding in gradient regions. With a smaller color space, like sRGB, you’ll permanently clip certain colors in your image. And with a lossy format like JPEG, you’ll risk serious compression artifacts.
Of course, you should never let a ProPhoto image of any kind out into the wild unless the sole recipient is another photographer. Same with 16-bit TIFFs just because they’re such large files. This is solely about optimizing your workflow to avoid throwing away data in your photos without realizing it. There’s a separate process in a moment for the export side of things.
Other than that? Feel free to process images however you want. Editing images is a really subjective, artistic part of photography, perhaps just as much as the field side of things.
Oh, and calibrate your monitor. I’m sure you’ve already done it, but if not, that’s essential to editing the colors you mean to edit.
7. Optimizing for the Output Medium
Now that you’ve set up your post-processing workflow to maximize image quality, let’s take a look at the proper steps for printing your photo or otherwise outputting it as well as possible.
The two major steps here are sharpening (including noise reduction) and converting to the right color profile. I’ll start with sharpening.
7.1. Optimal Sharpening and Noise Reduction
There are many different philosophies on the optimal sharpness settings in post-production. I (mostly) won’t go into the exact slider values that work best, because there really isn’t just one set. Instead, proper sharpening is about following the three-stage method:
Deconvolution sharpening: Light to moderate sharpening across the image, with a very small radius and a low masking/threshold value. Also, light to moderate noise reduction – both color and luminance – evenly across the image in proportion to the amount of noise in the photo.
Local sharpening: More aggressive sharpening to important, high-detail parts of the photo, like feathers or eyes on a wildlife subject. Also, more aggressive noise reduction to large, empty areas.
Output sharpening: Anywhere from zero to aggressive sharpening evenly across the image to counteract texture in the output medium, like a matte print.
The deconvolution stage is the most important. In Lightroom, for a 45-megapixel sensor without an AA filter, my default is 33 sharpening, 0.5 radius, 100 detail, 13 masking. Combined with 10 luminance and 10 color noise reduction.
That said, it’s best to figure out your preferred settings through trial and error. This is especially true for output sharpening, which varies wildly based on the medium – including digital or print – as well as the physical dimensions of your output.
7.2. Color Profile Conversion
Last, but not least, is converting your working image to the proper color profile (and file type).
For web, this is easy: sRGB JPEG, pretty much 100% of the time. Anything other than sRGB is likely to create really strange colors for at least some users out there (those with outdated browsers, mainly) – and anything other than JPEG is likely to take up too much space.
For print, it’s a bit trickier. The most ideal method is to find the exact color space of your ink/paper combo – either through measuring for yourself or downloading ICC profiles online – and then soft proof your image in post-processing using that color space.
(Soft proofing means “previewing” how the print will look, to the best of your monitor and software’s capabilities. Lightroom, Photoshop, and most other post-processing options today allow this.)
Then, export a 16-bit TIFF with the ink/paper combo’s ICC profile. Lightroom doesn’t let you directly do this, however, so you will need to do the intermediate step of exporting a 16-bit TIFF in ProPhoto, then opening in Photoshop or other software and converting that to your ICC profile. Again, there’s more info in our color space article.
That’s a few steps, no doubt. But if you send the print lab an sRGB file, or even an Adobe RGB file, you’re potentially throwing out some important color details (especially in darker, more saturated areas).
If you want a simpler method – though one which likely clips some colors – just send a lab of your choice a photo exported to their specifications (usually sRGB, though some allow AdobeRGB and an elite few allow ProPhoto). Then, select the lab’s “color correction” option if they have one, where they’ll basically do the steps above for you.
It’s the easiest way to get colors that match your monitor, with the least that can go wrong. It’s why I recommend it to most photographers, especially at first. However, there certainly are subtle color benefits of the hands-on method I covered above. And when you’ve already gone through this entire article… well, you’re probably after all the quality you can get.
The information above dives pretty deep into image quality, and I think it’s useful for photographers to have a goal to strive for. At the end of the day, though, these are not the most important parts of photography. A high-quality image is a whole lot better than high technical image quality.
So, before you go out and follow all these tips to the letter, make sure you’ve really mastered the basics. Light, composition, basic exposure settings, and everyday post-processing – all that is more important.
Once you’ve gotten a hang of it, then it’s a good time to dive deeper. Try out some of these techniques for yourself, and figure out which ones are easy to incorporate into your day-to-day work. It’s worth doing.
Why? Simple: To me, photographers should aim for the best possible result for every photo. No, you won’t always have time to get everything perfect. And sure, some scenes are tricky to photograph, and it’s smart to build in leeway even at the expense of image quality. But if you can aim for the best – you should.
I hope you found the explanations in this article useful for achieving that goal.