New Softwares and Workflows

Lately I've been obsessed with trying to learn different software and figure out how to get certain looks out of my photos. It drives me nuts when there is a look I want but don't know how to achieve. And sometimes the only way to get it is to paint the hell out of it in Photoshop. But last night I think I figured out a few things I've been wanting to do for awhile. I got this program called Topaz Detail 2. What this does is it sort of sharpens the image. But it's not like your traditional sharping. It actually takes features of the photo and sharpens them. It's like it looks at all the shapes and colors of the photo and views them as a topographical map. Then there are a bunch of options that let you increase and decrease the elevation. So you can have things really punch out at you, and you can really use it to define the edges of objects like the cliff face in the photo below.

So far my workflow has been something like this:

-Import into Lightroom, adjust some basic settings like lens correction and chromatic aberrations. 

-Import into Color Efex Pro where I add the filter, Detail Enhancer set to Fine, Normal or Large depending the photo, usually at about 20-40%. Then I use Sunlight to give it a slight yellowish glow. And lastly Low Key. This just punches the whole contrast of the image and brings out the color and contrast.

-Back in Lightroom I take this image and do more color adjustments. Bring out highlighted features or bringing up my shadows. Sometimes removing color cast or creative color adjustments. Also using some local brushes to enhance some features. So in a shot like this I can accent the cliff with a little yellow or orange to make some of the features pop more.

-Then depending if I like the image or not, I'll bring it into Photoshop. In Photoshop I can really change the colors significantly. How I've been doing this is adding color to a blank layer with a brush, then Adjusting the layer options to Overlay or Soft light, until I get the desired golden brown color I want to enhance my trees or even create some glow. 

-Then I add final sharpens and grain removal in Lightroom. But, if I'm not happy with the sharpness I use the program Topaz Detail 2 and really bring out the features. This sometimes changes the colors slightly so I'll bring it back into Lightroom and do final minor tweaks and export. 

And of course after doing all that I try to leave the photo alone for a few hours or over night. Since you're perspective is so jaded after staring at something for a few hours straight, it's good to have some time away. That way when you come back you can usually see immediately what's wrong with your photo. It's also good to look at the photo in different lighting conditions as our eyes see our computer monitors differently depending on the ambient light that's around us. So sometimes when looking at a photo in the pitch black night of our living room it might feel too saturation or the cast might seem perfect, but then in the morning when the blue sunlight pours into our living room our perspective of the photo can change and suddenly it will feel as though it lacks contrast or saturation.

Today's Photo of Yosemite's Bridal Falls

Last March I went to Yosemite. I've only been to Yosemite once but I think march is a really good time to go. The water falls are very full and there is still some snow up at the higher elevations.

Yosemite's Bridal Falls