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Everyone loves seeing before and afters. Me included! But I don't want this to be just a show and tell. My goal is that this is a place for us to learn. 

Editing is such a complex subject and we are all at such different levels of experience. I think it's best to learn by doing. So if you share and ask questions and are open to constructive criticism I think it could be a fun month!

This month's assignment: 
Show a before and after.

1. The before should be the straight out-of-camera, uncropped, unadjusted image.

2. The after is your final image.

3. Explain your process. PLEASE DON'T IGNORE THIS STEP.  If you had problems or are struggling with something, I will help you. If you want to share a tip that you use in editing all the time, or explain the process you go through, that's great and we can all learn.

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My favorite quick trick (I'm doing it in lightroom but it can be done just as easily in adobe camera raw with raw files --please tell me you are all shooting raw--or even with jpgs)

This is good for basic editing, or when you aren't sure what a photo needs. Go into ACR and hit auto for the white balance and the basics. 

this is the straight out of camera. It was a foggy hazy light and even though the histogram was good the image is flat:


And this is hitting the auto buttons on everything.

Honestly the auto button usually does a better job, but I wanted to show this because it's not perfect. So I look at the histogram and compare that to the scene. The beach should be more light and airy. So first the white balance. I know the sand is a beige so I use the white balance eye dropper to select the sand and then slide it towards the yellow a little. Then it's too dark. The shadows need to be lifted. So I fine tune the image. I end up here:
After that I finessed a few other things in lightroom with some of the custom brushes. Sharpened the image. And this is the final image all done in lightroom. 

Great editing lesson and wonderful final image!!

Thanks. I want to push this a little further. And I will in the next day or so and post.

Thanks for this lesson.  I am going to start using this trick immediately.  Never even thought to do that.

Wow...great example of how you do your editing. My friend leaves to go home tomorrow and then back to business.

I'm going to add small editing tips in the comments of this discussion throughout the month. Feel free to comment or add your own.

Here is one I mentioned before but it's worth repeating.

The default interface for lightroom and photoshop is dark gray. I do think it makes the images pop on screen, but for editing purposes I prefer a light gray or white background (I should add that if the image is really dark and you are trying to get a true black, then a black background is recommended). 

Here is an image. the image is the same only the background has changed. 

On the black background if not paying attention to the histogram I would think it looks okay. But on the white background it is pretty obvious that the image looks a little muddy. 

So if you select the preferences tab in the program, and then select the interface, you can change the background color to light gray or white or any custom color. Its easy to do and undue. This is most helpful in editing snow pictures. It also helps you to see any color cast that might be present in the lighter values.

And here would be the final image. (I know, not a doodle, but I was at the park last weekend and this dog just showed up in my viewfinder.)

Beautiful dog, even if it isn't a doodle!

Thanks!

I really like how this turned out against a white sky background.  Many of my photos looked washed out when I have this type of background.  Yours looks "alive".

All your examples are great Nancy. 

 

Here is a before and after of Chance.  I do all of my editing in Photoshop, but friends have told me that many of the tools I use are also in Lightroom.

Before

 This was taken during the golden hour and I used a flash in an attempt to avoid deep shadows on Chance.  It didn't quite work!  I blew out part of the sky and some serious shadows remained in the eyes, on the collar, and on part of the muzzle.

I brought the image into camera raw and applied highlight and shadow adjustments. I drew down the whites a bit, and used the dehaze tool to bring in some contrast.  Next I applied the "lens correction" tool.

I wanted to create more contrast, but only selectively mainly to the midtones, and used a luminosity mask to do so.  

Because this was a golden hour image, I wanted to bring out the yellow/gold highlights.  I did this by using the "color balance" tool, and then "dehazed" the image just a bit more and added just a bit of vibrancy.  Maybe a bit too much, but he really does glow in golden hour light.

The final steps included lots of cloning--I took the collar and leash out, and the dark shadow on the tongue.  I added contrast and sharpening to the eyes, but really couldn't do much with them since I basically only got catchlights.  Then I cropped the image as a rule of thirds 11 x 8.5.

This is lovely and thanks for sharing. Great job on the face and love that tongue. I might have left the top white. I don't mind if it's totally blown out. but that's me as you can tell from my photo above. 

We should have a demonstration on the luminosity mask. It's a great tool to know about. I will see if I can find an article about it online and add it in the comments.

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