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Old Nov 28, 2005, 1:13 AM   #11
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Terry, either I'm missunderstanding you or you've got some problems. Having seen each other post here for a long time, I think we can safely say I'm missunderstanding you.

I mostly agree with Eric except some of those adjustments, like sharpening and contrast adjustments, your going to get more control and a better result adjusting the RAW image before outputing to JPEG.
What do you mean by "adjusting the RAW image"? Do you mean changing settings that effect RAW conversion? Or do you mean adjusting the resulting image that you got after converting a RAW file? I mean the later. While I do do contrast adjustments and sharpening that are applied during RAW conversion, I only do some then. Most of my sharpening and contrast adjustments are done after conversion. I'll completely disagree with you if you mean "yes" to my first question. I guarrenty you that I don't get "more control and better results" when I do those things during RAW conversion.

I think Photoshop can work directly with RAW filesbut I'm no photoshop guru.
Nothing can work "directly" with a RAW file. All RAW files my be translated into another format before editing. Photoshop can do that conversion its self, but it has to convert it like everybody else. (In fact, it uses software given to them by the camera maker... so it yields exactly the same results as the software supplied by the camera maker.)

I usually cut my photos to JPEG as the last process, resizing them and picking the amount of compression to get the desired output file size.
We are in total agreement. I save it once (to .psd with a different name) once I've done almost all my editing to the full sized image. In case I need to go back to it. Then I crop/resize, sharpen, and save to jpg (if its for the web) or save to .psd (with a different name again) if it's for print.

There is post processing I can do on JPEGs that I can't do on a RAW file because of the limits of my software, so once in a long while I willdo more processing on the JPEG, but not usually.
This makes almost no sense to me. I'm a software designer, so I view statements like this through that lens. Once you load the image in (either via JPG or converting a RAW) your editor doesn't care how it got there... and it shouldn't. The only difference will probably be that the JPG will produce an 8-bit image (JPG can only store in 8-bit) and RAW can produce either 8-bit or 16-bit images. Some editors can't do certain things to 16-bit images that they can do to 8-bit. That is the only difference. I am very interested in what editor you use and what you can't do to a RAW produced image that you can do to a JPG. I bet if you just reduce your image to 8-bit you'll be able to do those things too.

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Old Nov 28, 2005, 9:52 AM   #12
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There's a bit more to this than meets the eye... I'm going toneed a bit of time to sort it all out in my head! But there are a couple of points I'd like to throw in...

I tend to save (as .psd, because I use photoshop) throughout the process. I might end up with 10 or 11 different versions of the same image, sequentially numbered, from when I started, to the point I end at. The reason for this is because I live out in the wilds a bit (what passes for 'wild' in the UK, at least) and we get regular power outages - usually only a few seconds, but enough to cause a problem. Doing this, I feel confident that all will not be lost if the lights go out...

I never work with jpegs. If I start with a jpeg, I immediately stick it in photoshop and make a backup as .psd. I'm not convinced this is the best route to take - there seem to be any number of different file-formats photoshop will save to. I have no idea which is best, but .psd is convenient. My final image for printing is .psd.

I'm only just beginning to explore the wonderful world of RAW, but it sounds like it adds a whole new layer of complication to the mix!

But your comments are beginning to come together... I've now got noise removal first (but after raw conversion) and cropping followed by sharpening last (unless the brightness or contrast need final adjustment). Or, if I'm using some serious painting effects (and I do, often), then crop followed by effect last. Everything else happens in the middle, preferably non-destructively... How much easier can it be???:lol:

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Old Nov 28, 2005, 10:10 AM   #13
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Eric, isn't that new software from Apple does all pp in RAW and it is non-destructive? I haven't played with it so only saying it from reading the headlines.

In my case, I shoot in RAW, convert it to jpeg (8-bit) using C1LE with Magne profiles. Then in PS7 or PS elements 3, I would crop, adjust levels, contrast, saturation and then sharpen based on my print size. The resize (for web or prints) comes before sharpening. Reason I crop first is that I mostly shoot birds and with my 400mm I rarely get frame filling shots.

I would recommend original poster to download RAW shooter Essential andplay with it.
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 12:48 PM   #14
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I haven't looked at Aperture (Apple's new product.) But it they claim to let you edit the RAW, then they are being fast and loose with their words. You can't edit the RAW directly. Heck, the white balance hasn't even been applied to it yet, how do you edit without white balance data? You have to convert the RAW into an internal format before the users edits can be made. Some are made during that conversion, but many, many more things can't be.

When convertion with C1LE, why not convert to 16-bit TIFF? I would assume that C1LE could do that.

it sounds like you've got it.
Saving as often as you do makes perfect sense to me. Nothing wrong with that. Also, there is nothing wrong with using PS's own .psd format for your files. There are bad formats to save your intermediate-work in (like JPG) but there is no "perfect" format.

RAW has some huge benefits, but it does had some more work and a bit of complexity. I find its worth it, but others don't. It depends on your nature on how much effort/complexity you're willing to accept to gain some extra quality.

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Old Nov 28, 2005, 1:06 PM   #15
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Great topic guys! Shambles, iff I could offer a little advice on some great books to get you going...

Real World Camera Raw by Bruce Fraser

Photoshop CS2 Workflow by Tim Grey

These two books will give you a big step up on most of your questions and are a great starting point for RAW and establishing a solid workflow IMHO.

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Old Nov 28, 2005, 3:42 PM   #16
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My first step with any image taken with a small sensor non-DSLR is defogging with a large radius and small amount in unsharp mask. Occasionally I don't like the result and go back a step in the history, but it usually adds snap to the image and I want all of the subsequent steps based on the defogging if I decide to keep it. I also want to take out any barrel distortion, so I have an action that applies defogging and PT Lens.

I crop next unless the image is too dark or poor to make decent decisions. With most images there is as much information available to make cropping decisions as after all of the tweaking. Everything goes faster with the cropped image. And you are less likely to run out of RAM and go into the super slow lane writing to the scratch disk after a lot of operations and lots of history. I don't usually upsample early for the same reasons. I don't find an upsample changes the noise reduction I've already done, and it is faster after a crop and before an upsample.

My next step is to try Auto-Levels. It is a lot more sophisticated than Auto-Contrast, which just works with the luminance. I often go back a step in the history because I don't like what it does, but Auto-Levels can do a nice job as it seems to work in the individual channels and obviates a lot of work in levels or curves.

Next I use Shadow/Highlight if something in the image is too dark. You should do that before noise reduction as it increases the noise in the shadows it brings up.

Avoid the Contrast and Brightness controls. They just move the white and black points the same distance and that is seldom what you want to do. Photoshop help says it is not for advanced image editing, which is a gentle way of telling you to avoid it. I often go to Selective Color as it can subtly alter the colors as well as the brightness and contrast.

The "other stuff" possibilities are almost infinite, but I usually do them before noise reduction, sharpening and upsample.

Noise reduction, sharpening and resample are interrelated enough I don't have an absolute rule, but they come last. If I use a sophisticated noise reduction where I find the edges, invert and then do a little noise reduction followed by selections and noise reduction of specific areas, then I sharpen first. If I just shotgun the noise reduction I do it before the sharpening. Sharpening affects the noise, but if you are sophisticated enough in your noise reduction it isn't as big a factor and you can sharpen before the noise reduction.

If I use a simple upsample like bicubic or Lanczos then I do that last. If I use something more sophisticated like stepped interpolation (SI) or Genuine Fractals I do the upsample before sharpening as it adds subtle sharpening artifacts that have to be accounted for in the sharpening.

Many things you do in image editing affect the noise. You can't make good decisions IMO until you have done most of the image editing. I guess it doesn't make a big difference if you are just going to shotgun the noise reduction with a stand-alone program. That softens the entire image and you need some sharpening afterward to account for the noise reduction. But even if you are going to shotgun the noise reduction you can't make good decisions until after you have brought out your shadows, defogged, done levels and curves etc.

Make sure to have Photoshop set to take a good chunk of the available RAM. I give it 85% with a Gig of RAM. Remember it is taking that RAM from what isn't already being used, so you won't starve the computer. The only reason I leave the 15% is so the scanner doesn't slow by writing to virtual memory. Also close everything you don't need before opening Photoshop.

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Old Nov 29, 2005, 6:12 AM   #17
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Contentious opinion, Slipe! Brave man...

Some of your reasoning matches my previous views - especially the idea of cropping early to make later processes run more smoothly.But I have to admit that I am now at a complete loss - there's some conflict here.Not everypiece of advice in this threadcan be right! Noise-reduction, for example. Most people so far say do that first. But you say not - and I have no reason to question that, any more than anything else that's been said by anyone else.

So what do I do? (Apart from trying every combinationwith the same image to actually see what works best - I simply don't have the time...) :?
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Old Nov 29, 2005, 11:04 AM   #18
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hambles wrote:
Contentious opinion, Slipe! Brave man..
According to the Noise Ninja FAQ:

"Q: Where should Noise Ninja be used in the workflow?

It is usually best to apply noise reduction as early as is practical in the workflow. Post-processing adjustments like sharpening, contrast stretching, and color balancing can alter pixel values and noise levels in unpredictable ways. Depending on the amount of adjustment, this can make it more difficult for Noise Ninja to estimate noise levels. Sharpening, for instance, is a nonlinear operation that can significantly distort the distribution of noise values.

If your workflow requires that you use Noise Ninja after some other operations, then try to create noise profiles using calibration images that have been put through the same operations.

The Neatimage site says basically the same, namely, NR first, or at least, if it's done after other processes, the profile used should also be created with the same processes applied to it:

"Q: Is processing via Neat Image best done before or after any other processing (i.e., tonal/color correction)?

Such operations as tonal/color correction are quite conservative. Therefore, to filter before or after makes little difference - as long as the device noise profile is built and applied at the same stage of image processing. For example, don't use a device noise profile built with an unprocessed image to filter a processed image.
Remember that some digital cameras apply some color correction internally. Other cameras allow access to unprocessed RAW data. Neat Image is a generic filter, which can be applied in both cases. The only requirement is to use matching profiles.
On the other hand, image sharpening applied to a noisy image makes it much more noisy. It is best to apply Neat Image filtration before sharpening (including internal camera sharpening). However, the sharpening and noise filters of Neat Image can be used together since the sharpening is applied AFTER noise filtration."

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Old Nov 29, 2005, 11:14 AM   #19
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I used to spend ages in PS, but now I've got it down to about 5m for most images.

The reason is I've adopted DxO optics. They basically profile your camera and lenses and have a set of standard transformations to apply, including sharpening for the specific combo.

It has a very good RAW converter.

I have found that basically I can't improve manually on the results I get with DxO. I always do a levels adjustment and final sharpening depending on what output format I'm using, and of course the subject. I hardly ever sharpen portraits for example.

So my workflow is:

1. Download RAW files from camera.
2. Select "keepers" and put into separate directory.
3. Run DxO optics over the keepers.
4. Open in PS, adjust Levels. Then tweak contrast - my understanding is that the Contrast tool is very blunt, the Levels tool is much better, but if you want full control you should use Curves. In practice I can get the results I want from Levels plus occasionally a slight additional adjustment in the Contrast tool.
5. Crop.
6. Creative sharpening - e.g. eyes.
7. Save the image -> this point becomes the final saved image.
8. Run Noise reduction (I use NeatImage) if required, but DxO is so good that I only get a benefit if I'm using ISO3200, before DxO I would use it from ISO400+.
9. Resize for output.
10. Apply final sharpening.

I will not usually save after steps 8-10 as they are all very dependent on what kind of output I'm going for, and if I ever go back to an image months later I will want to do those final steps again.

A word on sharpening - I use the Photokit Sharpener plugin, this is a set of PS actions that divide sharpening into 3 phases:
1. Capture - the first thing you do after opening the image.
2. Creative - special sharpening brushes to use selectively on parts of the image.
3. Output - the last thing you do before printing. It has special sharpening techniques adapted for different types and resolutions and output. e.g. the sharpening for an 800x600 web graphic is very different to that required for a 300dpi Inkjet print.

There is a review at luminous landscape.

After using DxO however I find I no longer need to do any capture shapening, it's done much better by DxO. So I just do creative and output sharpening.
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Old Nov 29, 2005, 12:40 PM   #20
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Ah, I see you're problem. You're under the delusion that there is a "right way" to do post processing! (you can't see the smile on my face while I say that.)

There is no "right way" on the way that people do it. Many do it in similar ways, for their own reasons.

I have lots of RAM (1G), and I am very critical about removing things from the history pallet when I don't like the results. This means that I don't waste a lot of RAM on things that don't actually contribute to the image. The result of this is that I don't have to crop early on to save memory and make processing faster. (I also have a reasonable fast PC. 2000+ Athlon XP.) My system is fast enough (I wish it were faster) and it gives me creative freedom to crop in different ways later. Here is prime example where this saved me.

I sold an image of a King Fisher. They liked the image, but they wanted an 11x14 print. I did it as 8x10 for myself, so I had that image saved. But I couldn't just enlarge it as the ratio is different. So I went back to my uncropped image edited master (which had almost all of my adjustments already made) and cropped it to the proper aspect ratio to fit an 11x14 print and then enlarged it. If I had cropped it early on and then done my edits I would not have been able to reuse my work and the image would not have looked the same (contrast/color/saturation/brightness/...) as the image I had shown them online.

See the benefit? To me, that is worth not editing the cropped image. I would rather do my edits on the full image as much as possible eventhough it slows me down. Because it can save me later.

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