OK now we are ready to take the next step in our workflow (and remove these very average photos from the top of my blog page 😐 ). Basically, when choosing the keepers, some of them need (quite a bit of) touch up, just to get a feel for their potential. This should be a 5 mins per picture job with simple tasks like:
- straighten up the horizon
- touching up the color curves
- rough conversion to Black and White
I found The Gimp to be ideal for this type of quick work – although the output is not perfect (due to the 8bits/channel limitation) it is good enough to get a feel for the image potential. And The Gimp is good a offering previews of filters (like unsharp mask) and operations (like a rotation) to evaluate the result before making the calculations on the file itself – so perfect for a quick processing. In the same vein, your image viewer should have a way to “open with The Gimp” (that’s what gThumb offers, anyway), so you don’t have to muddle through your folders to find the image you want to work on.
By the way, I generally save theses quickly processed files in my _keepers folder, naming them “z_NameOfThePicture.tif”, so they are all in the same place (at the end of the folder).
We will go in details about the different operations of post-processing (and their order) another time. For now, let’s just go back to a couple of the pictures from our keepers and see what comes out of them after a quick and dirty post-processing:
These are my favorite ducks passing by in the tree reflection on water. I had to somehow crop out the ugly top part of the picture and I decided to go “all the way” and turn the image into a square format. I gave a good (read: far too much) saturation punch (via curves color, more on that later) as well as local contrast enhancement (via unsharp mask – we will talk about that tool at length later as well). So that gives an idea that there is potential that can be revealed in that picture, but I would not have that image hanging on my wall everyday… in other words, not a portfolio.
These are my backlight trees. The operations were almost the same as for the ducks: enhance saturation via curves, add local contrast (unsharp mask) but no cropping. I also removed a tad of blue in the darker parts of the picture (using the curves menu). All in all, this image is not a portfolio grade one but it has something which I like (the yellow and dark tints, the shape of the trees…). So it will be our model for the next step of “careful postprocessing”.
In order to do that, we will be using Ufraw (not from the command line, this time) and Cinepaint. With the goal of producing an image file of the highest quality, ready for printing. Starting from a RAW image file, using color management and a 16bits/channel processing. And all of that on Linux 🙂