How I edit my images

After publishing my post about how I shoot my bird photos, I thought it would be nice to do a follow-up about how I finish up, or editing my images for final publishing.  Believe it or not, regardless of what you have heard or read, cameras DO lie.  When a RAW image comes from the camera, it often looks flat, without that snap. and with bland colors.

I am going to show you how I obtained a beautiful photo of a Northern Bobwhite.  It began when I was driving through San Angelo State Park, and spotted some of these quail in a fallen tree about 50 yards away.  This is the original photo from my Canon DOS 7D Mark II with a Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Northern Bobwhite on tree branch

Northern Bobwhite on tree branch

It was early morning, there was broken shade and the subject was partially back-lit, the light coming slightly from the left.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec @ f7.1 with an ISO 1000.  I added one stop of EV adjustment to ensure enough light on the subject bird, the one in the center of the frame.  It was too far away to zoom in any closer. I had the lens maxed out at 600mm.

Now I am going to tell about how I do my editing.  First, no, it is not an old family recipe handed down.  It may not be the best method, but it is what works for me.

I have been told that I am pretty unorthodox with my editing.  I just like to keep things simple, and not have to do anything complicated.  The first thing I do is to load my images into a program called FastStone Image Viewer.  I like that little (free) program.  It is, for me, a great place to put my image files.  Great for organizing, and most of all, I can convert my RAW files there.

So after loading the images from my camera, I then convert the RAW file to the JPEG image that you see above.  After conversion, I save that JPEG file to a folder in FastStone Image Viewer.  I told you that I liked that organizer.  Now unlike a lot of photographer that use Lightroom,  I use Photoshop 5, having gotten it at half-price several years ago, when the dropped the price when Photoshop 6 came out.

After opening a file in Photoshop, my first step in my workflow is to check it out using the Shadows and Highlights tool, making any minor lighting adjustments there.  Then I like to use the Curves adjustment tool to tweak the exposure more, for contrast, etc.  I have another plug-in, Topaz DNoise, and excellent tool for removing any visible noise.  After that, it is time to check out the focus, and tweak the sharpness, if necessary.   Personally, I don’t like Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask. I use a plug-in called FocusMagic.  It gives a photo a pleasing natural sharpness.

After doing all of that, which usually takes me only a few minutes, here is my finished product.  Do you like it?  Click the image.

Northern Bobwhite - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV adjustment, ISO 1000.

Northern Bobwhite – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV adjustment, ISO 1000.

Now, that looks like the Northern Bobwhite I saw when I drove by that broken down tree.  Click the image, and the one above, to see enlargements that show more detail.

So now you have it.  You know what tools I use.  It will only take you to learn how to use them.  In other words, I teach you all you know.  I don’t teach you all I know.   Now as the photo doctor said, “If you have a problem, take two pictures and call me in the morning”.

10 thoughts on “How I edit my images

  1. Thanks for sharing your process. I just downloaded topaz de-noise so I’m glad to hear this is something you use as well. I’m just starting to learn how it works.

    • Thanks you, Sherry. To answer your question, I will say that I have used this method for many years, and have proffited much monetarily. It works for me and I am not saying that everybody should use it. I did say that I am very unorthodox. But I must disagree with you on the quality loss. In the photo above, you, yourself said it is a great finished product. There is no loss there that I know of. It takes many saves and re-saves for a jpg file to show any visible loss. Once I am finished, there is really no need to ever save or re-save it again anyway. But, I do thank you for giving me your opinion. You are not the first to recommend other methods.

      • I agree that saving a jpg over it just once is doable. I like to do minimal work to the RAW file in Lightroom, then go yo Photoshop and save the final as a jpg. One teacher showed how Lightroom can be dangerous to use too much as the image can start to gather artifacts if overworked there.

        • I didn’t mention in my article that I can, if I want, do some minimal work in FastStone, before I convert the RAW file there. I have never liked Lightroom, possibly because I am 82 and i hate to learn new tricks. 🙂

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