A little while ago Kiki asked me about the post processing of the image below which I took at a flea market in Amsterdam. I love it when the visitors of my website ask me questions, and I enjoy answering them. In this post I will explain how I achieved the effect in this photo.
The most notable adjustment in the image above, is the tone of black and white. The whites are very bright, the blacks are very dark. But there is more. It is almost as if the number of black tints is limited. This is done by the Tone Curve, one of the most powerful tools in post processing used to boost and reduce contrast in different light regions.
During post processing in Lightroom, go to the Tone Curve option in the right side of the screen. Move the sliders and see how they impact the photo.
Now click on the graphics icon in the right bottom corner of the Tone Curve panel (1). Click anywhere on the diagonal line to lock it (2). Whatever you change now, this point is locked. For the effect in the photo of the boots click somewhere on the left bottom, on approximately a quarter of the line. The left bottom corner is for changing the dark tones, while the right top corner is to alter the highlights of the photo. Now click at the beginning of the line in the left bottom corner, hold it and drag it up (3). Go as far as needed for the desired effect.
In my opinion, the best way to learn is to try. So click and drag every single item in your photo editing software, and see how it affects your photo.
A second example is the picture of Luvo. For this example I’ll go deeper in to details. My first step in Lightroom always is to enable Lens Corrections. This takes care of the most common issues for your lens (distortion, vignette, and chromatic aberration).
Then I start with editing the basics. For this portrait of our new puppy, I wanted to emphasize the light tones of the dog. I never touch the saturation, the results seem very unnatural to me.
After adjusting the basic settings, I usually punch the tones by slightly changing the Tone Curve Sliders. I am very careful with this, as changing too much reduces quality of the photo.
Now click on the chart icon on the bottom (1). Lock a position near the left bottom corner to change the dark tones (2). By dragging the end of the line up, I reduced the darkness of the black tones (3).
The final touches to a photo are done by minor alterations. For example, I use the brush to whiten teeth and brighten eyes. The eyes are most important in a portrait, so they deserve most attention.
My final steps are adding sharpness in Photoshop. Open the image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer.
Now go to the Filter menu and choose for Other -> High Pass. This is the most natural way to enhance sharpness in a photo.
Enter a value between 1 and 3. A higher number will emphasize lines more than any lower number.
Do not be afraid that the photo is messed up now. There is one more step to turn the grey layer into a sharp photo. Select the grey layer and change the layer mode to “Overlay”.
My final steps are always to play with the settings of the Brightness, Levels, Curves, Exposure, and Vibrance. Do this by selecting the original layer, and choose any of the Adjustment options in the Image menu.
The result is the image below.
I hope these tips are useful for you! What is your flow during post processing? I look forward to your comments below!