Behind the Scenes ~ Post Processing ~ Lake County, IL Photographer

February 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Did you ever wonder why it takes up to two weeks to process your photos and send them back to you? Here's an example of what happens behind the scenes, after your photo shoot is complete.

I'll use this photo from our recent Disney Cruise (yes, it was AMAZING and yes, we put down a deposit to do it again next year!!) 

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Now this picture has a bit more post processing than I would normally need. I try really hard to get the image as close to perfect as possible in camera (during the photo shoot). However, I had to quickly hand my camera over to a Cast Member (how cool is that - not an employee or staff, they are "Cast Members"!!) to get the shot and I had no chance to adjust the settings. 

First I made some adjustments based on the lens I was using - it's a subtle change. 

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You'll notice less curvature in the outer edges of the image. This is subtle and would be easier to see if the picture was zoomed in tight on the subject. Here, you can see it in the upper left corner how the edge of the background has been straightened out. 

Next up was the crop: 

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On this image, I cropped a bit tighter, taking out some of the background and centering us in the image. During a photo shoot, I might use those cross hairs a bit more and make a more creative image. This is using the "Rule of Thirds," which, in photography speak, means the images are more appealing to our eyes when the subject lines up to one of those cross hairs, rather than the dead center of the photo. 

Next I adjusted the white balance. This is also a subtle change, but take a look at Olaf's coloring compared to the original:  

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The white balance was definitely difficult to do in this image because of all the lighting in this room. Everything from sunlight through the windows, over head lighting, the blue and purple lights for the background and other random spot lighting as this was taken in the dining room. I adjust the white balance on all my photos to ensure that whites turn out white - not blue or yellow tinted. 

Here is the most obvious adjustment, the exposure: 

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This brightens up the photo overall. Now if I was behind the lens in this photo shoot, I would have adjusted this before I took the photo and then made minor adjustments (if any) on the computer. But an amazing camera and an amazing photo editing software means even the worst under exposed photo can be salvaged! 

Next, a few adjustments to the exposure's shadows and highlights: 

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Again, a subtle change, but by brightening up the shadows, you can see that my shorts were blue and not black. You can see more details in Anna's dress and you'll also notice the floor is lighter as it eliminated most of the shadows. Lowering the highlights (the bright areas) is also subtle but you may notice that in the upper left hand corner. Lowering the brightness is most obvious in the natural sky as it tones down the sun glare a bit. 

Finally, adjusting the sharpness and contrast: 

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This is very subtle and it would probably only be seen if I zoom in really tight. I use a lot of sharpness and contrast in landscape photos - brings our the detail in ways you can't even imagine. 

And there you go! A before and after: 

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Now portrait photography also gets some facial retouching, which you can see below: 

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Eyes are sharpened, under eye circles lightened and that spot beside his mouth is removed. (This is my son so it's probably a crumb left over from lunch!). For adults, I often "smooth" skin which helps lighten up those wrinkles and smooth out any red splotches. 

Here's a full size of that image: 

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You can see that the before and after is a bit more subtle than the Frozen picture. This is better example of what the images looks like straight out of camera and with some gentle post processing. 

Hope you have enjoyed this tour of behind the scenes after the photo shoot!



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