The Power of Post-Processing

I've been a big fan of post-processing since I started photographing digital. Especially in the days of RAW files, it became much more important to process the files to get the most out of it and I'm not just talking about output sharpening which is a must when shooting RAW vs JPG.

What happened:


I don't always have the time to perfectly compose a picture like for that particular example below. I visited the Lake Compounce Theme Park near Hartfort, CT with my family and while riding a train around the park I saw those beautiful reflections in the water with the floating dock on the side. I had my 16-35mm on my camera and no time to switch lenses as the train was moving. I shot the following picture which is not perfectly composed, has some blown highlights and distracting branches and leafs in the foreground. In a perfect world, I should have used the 70-200mm on a tripod but that spot was only accessible by that train that didn't want to stop.
After a first look, I almost rejected the picture in Lightroom but decided to keep it for now. A couple of days later, I looked at it again and thought that with some cropping and processing it could still be interesting.

Exif Info:

  • 0.005 sec (1/200)

  • Aperture f/2.8

  • Focal Length 35 mm

  • ISO Speed 320

  • Shutter Speed Priority



Original RAW file:
Lake Compounce-2009-07-10-19-09-59-26

How to fix this:


It was clear that it needed a heavy crop and as the colors were not really that great, I decided to go with a toned black and white. One of my most used tools is Silver Efex Pro by Nik Software.
I've used an orange filter in Silver Efex Pro and pushed the contrast and structure sliders quite a bit to make it pop. I finally added a green tone using the "Split Toning" feature in Lightroom - that's by the way one of the main reasons why I prefer Lightroom over Aperture: Split Toning and the History panel.

I shot and edited the picture almost 2 years go. Today I would probably crop it a bit wider.

Total time for Post Processing: 3 minutes.

Final Version:
Lake Compounce