Through The Swamp - Post Processing Workflow

I've been getting quite a few emails with questions about my post processing so I decided to start a new series on my blog in which I explain in detail how I edit my photographs that I publish regularly on Google+ and 500px .

My goal is to provide as much information as possible to make you use my workflow for your own pictures.

If I'm using plugins for a particular image like Nik's Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Analog Efex Pro, I will include the settings I used in those plugins as downloadable presets that you can import back into the application if you're using those  plugins.

The photograph I want to start with is one of my favourites so far for this year. I named it "Through The Swamp" and shot it on March 1, 2013 at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, FL.


Through The Swamp - Final Version

The RAW file that I shot that day is rather unspectacular and I tried to post process it a few days later but couldn't produce a final image that pleased me. I therefore let it sit on my disk for a few months until Google released its Analog Efex Pro (AEP) plugin last week. 

While I did most of the post-processing in Lightroom, AEP provided me with the needed inspiration with its powerful vignetting tool to produce the final image, although I ended up adding the vignette in LR.

I always start in Lightroom to do some basic RAW processing, then bring it either into a plugin or Photoshop and finally complete the final photograph back in Lightroom.

This is what I captured in-camera without any editing done:

RAW File

Step 1: RAW processing in Lightroom 

I did very little for this image. In fact, I only adjusted the Color temperature, added a bit of vibrance and did a square crop.

RAW processing in Adobe Lightroom 5

Step 2: Nik's Analog Efex Pro

Instead of telling you about all sliders I moved into which direction, you can simply download the Through The Swamp Preset I created for that particular picture and use it for your own pictures with Analog Efex Pro to see exactly what I did.

I'm a big fan of the "Light Streaks" feature but I will get into more detail in a later photograph as it is not as obvious in this picture.

Analog Efex Pro 

Step 3: Back in Lightroom for drama

Once I got the image back from AEP, I did some heavy retouching in Lightroom, especially with darkening the edges and boosting clarify and saturation because I wanted those greens to pop.

In the screenshot below you can see how I created the vignette. I didn't really on Lightroom's vignette feature but used the brush tool to darken the edges exactly where I wanted them dark.  


Lightroom 5 - Final Touches


I would really appreciate your feedback in the comments section below and I will use for future posting in this category.

A Different Kind of Infrared Photography Post-Processing including the Lightroom 3 preset

I like shooting infrared pictures with my Leica M8 and the B+W Infrared Filter #092 which filters out light below 650 nm. Thanks to the range-finder concept of the Leica, I can still compose and focus the picture as I'm not looking through the lens.

The first picture below shows the original RAW file I got right out of camera with the typical Infrared look.

The picture below is the result of my new post-processing method in Lightroom 3.

That Lightroom 3 preset is now available for download right


Happy Halloween everyone!

A self portrait shot with one light: Canon 580EX II in a Westcott Apollo Softbox on camera left (yeah.. where else?). Subject (me) between camera and soft box, hence the rim-light.

How to focus a self portrait:
I used a light-stand to place where I will be standing and adjusted it height to my eye-level and marked it's position with a gaffers-tape on the ground. I then focussed on the very top end of the light-stand, moved it away and too it's position.

I had a cable release in my hand - the camera was very close to me, so that was not an issue. Pressing the button on the remote triggered the shutter - done.

The teeth were a fairly easy Photoshop task - just Google for "Vampire Teeth in Photoshop" and you will find lots of tutorials on how to do it.

Any Questions/Comments - let me know.

Oh and yes, if you want to give me your vote, you can do so over at 500px

How to motion-blur

Shooting at night with a fast lens is so much fun. I took this photograph with the same lens I talked about yesterday - the Canon 24mm f/1.4.

I didn't have the tripod with me that night but I wanted to get a slight motion blur of the passing train. The rule of thumb I apply for motion blur is to shoot with the same shutter-speed than the moving subject is passing by in mph...hmmm - I hope you are very confused now because I would be. Here is what I mean:

I your subject moves with a speed of 20mph, you shoot it with a shutter-speed of 1/20th. You obviously need to guess the speed if you do not have a radar gun with you but that shouldn't be too hard. The train in the photograph was not driving by in full-speed but was rather breaking to stop at the station.

Exif Info:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

  • Exposure Time: 0.05s (1/20)

  • Aperture: f/2

  • ISO: 3200

  • Focal Length: 24mm