How to select Post Processing Parameters

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Continued from – How to select an Ideal Exposure – Part 1

Now that you know how to capture a photo with an ideal exposure, it’s time to apply some post-processing magic that will help your images to truly shine. One of the most frequently asked questions by landscape photographer is:

How do I know the right amount of post processing magic for my photos? What parameters should I adjust to fine tune my images?

How much time you need to spend in post will depend upon the choices you make in the field. In my previous article, we discussed my decision to use a 1-stop soft GND filter to achieve a near-perfect exposure. By darkening the highlight areas of my image, a GND filter allowed me to choose an exposure that could capture more shadow details, thereby minimizing the noise in the darkest areas of the image.

Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park Wyoming (WY), USA

1-Stop Soft GND Filter, Yellowstone National Park Wyoming (WY), USA

The key to my post-processing workflow is to analyze what adjustments are needed. For this particular shot, I needed to restore contrast in the washed-out highlights and also brighten up the shadow details in the mountains. The mountains had been darkened as a result of using a soft GND filter.

My first step was to restore the details in the highlights. To do this, I used a simple brush tool built into the Adobe Camera Raw converter panel to apply my chosen exposure adjustments only to the highlight areas of the image.

Yellowstone - Highlight Adjustments

As you can see, this tool allowed me to reduce the highlights in my image by 1.2 stops and restore the washed-out details. I then turned my attention to the shadow areas in the mountains.

Yellowstone - Shadow Adjustments

Here, I used the same brush tool I had used before, but I bumped up my exposure by 0.55 stops and added a bit more contrast in order to bring out the mountain details.

The final product you see below was created by applying a minor s-curve adjustment that helped me to boost contrast and color saturation throughout the image. You can find this adjustment under the tone curve tab found in Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom.

Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park Wyoming (WY), USA

Final Processed Image using Histograms, Soft GND Filters & Post Processing

By getting an ideal exposure in the field, I was able to streamline my workflow and drastically reduce my time in post-processing. To learn more about the processing techniques I used, check out Anne Mckinnell’s Practical Lightroom Tutorials. This robust tutorial uses the same case studies from our Creating Impact Course to walk you through nearly every aspect of ACR in order to show you how you can easily and beautifully edit your own RAW photos.


About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams