Every week, I take quite a few photos, digital in RAW format. Some of them need a fair bit of post-production attention in Lightroom and Photoshop. Some only need a few tweaks.
There are 5 tasks that I perform on every single picture. I’m sharing these with you, to make your life easier.
1. Convert files to DNG while importing
DNG stands for Digital Negative Format and is a lossless raw image format created by Adobe.
I use Digital Negative files because the format simplifies file management. All changes in the photo are written directly into DNG so there is no need for a separate XMP file to store the data.
The other reason I use DNG files is because they’re about 15% smaller than RAW, so they take up much less storage space.
2. Only select your best shots
After I import the files, I select the best shots. I decide which photos to publish or print, which ones only to back up and which ones go in the bin.
Be your own toughest critic. Being able to successfully choose only your best pictures to share with the world is probably one of the most important skills a photographer can have. And it comes in handy knowing which ones to include in your portfolio.
3. Correct the white balance
Correcting the white balance is another obligatory task. Often when you look at your images post-production, they can come out with an orange, blue, or yellow, tint to them – even though the scene looked quite normal when you took the shot.
This happens because depending on the lighting conditions when you took the photo, different sources of light can have a different ‘colour’ (or temperature) to them, and this will influence your digital image.
There are some great tools, like pro kit X-Rite ColorChecker, that can help you with white balance while shooting. Alternatively, you can give your subject a white sheet of paper to hold for a test shot to get a reference point for the rest of your photos.
Another piece of advice I can offer is never to shoot on Auto Balance. If you do, your white balance will be all over the place on all the individual photos. Choose a specific WB setting; Cloudy, Sunny, etc, then when you correct it for all the photos, they will have the same value.
4. Fix lens distortion
Another important thing to remember is to correct the distortion of your lens. Most lenses make slightly distorted images, where they seem to bulge or contract in the centre, and they can make parallel lines seem to waver.
This happens especially if you shoot with wide-angle lenses or telephoto zooms. They can show noticeable distortion at their long ends or add unwanted vignetting. Remember to fix this using your lens corrections option in Photoshop Camera RAW, Lightroom or any other software you are using.
5. Crop it
The last thing on my list depends very much on the individual photograph and your creative vision. But it is important, as a photographer, to be able to see whether the picture is framed the way you want it to be and/or the way it should be. So if necessary, I crop my photograph or even out the horizon.
That's about it – hope this is helpful!
Are there are any other similar tasks that you always do? Then share them here, don't be shy.
Below, few of my recent live gig photos.