Reworking post-production

I mentioned in a previous post that I’d revisited my workflow and approach to post-production. After experimenting with a few less important images for Instagram posts, I worked on one of the more important images.

Below is a before and after, showing my previous edit and the current edit, under my updated approach.

Before & after post-production method change

I think the main things that have made a difference are:

  • Separating the preparation of a digital negative from preparing a print proof (I treat a digital print to sRGB as a proof also). I read Ansel Adams’ The Print yesterday (more on that in a separate post) and one take away was to treat the negative as full of possibilities for realising the end image (much in the same way as capturing the original photo). By optimising the negative (including recovering detail and balancing) as a separate step, without considering the finished output, there is a much stronger raw material.
  • Have a disciplined approach to adjusting broad areas of the image using rough masks (rather than fine selections) gives more subtle contrast throughout the image.
  • Making fine adjustments on a single layer using the history brush seems to encourage more effective evaluation of the image (without the distraction of masking etc). In the reworked image, attention is better drawn to the chimney, where I want it.
  • Editing the print proof in the relevant colour space (or print profile) – in this case sRGB. By viewing the gamut warnings in Photoshop before exporting this image, it was clear where the image would become blocked up in the shadows once converted to sRGB. I was therefore able to make a levels adjustment to some shadow areas and avoid the sRGB blocking.