Enhance Yourself

Now that we have a sharp base image to work with, it’s time to edit the image into the final vision of what was in your mind’s eye when you snapped the photo.  I prefer staying within the realm of organic photography but if you want to go into full blown digitally altered version of a Stephen King nightmare, knock yourself out.

My current go-to app for editing most of my photos is KitCam. It handles large resolution images without breaking a sweat. KitCam also has amazing white balance and exposure compensation. There are a ton of film types/lens/frames combinations. Since I shoot mostly for black and white output, I use the Newsprint and Rorschach films almost exclusively, (although I have been known to use a color film for its tonality and then drop the saturation to zero).  I also love that KitCam preserves EXIF/IPTC data.

Once I’ve imported the image into KitCam, I check if Clarify will take the image closer to my vision without blowing out the highlights. If it does, then I set it to that with the knowledge I can always turn it off again should later adjustments take it closer to Retina Burnout.

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Editor’s Note: The optional Clarify Pro tool in Camera+ ($2.99, App Store link)  works similarly to the Clarify tool in the old KitCam app. The Ansel filter in Camera+ is close to Kitcam’s old Newsprint filter and creates a nice, high contrast black and white image. =M=

 

The image with Clarify turned on.

The image with Clarify turned on.

Next, I set the Aspect Ratio and set the flow and composition of the image by zooming and/or moving and cropping. KitCam maintains the size of the image regardless of the amount of zoom and crop you apply.  This is a great feature that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

Aspect ratio set to 16:9.

Aspect ratio set to 16:9.

Zoomed image will maintain 4896x3672 size.

Zoomed image will maintain 4896×3672 size.

Now that we have Aspect set, we can add Vignette (if needed), set color and tone via the film type and add a frame (again, if desired).

Vignette Lens applied.

Vignette Lens applied.

Newsprint Film applied.

Newsprint Film applied.

The Newsprint Film in KitCam usually blows out the highlights of a picture by just a tad.  Luckily, KitCam has one of the best Exposure features of any app I’ve ever used.  Usually, one half step to one full step down will suffice to reduce solarization and highlight blowout.

Exposure set to about -.5.

Exposure set to about -.5.

My goto setup is 16:9 aspect, Vignette Lens (wide open), Newsprint Film, Exposure set to -.5 to -1 and rarely a slight adjustment to Contrast and/or Brightness. Save to camera roll.

The Devil is in The Details

Ok, we are almost finished. We just need to set additional IPTC information (copyright notice, artist credit etc.) and to set the image DPI.   I use Photogene 4 for these tasks.  Open your masterpiece in Photogene and select the image info button.  I have a preset with my information that I insert.  Once you’ve entered your info close that window and open the Export menu. Click on the Resolution/Resize line. Scroll to the bottom and set the JPEG Quality to 1.00.  You only need to do that once unless you change it again.  The DPI section is just above JPEG Quality.  Set that to 300×300 (this only needs to be set once). Scroll up to the Resolution section and select the 4896 line (3672 if you chose 1:1 in the Aspect step of processing).  The resolution selection has to be made each time you go through this process.  Save to camera roll.

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The EXIF data in Photogene2

The EXIF data in Photogene2

 

JPEG quality, DPI setting and Resolution.

JPEG quality, DPI setting and Resolution.

Wake the Kids, Call the Neighbors

Now your masterpiece is finished and ready to display in your online gallery or print and hang in your humble abode.  What else should you do?  If longevity is a concern, creating multiple backup copies is a good idea.   I keep a copy in the cloud on Dropbox and a copy on an external hard drive.  Steer clear of cloud services that reduce image quality when you upload or download.

One More Thing

I’ve recently started creating “Master” versions of my work in Filterstorm.  Filterstorm will create a RAW TIFF copy of your image that will be about 35MB to 40MB.  The downside is that Filterstorm only preserves the EXIF data and strips the IPTC data.

Export settings for Filterstorm

Export settings for Filterstorm

EXIF data for finished RAW image.

EXIF data for finished RAW image.

The finished image in TIFF format

The finished image in TIFF format

Detail of TIFF at 100%

Detail of TIFF at 100%

Happy Hunting

Well, that just about does it.  This is my current work flow for processing most of my photos.  Of course, this is meant to be just a basic guide.  I encourage you to experiment, take chances and develop a flow that suits your style.

The take away here is your photograph is like a lasagna, it requires a recipe (plan), good ingredients (apps), careful layering (processing), attention to detail (composition, tone) and some elbow grease (get off your butt and go shoot something)!

SXSW Tuesday Morning by Sid Pena

SXSW Tuesday Morning by Sid Pena

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Sweater WeatherSid Peña began his photographic journey in 1985 when he bought a Nikon FG in Kitzingen, Bavaria, West Germany.  He has worked as a photojournalist and graphic designer, among many other interesting jobs.  He is currently working for a very well known computer firm in Austin, Texas.  When he’s not at work he can be seen lurking around downtown with his iPhone 5, on the hiking trails of Walnut Creek with his dog, Angie or hosting a MST3K marathon at his house for fellow MSTies.

Flickr Photostream: www.flickr.com/photos/sidpena
Twitter: @sidpena