post processing

“What did you say?”

“What did you say?”, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

This is an attempt to make a color processing preset for Aperture 3. It has quite much a vintage feeling and I kind of like the result. But I am not quite there. ūüėČ Something is missing.

I used curves to pump up midtones, muted colors by lowering the vibrancy, and added some overall tint (done by tint wheels and color monochrome adjustment).

Please, give your honest opinions on this. I am quite pleased; at least it differs quite much from the original (shown below).

In his virtual shop

In his virtual shop, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

Tiitus is selecting groceries from a virtual shelf here. ūüėČ

The actual reason (even if I like the shot in general too) for posting this photo here was to state that I think I have found B&W adjustments which really pleases me.

I use Aperture 3 for my RAW converter (and also to adjust JPEGs) and after a long-time testing and tweaking I am now happy with the B&W results. No need to use any other programmes or plug-ins for the conversion anymore. I have tested and used before Nik’s Silver Efex Pro (also version 2) and DxO’s Film Pack 3. Both are very nice plug-ins, Silver Efex even a fantastic one. But it is always an extra step and more importantly you’ll get those huge TIFF files after using them.

That is why I have been trying to find suitable B&W adjustments in Aperture and to save them as my personal B&W preset. I want to have quite constant results which need only minor additional tweaking.

What I basically do in Aperture 3 is to use different curves adjustments together with some decrease in vibrancy plus some tinting in color levels to achieve above kind of a result.

I have been trying to find similar approach also for color shots but it seems to be a much more complicated thing to achieve.

Adjusting my brain into Aperture mode

We are now having increasing amount of light. Actually lots of light. Why I am talking about light in this Aperture posting? Well, obviously light is the most important factor in photography. But that is not the reason in this post. The reason is noise. More light – lower ISO settings – less noise. And that is especially indoors. In the winter time I was forced to use ISO 1600-3200 (even 6400) for indoor shots. I want to use available light, so, not many other possibilities in that department. In the spring and summer ISOs indoors¬†are between 100 and 800 usually. That means that the noise levels are totally acceptable levels with my 5D Mark II and even with my E-P1. So now I can forget¬†Aperture’s poor noise handling and try to learn more Aperture using the shots where the noise is not irritating me.

What I find very cool with Aperture 3 is the possibility to use multiple curves adjustments for a single shot. And especially the possibility to brush them in. You can do this for other adjustment bricks too but I think curves will solve many problems. When you use multiple curves and brush them in, it is like using layers in PS (at least sort of). I have to look these adjustment possibilities more carefully and learn Aperture 3 more in the spring and summer. Nathan Smith has done a nice tutorial about multiple curves and how to brush them in.

Another thing I am starting to like more and more in Aperture when I am using it is its user interface. I have been saying to myself all the time that LRs UI is good enough for me but I have to admit that Aperture’s UI is so much better and more intuitive. I am still needing more time to process a shot in Aperture than in LR but that’s mainly because I have been using LR much longer time. I think when I develop a Aperture¬†workflow which suits my needs, I will be faster with Aperture.

This spring and the coming  summer will be quite decisive for me if I am finally going to choose Aperture 3 over LR 3. During that time I also have to solve the noise thing for the coming autumn when the sun is not so high anymore and the days will be much shorter.

Brown is all you need

Brown is all you need, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

For the above photo I tested Nik’s Color Efex Pro and its film effect filters. My long time favorite of those filters is Kodak Ektachrome 64 Pro which is used here. I just love how it renders the colors.

There was, however, one problem after using that film filter. Tiitus’ hand became quite red, i.e. it was not looking good at all. But no problem in fixing it because Color Efex Pro has the Control Point feature of Nik products. I used negative (minus) control point for his hand and the film effect was removed from that area in the shot. Just great!

Tested Lo-Fi App

Tiitus and an icicle, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

Yesterday evening I downloaded Lo-Fi App made by Wingnut, LLC. This stand-alone programm will¬†“LoFi” your photos by adding old film effects, textures, and borders.

I tested it for many shots and I was quite pleased about the results I got. The “Randomize” button is especially cool. When you push it you got randomized mix of effects applied on your shot. You can of course select all effects manually but I found randomizing really fun. You can also turn off each effect individually to achieve more controlled results.

Lo-Fi has a 7 day trial period. Download it and try out and see which kind of results it will create. I think only downside is the prize (29 $) because I feel that I would not use Lo-Fi very frequently. Basically I do not like textures and frames (but I do like film effects) applied in photos. Film effects I can do very nicely in LR or by using Nik’s Color Efex Pro or Silver Efex Pro.

I do like the above result, however. That’s why I will test Lo-Fi more and decide few days later if I may purchase it or not.

Half barn

Half barn, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

With this shot from the last summer I tested curves adjustments in Aperture 3. It seems that I have neglected curves a lot. I have thought that curves are somehow too “professional” for me and haven’t used them that much by myself. Actually they are very powerful tools. Here I used Aperture’s brushes to brush curves adjustments in or out depending where i used them. I really like the output. Formerly quite dull shot evolved to a much better version. Especially the sky is improved a lot.

In some earlier posting in this blog I stated that I am back using Lightroom 3. It may still be so but actually I am using Aperture more than Lightroom at the moment! I am learning Aperture more and more every day and liking it more and more every day.

I think I am now going to process one more photo in Aperture 3, so see you soon!

Distant house and barn

Distant house and barn, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

Here I used Lightroom’s graduated filter to darken the sky area and to lighten the grain field. I think it really is a great tool to give extra punch and drama to your shots.

LR’s graduated filter is much faster to use as Aperture’s brushes are. I can achieve same kind of a result by using Aperture’s brushes but it is so much slower process. With LR those adjustments took only few seconds to make and what is a big plus is that you can make multiple adjustments at once with LR’s graduted filter or brushes. With Aperture you have to select a new brush for every single adjustment.

Should I process more B&Ws?

Miracle of water, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

I really like B&W photos. But I seldom process my shots into B&W versions. I think I am more a color person but sometimes B&W processing can give an extra punch to your shot. No distracting colors, only your subject. I think I will at least test B&W processing for my shots more from now on.

I use Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro for B&W conversions and I find that plug-in really nice. It has so many nice options to control the process (such as the Control Point feature) and very nice presets also. There will be version 2 of Silver Efex Pro soon, so check Nik’s web site to get more info.