For this evening we gathered both online and in the hall to watch some of our members undertake image editing , taking a RAW image to final picture ready for display.  Each image was provided by another photographer.  The members volunteering for this task were David P, Brian C, Alfred C, Chris R, and Dave S.    This post does not incorporate images, as none of the work carried out was completed to a finished standard.

The post-processing software used was generally either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop (including PS Elements).  (Other software packages are available!) We additionally briefly heard about Affinity Photo software. We also saw the use of action sets within the software to automate repetitive tasks, and the use of supplemental ‘add-in’ software to enhance the ease of access or functionality of the post-processing software packages.

The first edit of the evening was undertaken by David P.  David used Adobe Bridge to carry out basic adjustments to the image, but then transferred to Photoshop to demonstrate the use of the “quick mask” function to cut out an image of a person sitting on a bench. He showed us how to reveal the masked area and to use a soft edge brush to refine the original selection until the whole outline required had been accurately selected.  Additionally, David showed how intricate areas of masking can often be simplified by painting beyond the required edge and then deleting the overlapped area,  approaching the required cut-out line from the other side of that line.

Having completed the refined selection, David then lifted the cut-out onto a new layer using the sequence Select;  Copy;  Paste, followed by mirroring and zooming the size of the selected cut-out before carefully positioning back into the background image.

David then went on to demonstrate the use of ‘actions’ within Photoshop to automate tasks.  David has set up an action set to automate the export of a layered image to the club pixel size required for competition images.  His action set sequence was as follows:-  Flatten;  Convert to sRGB;  Fit image to required pixel size;  Non-sharp mask adjustment to suit image size change;  Stroke option;  Save dialogue, and all of this initiated with a simple mouse click.  This is a very fast and slick process that helps avoid errors in achieving a match to competition requirements.

David pointed out that information of actions is available of the Club’s CD of help and advice, available from him for a modest cost.

Our next contributor was Brian C who used Adobe Lightroom as his software of choice. Brian showed us how he has rearranged the standard sequence of Lightroom edit groups on his screen to better suit his personal workflow.

Brian carried out his edit adjustments in the following sequence:-

  • Lens correction and aberration correction
  • Horizon level using the crop tool
  • Basic panel;  shadows;  highlights;  spot removal
  • Camera calibration panel to achieve better colour grading, adjusting to suit taste by varying the opacity of the result
  • Filters to select the sky, adjusting whites, highlights, clarity and exposure for the sky alone

Finally Brian used an export preset to save the final RAW image to a club standard size sRGB jpeg to meet the club competition image standards – another one-click solution.

Our third edit of the evening was carried out by Albert C, again using Adobe Lightroom.  Alfred decided to convert his image to monochrome for best effect.  Having used Lightroom to make this change he then used the ‘Basic’ sliders to set a black point and white point on the image,  by holding down the ‘Alt’ key to view the mask whilst operating the sliders on screen.  Next he applied a ‘graduated filter’ to darken the sky, followed by numerous brushes to selectively darken or lighten different parts of the image.  Generally, his intent was to darken dark areas and lighten light areas , all to increase the impact of the final image.

Our next volunteer was Chris R who carried out two edits, using both Lightroom and Photoshop. 

The first was an image of a lake.  Chris used the following sequence of Lightroom edit controls:-

  • Colour calibration
  • Basic group controls – Auto button, followed by basic levels adjustments
  • Graduated filter, followed by de-haze slider plus an erase brush to refine the masked out area in the background of the image
  • Graduated filter from the bottom of the frame, used to brighten the highlights in the reflections
  • Brush tool, to further enhance the highlights in the area of reeds and to increase sharpness locally
  • Set back and white points, using the ‘Alt’ key to reveal the extent of the masks associated with the black and white points respectively.
  • Lens correction and aberration correction
  • At this stage Chris switched to Photoshop to add a stroke to the image and to resize the image for export to the club PDI standards.

The next image Chris worked on was of a small chapel in the woods.  He used Photoshop for this image, and started by cropping the image layer to enhance the subject in the frame.  He then introduced the basic TK6 luminosity mask add-on package, and used this to bring in three separate luminosity masks to allow highly accurate selections from the picture based on specific luminosity levels within the image.  Once the three luminosity layers were established by the software actions, Chris further adjusted the final outcome with his edit.

At this stage Chris duplicated his original crop layer and carried out adjustments on that layer using Camera RAW.  This included a vignette using the radial filter button and a brush to reduce exposure on a distracting tree.  Finally,  he added a stroke to the image in Photoshop.

Following this demonstration Brian C opened the full TK8 luminosity mask add-on package from his computer and briefly discussed the more extensive range of options available with this full package for Photoshop users, which is available  from its author at an additional cost. There is also a free basic version and another cut down 8-bit version for Photoshop Elements, also free.

Further links for the TK Luminosity masks are appended below.

Our final edit of the evening was carried out by Dave S.  He also worked on two images.

His first image was best summarised as a tree and a rock.  Dave had to open the RAW file in Affinity Photo in order to convert the image to a jpeg.  He also adjusted exposure, clarity black and white points before exporting the image to Photoshop.  Dave’s further edits involved:-

  • cropping away about half of the image
  • adjusting brightness and contrast
  • convert to monochrome
  • increase exposure and contrast
  • convert back to colour, and then adjusting the colour temperature to reduce the ’grey’ output that happens when greatly reducing the exposure of bright areas
  • using a paintbrush (blue) adding further to the sky, and the eraser to reduce this effect on the lower portion of sky to make it look more natural


TK Luminosity Masks, designed by Tony Kuyper, available to download from:-

‘Sean Bagshaw’                YouTube channel which provides many videos explaining how to use TK luminosity masks to best effect in editing images .*

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