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Figure Miscellaneous

Tips & Tricks: Post-Processing Figure Photos

Have you missed my honey-sweet noise? I hope you have, because I’ve dusted off the YouTube channel and made a video tutorial on post-processing figure photos! It’s thirteen minutes of wisdom-laden autism on how to make your photos suck less. If you’ve never tried post-processing your photos before, you’ll be smacking yourself by the end of the video when you realize how easy it is and/or how much of a fucking hack I am. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX-9lK-VpB0

To recap, here are the few things I went over in the tutorial:

  • Exposure & the histogram
  • White balance
  • Enhancing colour & contrast with clarity, vibrance and tone curve adjustments

Please feel free to ask any questions related to post-processing and share your own tricks in the comments. While you’re at it, let me know if this is something you’d like to see more of in the future. I had a lot of fun putting this video together, and if I acquired some video-recording equipment (say, a new DSLR body that can record video), I’d be happy to make a basic photography walkthrough if there’s interest for it.

14 replies on “Tips & Tricks: Post-Processing Figure Photos”

Hey hey, I use a natural light source and a lamp.. at the same time! I feel like I’ve committed some huge photography no-no now. 🙁

I think my pet peeve with figure photography (well, I guess any photography) is poor white balance. That green tinge will haunt my nightmares forever, I reckon. Dark and dull photos, too much contrast and unnecessary tilting of photographs will also make me cringe.. I won’t say I’m not guilty of any of those though!

I didn’t know about that white balance tool, I tend to eyeball it and do whatever I think looks nice.
I can’t say I have any tricks or tips, I’d probably be laughed off the internet if anyone saw how I did my post processing! I will say that I find colour balancing a little easier to do in Photoshop than Lightroom although that’s probably due to my skills in Photoshop being a bit stronger.

By the way, where are the cats and nendos? What the fuck, dude.. c’mon! On a more serious note, it’d be great to see more stuff like this!

HERESY. Report to the local inquisition at once! I know there are daylight colour bulbs, though I’ve never tried using them myself, so I don’t know how well they live up to the promise. I imagine mixing daylight and bulbs can work, especially if you set the white balance in a way that lets the sunlight give a warm glow to one side of the figure. Hmmm, I should try this out one day!

I LOVE unnecessary tilting of photos, though! I find that they make model and toy shots 300% more interesting to look at. But I have a feeling that we aren’t talking about the same thing…LINK.

Every time I’ve tried eyeballing white balance, I wake up the next morning hating my life. No eyeballing for me, not ever!

But Zai, I can’t be funny without Ash! I even wrote out the part about the cats and Nendos, but after I listened to my desert-dry delivery of the intro, it was obvious that the joke would be completely lost when it comes out of my mouth. I’m glad that you liked the video, though!

Seeing Light Room in action really does make me think of NT- cheating. It’s like you’re doing what the camera does but afterwards, looks pretty neat. I never actually post process anything myself, apart from adding speech bubbles and stuff. I’ve always wondered what my photos would be like if I did something extra with them but I never really know what to do. Light Room seems strisghtforward enough, so maybe I’ll try it out.

Also I can’t end this comment without being a snob. Post processing is like adding steak sauce to a nice cut of meat. If you cook it right to begin with you don’t need to add anything to your already delicious steak, burn it and you must add sauce and all sorts of crap to mask the terrible taste. Haha j/k :p.

Here’s the thing, though: no matter how expensive your camera is, the dynamic range it produces is still lower than the human eye — at least that’s what Ash tells me. So no matter how you cut it, the vanilla images produced by your camera have its limitations.

With that said, I do rely on post-processing more than I should. Instead of cranking up the exposure compensation, I should’ve just shot the photo brighter in the first place, and the same can be said about white balance. Yet I still don’t feel it’s cheating, because post-processing (at this sort of basic level, at least) can’t save outright bad photos. If you light your figures in a completely retarded manner, then playing around with some sliders won’t save you — a bad cut of meat is a bad cut of meat, and a little fire won’t change that.

Tl;dr: post-processing smooths over minor blunders and enhances what’s there. As long as it doesn’t outright fabricate things that was never there in the first place, then it’s alright by me.

nice one Chag Sensei.

Another Lightroom user am I the only one who uses Bibble? 😀 At first these programs appear rather complicated and take some time, but once you have your working routine it all goes smooth and fast.

Im ok with processing, it’s fun and helps with polishing the picture.
I don’t really like these fake backgrounds.

I didn’t really care about Whitebalance before, I still don’t use the histogram, but the WB presets are rather helpful to get the colors I want. Once I’ve bought a spider colorimeter to calibrate the colorspaces of the screens and programs, I still don’t know if it was a useful investment, though.

The settings I mainly use are exposure, conrast, blacks, vibrance and noise control ^^
Well, you can mix daylight with artificial light, but the artificial lightsource should be close to natural daylight, a too yellowish won’t work in most cases.

Sensei?! Oh God no, you take that back! The last thing I need is people who think I know what I’m doing. That happened with the gundam model tutorial I did 2 years ago…got bombarded with questions I couldn’t answer, blah!

I’ve never heard of Bibble, but I’ll look into it later today. I did used to use Nikon Capture NX2 and Adobe Bridge for this kind of stuff before moving onto Lightroom. As nice is LR is, it’s a real resource hog, and it was sooooo slow on my old shitty laptop.

Man, I’ve been curious about the monitor colour calibrators for a while. I actually borrowed one from my dad, but I think that one has been dropped a few too many time, because it really screwed up the colours when I used it. If Aka ever comes over to visit again, I’ll definitely beg him to bring his calibrator with him. I think the colours on my monitors are pretty accurate, but the problem is that I never know for sure, and I never know how my photos look on my readers’ monitors. It drives me crazy sometimes, but there’s no point in losing hair over things I have no control over.

Yeah, I left out the black levels because the video was dragging on for a bit too long. I might cover it when I do a video on how to get completely black backgrounds. Doing a video like this is a nice change of pace.

God, I have so much disdain for post processing!

When my first experience is negative it takes a lot of effort for me to think of otherwise. Now, I’m sure flickr is not the best place but what I saw people do there, what their reasoning was, what their end result was only made want to punch them in the face and take their camera away until they learned how to take proper photos first. I also saw these photography group people come down as ravenous animals on the one guy who said post processing is not necessary while they had the opinion that if you didn’t do it you were not a “true photographer”.

As for me nowadays, while I still see post processing with disdain I don’t think it’s something that shouldn’t be done. I just think it is redundant.

Fixing the white balance, fixing the exposure, cropping? All those I think photographers should be doing properly in the first place. Manually white balance, meter your pictures to your desired intent, frame properly to give focus to your liking. Post processing almost seems like a scapegoat for people who lack understanding of photography.

For me post processing comes into play when you take a picture and one more elements did not come out as you liked. Rather than throw it away you can still tweak to get to your original intent. It comes into play when you want a picture that cannot be achieved simply because the way your lens or sensor works.

TL;DR

Post processing is ok, you shouldn’t have to it for every single picture, you shouldn’t use to try to fix a bad photo. You should use it to enhance aspects of your photos and to produce something that cannot be done with the camera alone.

Also, I’m still too lazy to do it.

Wow, so much anger on the subject — what have I unleashed?

I don’t really agree with this camera purist perspective, — choosing to work on a photo after the fact is a difference in methodology. As Luth said the other day, shooting in jpeg is allowing the camera apply the presets for you, and RAW files, being unprocessed, are generally less presentable to begin with. I’d rather do the processing myself have have more control over the process as opposed to letting the equipment do the work.

What is an “understanding of photography”? Is it not partially the understanding of what makes an image appealing? Being able to take an image that looks sufficiently appealing with little or no alterations is an admirable skill to have, and I think the mark of a great photographer is to be able to take minimize the amount of “corrective” editing. But limiting the use of post-processing to that of patchwork seems to be a self-imposed limitation that betrays creative nature of photography. Just as there is great creative potential in the development of film, there is also great creative potential in the development of digital data.

I think it’s just a little elitist to look down on people who rely on post-processing. Yes, excessive editing will ruin an image. When someone severely underexpose or overexpose an image, that person is going to have to deal with the noise produced by exposure compensation and recovery. When a person ends up cropping out 4/5th of the image, he’s going to have to work with a lousy image resolution. But if that person has not made any highly disruptive errors, and through his original image and his creative efforts is able to produce a more attractive image, then all the power to him. After all, at the end of the day, the photo will be judged by what’s within the frame, not by the steps the creator has chosen to do without.

Thanks for the tips and I’ve learned something about making presets that will hopefully save me a ton of time.

I tend to mix lights a lot, my favorite source is my phone and tablet screens mixed with flash, daylight, lamps, whatever. Either flashlight apps, or take a photo of some white or grey in the current light to match up.

Speaking of post-processing, I think it’s really unavoidable. If you shoot in JPG, even with a phone or compact camera, you’re doing post-processing, except you’re letting the camera throw some filter on your picture for you. Technology is good enough that most of the time it comes out acceptable, and for most pictures that’s fine. If you really want to go to the next level though, you need to do RAW, and you need to take control of the processing yourself so you can eke out every last bit of awesomeness from your picture. It’s definitely a learning curve though, as you’ll need to learn how to be smarter than the auto-filters the camera is using and be willing to put enough time and care into it to make it worthwhile. I don’t even use half the sliders and curves are like black magic to me. I’ll usually ask Zai to help me finish up processing my photos because I’ll miss things like saturating a certain color or removing the green tint that seems to appear on every photo. I am also very guilty of not putting enough time into my processing, especially in ‘normal’ review photos, so I’m actually considering shooting JPEG for those and using RAW and processing for the ‘gimmicky’ photos that really get me excited. But I’ll try this preset thing first and see how that goes 😉

Uguu, now I’m feeling insecure about that part on white balance light sources. I think I’m just going to tell myself it’s still good advice to newcomers who might otherwise stumble on the white balance. Also, “normal lights? Pfffft! Bitch, I use APPLE PRODUCTS to light my figures.”

I can’t believe you’ve never touched presets! Then again, I’ve never used presets before Aka showed me after doing that outdoor Eva girls shoot. I usually do my adjustments to one image then copy those adjustments to the rest of the set, but I figured that presets would be easily to show off and explain.

Completely agree with you on the subject of post-editing. I have a simple goal in life: to be THE PRETTIEST, and if post-processing gets me to that goal, then post-process I will! I don’t really post-process much beyond the usual one-size-fits-all adjustments, but when I REALLY like a photo or a photo needs a lot of fixing (like the outdoor Eva girl shots), then I take my usual trial-and-error approach to the rest of the settings. Black clipping is still my best friend, though — can’t do true black backdrops without it <3.

Wow, this tutorial was useful and taught me some good stuff, it’s shown me, a newbie, a new perspective in photography and editing. By the way, is the photo editing software you use free and does GIMP work as well?

Hehe, I’m glad you found it helpful! Unfortunately, Adobe Lightroom isn’t freeware. I’m not familiar with GIMP, but it seems to have the relevant features. I’m not sure if it can read and edit raw image files, but asides from that, it’s worth a try!

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