Tricks of the trade
Here’s a little routine that I use for 98% of all my shots. I find it gives the shots just enough sharpness and saturation without going over the top, and gets the images primed ready for upload to Flickr.
Here’s how it goes:
- Open the image in Photoshop. I use CS 2, but any version works just fine.
- Auto-Levels (CTRL-SHIFT-L)
- Open up Curves (CTRL-M). Make a gentle S-curve by dropping the bottom left intersection down 1/4 of the square and raising the top right intersection by the same amount. If should look like this:
This makes the dark areas a little darker, and the lighter areas a little light, adding to the overall “punch” of the image.
- Resize the image to 1280 along it’s widest edge (ALT-I, I, 1280, Enter). 1280 just happens to be the width of my screen resolution. Heh.
- Finally add a touch of extra sharpness using Unsharp Mask (Alt-T, Sharpen->Unsharp Mask). I use settings of 100,0.5,0 which just defines the sharpest of edges and makes the shot stand out from the screen a little more. For print work, I’d use different values but that’s for another blogpost another day
If all that sounds long-winded (I promise, it isn’t really), here’s a Photoshop Action for you: http://home.greywulf.cf/files/BatchActions.atn.
Put that into your \Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Presets\Photoshop Actions folder then choose Load Action from the Actions callout menu to add it into your available Actions.
Creating this sequence as an Action has the added benefit of being able to use Photoshop’s Automate->Batch ability to convert a whole chunk of images in one pass. I think the way that Photoshop handles Batch processing is in dire need of revision (I curse it every time I use it!) but if you can live with it’s quirks, it’s one way to apply the same settings to a lot of images in one pass. There’s one golden rule when using Batch: Always remember to set Batch mode to save your images using a different filename! Never, ever, overwrite your originals!
I’ll be adding new Actions to that set over the next few days to cover the settings I use for monochrome, tritones, etc.
Back to this trick. Here’s a contact sheet of the twenty five shots I’m happy with from today’s outing. All of them have had nothing done to them except for running through the Action above. I might go back and convert some to monochrome, alter the Levels, etc, I’ve ended up with a usable set of Flickr-ready images with the minimum of fuss. Which is nice.
Click on the image to view a larger version.