Processing my digital photos part 3

Now that I’ve got my photos safely stored so that I won’t loose the originals and, I can edit to my hearts content without loss of quality, I’m ready for the main work.  For the details of how I got here, read the first two parts of this series here and here.

Retouching the photos is the longest portion of my digital photo workflow. I won’t try to cover image enhancement in detail as there are many web sites with detailed information on the various techniques. One tip I do want to point out is, don’t always jump to use brightness and contrast adjustment for poorly lit photos. With underexposed and overexposed photos I most often find the best correction technique is to add layers and set the blend mode to compensate for the poor exposure. Overexposed photos are corrected with layers set to multiply blend mode, underexposure is compensated using screen blend mode. Once you have a blend layer setup you can strengthen the effect by simply duplicating the blend layer. To achieve dodging and burning effects, add masks to the screen and multiply layers. It can be time consuming but I think the results are worth the effort, here’s a couple examples.

This photo of a Rainbow Lorikeet at the Brevard Zoo is horribly underexposed.

dcp01898org

By duplicating the image to a new layer, setting the blend mode to screen and duplicating the new layer two times the photo is rescued from the dustbin.dcp01898

Due to the poor natural lighting, the original photo is overexposed in the upper right and underexposed in the lower left.dcp01411org1

By adding both a masked screen layer and a masked multiply layer the poor lighting is evened out.dcp01411

With the retouching finished the next step is to export the photo as a JPEG file into the JPEG directory I’d previously setup (see part 1 for details of my directory structure). In my preferred photo editing program, Paint Shop Pro, their are multiple ways to perform this function. For single photos there is a JPEG export command and the file “save as” command, when I have multiple photos to export I use the batch processing feature.

Now I’m ready to create albums on CDs for my family and friends and another album for my web site. In the past I used JASC’s Media Center Plus with customized templates to create albums like this 2002 Olympics album. Sadly that application was discontinued years ago so I needed to find something current.

I tried out many free and commercial products but one stood out from the rest, the open source JAVA based JAlbum. This photo album application is extremely customizable and has many skins available so everyone should be able to find a combination they like. I’ve chosen the Chameleon skin by Lazaworx for all my albums so far and have been very pleased with the ease of use and flexibility.

Paint Shop Pro Tutorials