This is the third part of a three post series on my post production workflow for architectural photography.
In part one I went through five steps that included:
- Sharpening of the image set
- Stitching together panorama shots
- Merging any HDR / blending images
- First round selection of images
In part two I started to refine the images:
- Adjust overall exposure
- Check alignment of images
- Adjust white balance
- Remove distracting elements
- Check and correct perspective
And in this third (and last) step I finish any adjustments, refine the selection and then export the images.
11. Blue colour slider
In most external shots I adjust the blue luminance (not saturation) of the shot. This allows me to lighten or darken the sky independently from the building, unless of course the building is blue too, in which case I would use the local adjustment step below.
12. Local adjustments
I use Lightroom’s local adjustment tool in preference to the main sliders for exposure, contrast etc. I find I have far more control and enjoy “painting” a photograph. For example, I might want to increase the exposure of just the windows, so I set the tool’s exposure to +.5 and paint in those areas. I could do the same for the sky and so forth. I may want to darken some areas and adjust contrast in others. This tool stems from the old technique of dodging and burning, but with far more power. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but instead just say that this step could be expanded ten fold and can really add a personal style to what other wise is just sliders and presets. I leave this step to the end because it is also the most time consuming. You can literally spend hours painting in the exact look you want for a photograph, so it’s best to refine your shots first and only do this on your wow images.
13. Round two selection of images
As I move through these steps I start doing a second round selection. I don’t wait until the end to do this, and grade the images as I work through them. What I did in the first round selection is give any image worth considering a rating of two, so now when I decide an image is not going to make it I can reduce it to a rating of 1 and bump it out of the set. This is much easier than going through 150 images and increasing their rating. So it’s more a process of reduction rather than selection. By the time I’m finished I should have a somewhere between 50 to 100 images.
14. Final selection
My final selection is done right at the end. I go through the images that are left and make sure I’m happy. I want to remove any last images that I don’t to put my name next to, and I also make sure that I’ve included images required by the brief, ie, the architect specifically asked for a detail of a joinery unit. If I’m working towards a very refined set (sometimes just a handfull of frames) then I’ll do an additional selection process and choose images that will be 3 stars, and maybe another one for 4 stars. When doing this type of additional selection I also like to take a break from the images and come back to them after a day, or even a week. This allows me to judge them more clearly.
I finally export the images and upload them to Google Drive (I used to use Picasa which I have explained previously here, but have a different approach now which I’ll explain in another post.) I typically export three jpg sets: Hi res (full size), low res (around 1000px), and thumbnails (200px high).