Good subject and composition are the foundation for a good image, but post processing can add the magic to your vision. Look at the before and after photos below to see the results of post processing.

It can be difficult knowing where to start and possibly expensive, depending on software choices. Below are my suggestions for a road map to take your images to the next level.

  1. Take photographs in the RAW format.
  2. Purchase Adobe Photoshop Elements.
  3. Learn Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Camera RAW.

By default cameras are set to take images in the JPEG format. JPEG creates smaller files and by choosing a camera “picture style” such as portrait  sport, landscape, etc. the camera will apply post processing such as sharpening, color balance, contrast etc.  However the RAW format allows more flexibility in post processing. Look in your camera’s manual and change your format to RAW. Note if change to RAW you must use software to process your image because without processing a RAW image out of camera will look worse than a JPEG image.

The gold standard for photo processing is Adobe Photoshop, which is a pricey program at about $630. However Adobe offers another very affordable program, Photoshop Elements which can be purchased for less than $100. Photoshop Elements has 90% of the functionality of Photoshop, but more importantly they share the exact same camera RAW processing software.

Your camera is set to RAW, you have loaded your memory card of RAW photos into Photoshop Elements, now what? Looking at all the adjustments that can be made in Photoshop can be intimidating. Scott Kelby is an author of some of the most popular books on photography. Scott also creates video and online photography training. I recommend Scott’s 7-point System for Camera RAW because it gives you a framework to process any photo. There are two ways to purchase Scott’s training, either as a DVD here for $63, or as a three day online course rental here for $9.99.

This will be a good start on post processing your own photos however there is much more to learn! Please ask any questions about processing your images.

M. Pachis Cool

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