Gary Groucutt from Lightscapes Photography considers post-production both in and out of the camera.

There is plenty you can do in production after you have made your image, playing around with it to your heart’s content, shaping it into your next classic. You are spoiled for choice these days, with lots of software to choose from.

You can even edit your photos on the fly taken with your phone. But before we get to the fi ddling stage, how about we stop, think and do a little post-production in camera, as you are making the image and creating it with one shot? This will make your life so much easier and will save oodles of time in front of the computer.

post prodution before-after

You don’t get blurry eyes or a stiff neck from craning at a monitor, plus, you guessed it, you have more time to actually be out taking photographs! With one filter you can make so much diff erence and give yourself a great balanced histogram. Placing a filter over the sky, carefully tilting it to the horizon line will do the trick for you.

If you only have one filter then buy a 0.9 Soft Graduated Filter. This is the filter I use the most and leave in the filter holder ready to go. If your budget can stretch to buying another filter, make it a polariser. This is an extremely versatile addition to your image pre- and postproduction power. If you want to make your rainbows stronger without a computer, use a polariser. This will really make the colours zing.

Top tips

Curves and levels. You can use them for correct ing colour casts, brightening dark areas ready for printing. To use the Levels layer in Photoshop, pick the grey dropper and then click on either a grey area on your image (like a dark grey cloud) or a dark area (like dark green foliage). It takes a little practice, but once it is right it will transform your photograph and rest ore a more natural colour. Check on the right hand side of the hist ogram in levels. If it’s not completely to the right, then gently bring the right slider diamond to meet it. You will see your image lighten in front of your eyes.

Lighten your shadows. Make a select ion of the dark part of the image with the Polygonal Lasso tool. Now refi ne the edge, so you get a nice smooth invisible alteration. (Set the feathering to around 100 and the smoothing to around 50.) Next, click on the Curves Layer icon. This will show the hist ogram for the select ion you have made. If it is to the left and dark, just simply lift up the adjust ment line in the centre and it will bring up the shadows. But don’t overdo it. It can look false, particularly if it is an area that shouldn’t have too much light. Repeat this process around your image improving the dark areas and lifting up your photograph ready to print.

Use canvas size. Put a quick white border around your images. In the dimensions window, simply increase each number by 0.1 (use up and down arrows on your keyboard), set the background to white and press OK. Toggle to full screen and you will get the full view of your image with no distract ions; a great way to see how your image will look printed and framed up.

Use dodge and burn. Add some punch and sp arkle to your images, right at the end, but use it sparingly. Set the strength to 8 as a maximum; you can quickly overcook it and blow away those precious pixels.

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