How to Photograph Up Close – V: Digital Darkroom Basics

Hello all,

Today we will talk about basic digital darkroom.  When you received your DSLR camera you most likely received software to fix your photographs.  Before digital cameras, we would process our photographs in a darkroom.  I had so much fun playing with the photographs back then.  Because of digital photography, the craft has changed, I now process my files using Adobe Lightroom and to detail the photo I use Adobe Photoshop.   I always photograph in RAW format.  Shooting RAW gives you more flexibility to change your picture.  I will show you later how to batch process but today is an introduction to correcting your photos with the CD/DVD you received with your camera, so let’s start…

Your steps may be different if you do not use Canon but what I discuss in this post, 3 basic ways to fix your photos, should be on the software you received. You will be fixing your color, spot removal, and sharpening the image.

(If you want to see the images below up close click on them, when you want to go back to the blog, use your back arrow key.)

Open your software…I did from my computer clicking on the CameraWindow:

from my computer to upload canon software

from my computer to upload canon software

Next, I downloaded my photographs to a file in my computer:

Canon download options.

Canon download options.

After the completion of my download the Browser window came up:

Canon Browser Window

Canon Browser Window

This is where you view your images.  You will have other options to play with, depending on your software.  Once I have the photograph I want to process, I will go to my Digital Photo Professional file (see first image above) and start working on my photo:

fixing photographs

fixing photographs

It’s time to fix your photographs…   Click the white balance icon at the top and double click the photo you want to work on (see above).  Once you’re in this area click around all the goodies your program has to offer.  You wont mess up your original, just don’t save it until you’re happy with what you have done.

Here is an example of what the canon software looks like when I white balance (color correct):

view of white balance info

view of white balance info

Next, it’s time to clean up the photograph, remove dust, scratches, or any other areas that you feel need to be cleaned.  Under my tools area there is the image stamper…basically, it’s a tool that you can use to fix your photo.  See below:

for canon it's called stamp tool to clean up photo

for canon it's called stamp tool to clean up photo

What I did is  click an area that I want to copy (holding down my alt/option key at the same time)  and then stamp it to the area that needs to be cleaned, and wala…it’s perfect!

canon's stamp tool

canon's stamp tool

Now sharpen your image:

I had to leave my photo and start up again later to fix it.  I saved my changes but left it RAW, so if you don’t have time to finish your project, no worries… just keep your file in the RAW format.  When you open your photo, click on the upper left to change, ” main window” to “edit window”.

In this area you can sharpen or make any other adjustment needed.sharpen your image before you save as a TIFF

sharpen your image before you save as a TIFF

After you have sharpened your image, you need to save your file:

save your file to a tiff

save your file to a tiff

I always save my photo to TIFF’S to preserve the quality of the photograph.   See above to view the screen that I used.  You can change the name of your file here and make other adjustments…play with your software to learn it.

So today we discussed how to view your photos, color correct with white balance, and clean dust and scratch marks from your photos.  I recommend you save your file as a TIFF to preserve the quality of the photograph.  JPEG files depreciate every time you open and re-save them.  If you want to get a jump start on our future discussions on digital dark-rooming, read this book, “Digital Macro Photography” by Ross Hoddinott.

With the techniques I discussed today, see the before and after pictures below:

lily before I fixed with software provided by canon

lily before I fixed with software provided by canon

after color correction and spot removal

after color correction and spot removal

I went drastic on the color correction because I wanted you to see what you can do with the basic software you received with your camera.  To tell you the truth, I would change more on this photograph, but I don’t want to overload you just yet. One thing I want you to remember, always, always, sharpen your photographs when you’re done, or at least before you print or post on the web.

Your homework this week is to play with the digital darkroom software and read the book on Digital Macro Photography. Next week we will discuss some creative techniques to achieve an awesome Macro Photograph.

Cheers,

Janice

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7 Comments on “How to Photograph Up Close – V: Digital Darkroom Basics”

  1. […] Tripods / III: Fun Gadgets for macro Photographing / IV: Basic Macro Shots using Natural Light / V: Digital Darkroom Basics / VI:  Creative Techniques using Natural Light / VII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 1 / VIII: […]

  2. […] / III: Fun Gadgets for Macro Photographing / IV:  Basic Macro Shots using Natural Light / V: Digital Darkroom Basics / VI:  Creative Techniques using Natural Light / VII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 1 / VIII: […]

  3. I switched from 35mm to Digital a short time ago and have found that I spend less time with my pictures on the computer than I did in my color darkroom. While I agree that you should get the best shot possible under your shooting conditions the darkroom/software is certainly the last and not least important of the photography process.

    • Yes, today’s software is the darkroom of the past. I do miss the past but as soon as i started using Lightroom, my days of computer frustration were over. You can fix one photo in your shoot and apply it to the others 🙂

  4. […] How to Photograph Up Close – V: Digital Darkroom Basics … […]

  5. cherokeebydesign says:

    I tend to work on taking the best shot I can from the start, I dont have time to sit in front of a computer to fix/adjust what I should have done in the field to start with.

    I know PhotoShop is a great tool, I just think some people lean on it way too much.

    Raven
    http://cherokeebydesign.wordpress.com/

    • I agree with you! Always try and get the best shot! I rather be in front of my camera and not the computer 🙂 But I still like to shoot RAW because it’s easier to change the feel of the photo… I like the creativity it gives you.

      Thanks for your post.


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