inspired by Martina Bisaz

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Step by step to the perfect post-processed photo

Post-processing on the computer

For a long time, now, I have only been taking pictures in RAW format with my camera. This way, the photos go onto the memory card unprocessed. This means that in post-processing you can change lots of parameters, such as brightness, contrast or the colours, with no loss of quality and give the photo more character thanks to this detailed treatment. The JPGs produced by the cameras are actually nothing but automatically optimised and compressed RAW files, that have lost all the other image information not used in the compression.

On the computer, I work with the programme Lightroom from Adobe. This offers me endless possibilities for image processing. I am still in the beginner phase myself and often learn something new, but in this blog article I would like to show my basic steps in image processing. The good thing about it is: you can reverse the editing steps at any time and carry out new experiments.

After the photo has been imported, I switch over to the “Develop” function. There, I first make some basic adjustments.

Exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, transparency and dynamics are the parameters that I usually adjust. But, of course, how much I change these, and whether I do at all, depends on the individual picture.

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Tone Reproduction Curve

People say that this should form an S shape. If you want a matt look, then one raises the beginning of the curve. This is where the black shades are, and by lifting the point one excludes absolute black – the black shades become paler.

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Colour and Saturation

Play with individual shades, saturations and luminance of the different colours. If one would like the orange to be more prominent, for example, one can increase the saturation of orange somewhat, and if the orange is still too dark, increase the luminance of the colour. You can also carry out extreme colour changes with the tool. For example, a blue lake can be turned into a turquoise lake, orange can become yellow or red. The best thing to do is to simply play around to see what is possible.

If the sky is very blue, I often reduce the saturation of the colour blue. This is to make the sky look less kitschy and less like a postcard. But that is a matter of taste, and of course you should process your picture just the way you want.

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Point Corrections

Under the histogram, you will find tools that enable you to make point changes to the picture. The tools I use frequently are the correction brush and gradual filter. With the brush, you can brighten, darken, saturate, sharpen and make lots of other changes to targeted points on the picture. I often use it to brighten or darken places in the picture, in order to guide the observer’s gaze to a place that is important to me. Or also if some places are overlit, causing some details to become lost, you can use it to reduce the exposure somewhat in places.

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Punktuelle Korrekturen

Gradual Filter

This filter is very practical for targeted editing of the sky. Usually, the sky and landscape are differently exposed (especially at dusk and dawn). Either the sky is correctly exposed but the landscape is too dark, or the sky is too bright but the landscape is consistent. With the gradual filter, you can counteract this somewhat.

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Repair Stamp

This tool is practical, for getting rid of dots that come from a dusty sensor. I prefer to do more complicated retouching in the programme “Photoshop”, however.

Sharpening and Perspective Corrections

In the editing menu, there are now options for sharpening the photo, carrying out lens corrections (Lightroom automatically recognises the lenses used), correcting distortions, or reducing or even increasing grain.

Exporting

If you are satisfied with the end result, you can export the picture. Go back to the library and select the desired picture. When exporting, you can still carry out some adjustments, such as, for example, determining the picture format or quality and thus reduce the file size.

Post-processing with the Smartphone

Nowadays, photos can even be successfully and excellently post-processed on smartphones, using various apps. Nowadays, you can even get excellent post-processing results from your smartphone, with a variety of photo apps. Lots of smartphones even offer the option of taking RAW photos, like the current Samsung Galaxy S8 or the iPhone SE, iPhone 6S (Plus) and iPhone 7. I would love to tell you a little about my absolute favourite apps for photo editing on smartphones. It does not actually make any difference whether the photos you edit with these programmes have been taken with your mobile phone or have been loaded onto the mobile from a camera. And the best thing: The apps are free and child’s play to operate!

“Snapseed”

This app is an absolute must – it can do almost everything! First, I see to the basics, as in “Lightroom”. The recently added “Extend” function is also very interesting: For example, if you would like to widen the picture by a few millimetres, the app will autocomplete what is missing. If you would just like to enlarge the picture a little, the area of the picture that has been added afterwards looks entirely natural. Of course, the more the app has to add, the more obvious the cheat becomes and unsightly repeated patches can occur. But one can also improve this flaw using the repair tool.

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Extend
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Conspicuous repetitions have to be corrected with e.g. “TouchRetouch”.
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Conspicuous repetitions have to be corrected with e.g. “TouchRetouch”.

Another thing that I like about “Snapseed” is that you can use a brush to edit light/dark, contrast and saturation. Unfortunately, the brush is limited to these three options. Since recently, the app also features a gradation curve – this is of course practical, and I also always often use this tool. The app can do a lot, so the best thing is to take a look at it and try out the numerous functions.

Download at the App Store (Mac)
Download at the Google Play Store (Android)

“Polarr”

This Mac app is very suitable if you want to play around even more with the colours. It also has a few presets, which you can change individually, however, according to your own taste. “Polarr” is very complex and it is clear that I still need some time to get to know the app better. But it looks very promising.

Download at the App Store (Mac)
Download at the Google Play Store (Android)

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Like “Snapseed” and “Lightroom”, “Polarr” also has a gradation curve.
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As with “Lightroom”, one can also adjust the hues with “Polarr”.
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«TouchRetouch»

This app is one of my favourites. I often use it to make details that annoy me in the picture - such as e.g. power lines, posts, patches or even people - magically vanish. Just fantastic and so simple! There is the function “Remove object”, with which you brush the object that you want to cover up – and the app conjures it away by itself. Sometimes, this works very well, especially if the object is free-standing. Sometimes the app’s automation algorithm causes somewhat peculiar retouching; I prefer to use the copying stamp, with which I myself can control what is copied from where and retouched. The tool “Remove lines” is superb for free-standing cables such as high-voltage power lines.

Download at the App Store (Mac)
Download at the Google Play Store (Android)

 

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With the stamp, I correct annoying repetitions or other flaws.
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Remove object. The brush thickness can in each case be adjusted in the Settings.
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GO
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And ta-da, the pole has gone!

«VSCO»

My last app tip is a must-have: “VSCO” is very well known for the many filters, which will give your photos an analogue film look. I mostly still use “VSCO” in a final editing stage. I have a few favourite presets that I always fall back on. Normally, I only use these between filter strength 4 and 10. Of course, you can also adjust the presets individually to your own taste. “VSCO” includes only a few presets as standard. If you want a wider selection of filters, you have to buy the packages. I have bought a few of the packages and in my opinion it is worth it! Of course, I never use all of them. I have my favourite filters that I use again and again. A few of these are: K2+3, A1, HB, Legacy 04+07 and C1-3.

If you always use the same presets or editing methods, for example, this will give your pictures an individual style. People tell me that my pictures have a certain look. Whether it is because of the colour or perhaps also the motif: I don’t know. I am not so aware of it myself. Perhaps this is because I am not trying to copy anyone, but instead just edit my pictures the way I like. And this is what I would also like to recommend to you, because this is how you will define your individual style.

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Picture before.
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Picture with preset K2 and thickness 7.6.

After editing the photo, I post it on Instagram of course. Sometimes, I put the absolute finishing touch to the picture using the editing tools of Instagram itself. Several days can go by between editing and when I finally post the picture. It often happens that there are one or two details of my postprocessing that I am no longer entirely happy with, so then I alter it a little using Instagram.

Download at the App Store (Mac)
Download at the Google Play Store (Android)

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K2
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Legacy 04
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A1
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C1
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This was the original picture. Self-timer shot without tripod, camera only positioned on my bag, which is why the photo came out completely slanted. Picture 21: And this is what I wanted it to look like.
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And this is what I wanted it to look like.
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Straightening the horizon with “Snapseed”. With rotation and horizontal perspective. The app automatically fills in the gaps at the edge. I have eliminated unwanted bathers in the sea, using “TouchRetouch”. ;)
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Edited afterwards using “VSCO”.
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A few last changes before posting on Instagram.
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All pictures in this article are from Martina Bisaz and are subject to her copyright.

Martina Bisaz neben ihrem orangefarbenen VW-Bus

Martina Bisaz

There is hardly any other Swiss person who has as many Instagram followers as her. Martina Bisaz, born in Grisons, impresses more than 211,000 followers with her landscape photos on the Instagram photo platform as kitkat_ch. The 36-year-old travels across Switzerland and all over the world in her vintage Fiat 500 and an orange VW bus. And as with Heidi, it can also be said of Martina that the mountains are her world. Photos of impressive snow-capped mountains, turquoise blue alpine lakes and misty mountain ranges are her trademark. Martina Bisaz quit her job as a scientific illustrator in 2017 and has been working as a freelance photographer and dedicating herself to her Instagram account since then. Martina writes a blog about the world of photography and photo products for the inspire photo blog from ifolor every month.

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