Aperture RAW Post Processing

So, you people know I am a big fan of shooting RAW+JPEG. I have stated many times that by and large I use the JPEG out of camera. So that begs the question - why do I shoot RAW? Well every once in a while I actually do a lot of post processing. Either planned from the get go or unplanned. Today's post is a really super simple stuff Aperture 3 walk through of a semi-planned use of RAW files in a RAW+JPEG workflow. Semi-planned meaning that I was just shooting one of my new micro 4/3 cameras in full auto and letting it do it's thing. I probably could have planned a bit better and made the JPEG look about 90% "right" out of the camera with manual exposure, manual WB, and setting the saturation and contrast differently but I was lazy and I wanted to play with the E-P1 RAW files anyway.

So here is what I did:

  • Did my normal RAW+JPEG import work-flow and got rid of 80% of the shots I took.
  • I picked a random shot that I thought would look good after post processing and switched the master to RAW via the Photo->Set RAW as Master menu. Actually I use a shortcut key I set up but that doesn't matter.
  • Hmmm. This image sucks. Too flat, too dark, and no color. On top of that is it is crooked. It is way different than the scene I shot. The huge difference is in the color. The reason is that the in camera auto white balance tried it's best to make it "neutral" - who the heck want's neutral, neutral sucks. So the first step is straiten.
  • The second step is to set a daylight WB via the handy dandy WB presets provided by Apple.
  • Okay now we have some color back. In normal circumstances I might increase the exposure and via the exposure controls but in this case I know that I will be screwing around with a lot of contrast and tonal stuff so I will skip that. I also know that I don't want to mess with the end points (black and white points) so I am going to skip the tone related sliders altogether as I know I want to mess around in the middle of the tones. I do want to pretend I used a really high saturation film like Velvia so I am going to amp up the vibrancy a bit. I used a value around +20. A little goes a long way. Esp when combined with increased mid-tone contrast. Even in a quiet image like this. Don't go too far, especially with images that already have bright bold colors.
  • Next we move on to dealing with the contrast and tones. This time I am going to use a curves control because for this image it is the most direct way to get to where I want to go. It is twilight so I don't want to make the darks darker and I don't really want to make the lights a whole lot lighter - maybe a little. I want to bring up the lower mid-tones and increase the mid-tone contrast. So lets put a control point in the darks and leave it be just to keep them nailed. Then let's put a control point somewhere around the top end of the lights and drag it up to get the mid-tones looking the way we want.

Okay, I'm done. It looks like I remember it. Twilight and really nice color. You could go wild and make all the shadows visible or whatever. I just made it look like I would have in camera with film or digital and a little more care.


Ps. Part of the Aperture 3 super simple stuff series.

blog comments powered by Disqus