Digital Post-Processing or Darkroom of digital photography is a workflow that prepares digital images for web and print. The workflow can be based on the type of photography (fashion, fine art, wedding or event) and techniques and tips of post-processing (mentioned at the end of this topic). Every beginner and advanced photographers need to know how best to post-process their images. A basic knowledge in Digital Technology and software applications is required. In order to make this topic a short and clearly arranged read, I'll write more specific about Digital Technology in a separate post.
For me, the post-processing begins already in camera. Today, if you want to work in a professional way, you have to work with high end digital cameras that support RAW, JPEG and TIFF files. RAW and TIFF are large file formats that require more space on your memory card. They can be compressed or uncompressed, but the compression scheme is lossless. That means that, even if you manipulate the files and make them a little smaller, nothing will change on the image quality. On the other hand, JPEG files are much smaller and require smaller space on your memory card, the quality loss by post-processing is very high. Each time when you would open a JPEG file you will loose on image quality. The resolution of JEPG files are 72 pixels but a very good quality print requires minimum resolution of 150 pixels. The best print resolutions are between 200 and 300 pixels. For Photoshop users - keep in mind that each time you would change the image resolution, the image size will became larger, and you'll have to go back to its original format right after changing the resolution. Otherwise, the image will remain blury. To check the image quality, go to image preview and than click on actual pixels. It will show you the current image quality. Lightroom will automatically do this changes for you and save a high quality JPEG file with a resolution of 240 pixels.
TIFF files are the largest files and to save them on your memory card takes an amount of time. Most of the professional photographers are working with RAW files which can be converted in JPEG and TIFF files directly on camera or on PC. In order to save space on your memory card, I would recommend to convert your files on your PC. For the workflow you will need a good software application. I mostly work with Photoshop and Lightroom. GIMP is free software application and a good alternative for Adobe software.
RAW and TIFF files are ideal for the post-processing and you get better results as with JPEG. Most common and popular post-processing techniques are:
- basic adjastments
- quick and flexible photo color manipulations
- black and white Photoshop conversion techniques
- image retouching
- exposure blending
- sharpening technique
- noise reduction
- lense correction
- contrast, autolevels and batch processing
- photo enhancing using Dragan and David Hill effects
Here you can find good post-processing tutorials for all the above mentioned techniques.