Author: Rod Lawton

Better colours with curves adjustments

Contrast and saturation are closely related. Sometimes you can end up increasing saturation when really it’s the contrast that was the problem. That’s why it’s always a good idea to fix an image’s contrast and tonal properties before you start worrying about its colour. And one of the best tools for doing this is curves. You can apply curves adjustments in a whole range  of applications, including Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One and here, in Aperture on the Mac. Curves adjustments work the same whatever program you use. In this case I’m applying a classic ‘S-shaped’ curve to boost both...

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Lightroom’s Graduated Filter tool in action

Lightroom’s Graduated Filter tool is great. It’s designed to replicate the effect of real-life graduated filters in landscape photography, reducing the brightness of skies so that there’s less of a contrast difference with the landscape itself. It’s not much good if the sky is so overexposed that there’s no detail left, but if you shoot RAW files it’s usually possible to claw back enough sky detail. And that’s the great thing about Lightroom – you’re working directly with RAW files, so you can pull back a bright sky using the RAW data, without any intermediate conversion process. This means...

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Boost contrast with Silver Efex Pro’s vignettes

The old-fashioned art of black and white photography went far beyond the initial picture-taking. Another, equally important creative process took place in the darkroom, where the image was dodged and burned to enhance the tones and concentrate the viewer’s gaze on the subject and composition. Dodging and burning is a bit of a lost art. It’s a lot easier with digital than it was in the darkroom, of course, but now that black and white is more of a minority interest than a mainstream technique, people seem to have forgotten how to do it, when and why. But a...

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Give your images Clarity in Lightroom

The technical explanation of Lightroom’s Clarity slider is  that it increases localised contrast to make objects, shapes and outlines stand out more clearly. The pictorial effect is that your images gain extra ‘punch’, but without pushing the overall contrast levels too high. It’s especially effective when the lighting is quite flat and lifeless, and I’m going to use it on this shot I took during an early-morning dog walk one autumn. The frost on the grass, the early morning light and the faint pink tinge in the sky made a wonderful picture… or at least they would have done...

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Capture One Pro 7’s offline mode springs a surprise

Capture One Pro 7 is a big upgrade on the previous version, and one of the biggest additions is the built-in library function. It now works just like Adobe Lightroom, storing all your images in a searchable database, complete with Lightroom-style Collections and Smart Collections. You can also use it in offline mode. This means that you keep the database on your computer’s internal hard disk, but all your high-res images can be stored on an external drive. Capture One will store previews of your photos in its internal database, so you can browse, and organise your photos even...

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About this site

Welcome to Life after Photoshop! It's a site dedicated to alternative image editors, photography techniques and camera gear.

Rod Lawton – photographer, writer and Head of Testing for Digital Camera, PhotoPlus and N-Photo at Future plc.

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