Taking a picture and seeing it in camera are one thing but to finally see it up on your computer screen is another whole new outlook. On the back of my camera and all DSLRs, there is a viewing screen, the LCD, liquid crystal display. I use that ALOT. I also use the magnifier button to zoom into the picture to see if I am nailing my sharpness and detail, looking for any blur. If I see any amount of blur, I retake the image. We are very lucky in this day in age to have digital cameras that produce this image right away on our LCDs.
The above picture is after I edited it in Adobe Lightroom 3. I am a bit of a newby to Lightroom but I have used Photoshop Elements for several years now and many of the steps and processing are quite the same. I shot this image in JPEG Fine, not RAW and am still able to play with the exposure, brightness, temperature, blacks, contrast, etc. I know for many photographers RAW vs. JPEG is and will be an ongoing debate but for me it is a personal preference. For everyday shots, I shoot JPEG. For professional sessions, RAW.
Here is this same image SOOC, straight out of camera. Wow, what a difference. Even though I checked it over several times in camera after taking this picture, it seemed fine. However, once I saw it on my computer screen it was too dark for my satisfaction. We were inside a building with awful florescent lighting which I think created havoc with my eyes and viewing the back of my camera's LCD image. And just a note. I would rather fix a slightly over exposed image than a very underexposed one.
I raised the exposure, the brightness, upped the blacks and a tiny bit of contrast and I raised the temperature to warm it up a bit. I also sharpened this image too. You would be amazed at how sharpening an image just makes it pop out and look polished. Once I was happy with those adjustments, I then ran what is called a preset in Lightroom. In Photoshop they are called actions. Basically they are a post processing effect to enhance an image and leave out all the steps to actually get what would be a preset. I love these. They make my life so much easier.
The preset I used for the above image warmed up her face, made her eyes brighter, brought in a vintage coloring to it and also a vignetting around the edges. I love how it turned out.
For the image above, I did a few things differently.
I was outside taking pictures of "Jake" as he sat in the back of his truck watching his human dad cut lumber for my home's new stairway. I had lot's of natural light. It was fairly overcast but that works fine for me. Bright sunlight may have given this image a very different lighting look to it. I was fairly happy with my exposure and lightened it very little. I zoomed in and cropped the image a bit to remove the lettering on the truck which I found distracting to the image. After some sharpening and bringing up the blacks slider I ran a preset. I use the blacks slider alot because it can really bring out depth and detail to an image.
Photoshop and Lightroom are a photographer's best friend. They go hand in hand and being in this profession it is a must to create the very best photographs. These programs do not take the place of fixing an overall bad picture. They enhance. They make good, great. Awesome, outstanding!