Best bang for your buck - post processing

Best bang for your buck - post processing
(Matt Payne) #1

Hi all,
I’m wondering what you all feel like has been the best value - dollars to impact on your post-processing?

To be clear, I am asking for EDUCATION not software.

Like, if you were going to spend money on ways to improve your post-processing, what would you pick?

I primarily edit in Photoshop.

I have the TK panels and videos from Sean Bagshaw already which was quite helpful (although some of it did go over my head to be honest).

I’m looking into f64elite
and I’m also looking into other individual’s videos etc.

What has helped you the most over the years?

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Little Blue Heron
(Dan Kearl) #2

Unfortunately, one of the best PP programs is out of date and is not supported anymore but
I keep my old system running just so I can use it.
NX2, the old nikon software still does a lot of stuff better than Photoshop which I also use.
A shame they did not keep it up to date.
It does a way better job selecting IMO, much easier than PS and is way more subtle for minor changes than Photoshop.
I process the RAW images in ACR, take to PS and if I need to do fine changes, I take to NX2.


(Chris Mitchell) #3

I’ve seen drastic improvements in the last 24 hours since buying TK actions in the Black Friday sale. Everything is just there! Still a bit of a learning curve but I think I’ll invest in some tutorials. I’ve always just used lightroom and shyed away from PS. Time to take the plunge.

Love the podcast Matt. It’s why I’m here!


(Dennis Plank) #4

The add on I use the most in Photoshop is the Neat Image noise reduction software. Since I’m in the Northwest and do mostly avian photography, I’m often at high iso and it does a wonderful job of taming noise without my having to fiddle with it.

Topaz Remask (now part of their Studio package, which is free for the basic adjustments) is what I use for selections. It’s pretty intuitive and they have excellent tutorials. I use their Detail software (also pat of Studio) to bring out feather detail in most of the images I process.

Those are the only three extras that I use consistently.


(Dan Kearl) #5

I use Topaz NR, it does about the best I have seen…
I use it all the time for Birds (I consider under iso2000 good light in the NW).
I will use it in other stuff sometimes instead of Blurring.


(David Schoen) #6

I would have to say that my number one add-on is DxO photo lab primarily for its prime noise reduction engine. You might be able to pick it up for $150 today. It definitely supports any digital camera with a Bayer type sensor which includes Canon and Nikon. Unfortunately, the Fuji X sensor is not supported because the algorithm is different. Each camera and lens combination for at least Canon and Nikon and many others with Bayer sensors are programmed individually so that corrections are more accurate. Although low noise images may or may not benefit from the prime noise reduction engine, I still find some of the sliders to be very helpful. Typically I process any image over iso-1250 with DxO photo lab.

Another add-on that I picked up yesterday on their cyber Monday sale is Topaz AI Clear which appears to be impressive with respect to noise reduction and sharpening. The images I posted today on the avian critiques gallery were processed with this add-on. I use this with the Fuji X-T3 as it is not supported by DxO.


(Matt Payne) #7

@David_Schoen @Dan_Kearl @Dennis_Plank
Sorry I was not more clear… I meant education not software. I updated my post to be more specific =)


(Keith Bauer) #8

Hi Matt:

I think your first post was quite clear asking for education, not software. Not sure why you received so many software responses.

I think you need to find an individual or possibly a company that offers direct education to answer the questions you have for YOUR images. Generic videos are fine for learning some basics, but generally won’t push you over the ledge to the next level.

I want to make sure this is NOT a sales pitch. I do exactly that kind of education, but my plate is 100% full with clients. I’d guess there are others out there that have the knowledge to teach high end processing using tools like LR, PS and TK. That is the toolset I use for at least 90% of my processing needs. All the 3rd party tools out there can be helpful, but add yet another layer of learning. If you are interested in hearing more details on my thoughts and methods, I’d be happy to share, but please contact me offline.

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(David Schoen) #9

Sorry Matt, the above line was not in the original post and by the time I got to it there were several responses regarding software.

People who have downloaded ON One Camera Raw receive a lot of educational support including many Blake Rudis/ f64 videos at no cost when purchasing the product. There are several other promoters/photographic educators who provide videos to support the ON One Camera Raw product. While these are helpful, I can’t see paying an extra $20 a month to someone who may just emphasize one product. (Of course this may not be the case if there is no connection to ON one.)

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Kelby one which is specific to Photoshop and light room with respect to postprocessing. For those who don’t know, what was originally NAPP (The National Association of Photoshop Professionals) has become Kelby one.

I do agree with you that the Sean Bagshaw videos that accompanied the TK panels are superb and yes, sometimes over my head too. He is an excellent teacher.

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(Keith Bauer) #10

Kelby One is OK (I’m a member), but the biggest problem is their videos are quite basic with very few exceptions. They never teach TK. You’ll find one video in several hundred that are applicable to your processing needs. I’m a member just to get the Photoshop User Magazine and the LightRoom Magazine (both electronic).


(Matt Payne) #11

No worries man! :slight_smile:

Has anyone used f64elite? I liked what he had to say on Nick Page’s podcast.


(Ed McGuirk) #12

Matt, I can’t speak f64 elite, I have never used used any of Blake Rudis’ software or videos. On a couple occasions I looked at information on his Zone System. It seems like his panels are somewhat similar to TK, perhaps with more emphasis on color correction/adjustment. He does market it as an “approach” and not just a software, and I assume the f64 elite package gets you deeper into that approach, albeit at a higher cost.

If you primarily use photoshop now and want to take your processing up a notch, then the TK panel plus Bagshaw videos are a very logical next step used by many. TK plus Bagshaw videos do have a steep learning curve. I found that I didn’t really “get it” until I tried to reproduce what Sean was doing in the videos step by step using the images he used in the videos. My guess is that you would need to do the same with the BR Zone System, although the f64 Elite package may buy you a little extra personalized attention. I have nothing to back this up, but it seems like more landscape shooters use TK, and thus over time there may be more TK resources out there from multiple people.

I think Bagshaw is a good teacher, and his videos do a great job. But in my opinion they spend more time on the individual TK tools, what they do, how to use them, the Luminosity mask theory behind them, etc., and they spend less time on start to finish application of the tools on specific images, ie the global approach. To be fair to Sean, the TK panel has undergone numerous significant changes/upgrades in the past 4 to 5 years, and Sean’s videos had to spend a lot of time on what was changing, and how to use the new panel functionality. I think you need education on both the “approach” and tool function/theory.

To supplement Bagshaw’s videos, I ended up learning a lot from the videos of Aaron Dowling, who sells his own LM panel, ADP Pro3. Aaron’s LM panel is similar to TK, about 75% the same. TK has more buttons that automate Photoshop commands, and ADP has some stuff TK does not, like the Heat Map concept, which I think is a good tool for beginners to understand which mask is best for the job. But I found Aaron’s videos to be very good, and his style is to spend more time on start to finish application. After I spent time watching both Bagshaw’s and Dowling’s videos, I felt like I had a much better understanding of using LM’s. Yes, I had to buy 2 sets of LM panels and videos, but that is still less expensive then the f64 Elite package. In practice I use the TK panel for a lot of my processing, but also frequently use specific tools from ADP that TK does not have. ADP Pro does have some good functionality specific to B&W processing, which I also use a lot.

I had the time and patience to watch and re-watch both sets of video’s until I “got it”. If you don’t, then seeking some individualized 1 on 1 teaching might be worth the extra cost. My only suggestion would be to try to learn the basics from videos like Bagshaw’s first. Then you could pay extra for 1 on 1 instruction at an intermediate or advanced level, and not pay that extra cost for LM’s 101, the video’s should be able to give almost anyone that.

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(Zach Reed) #13

Josh Cripps has some excellent videos that cover processing in a way that make it applicable to any action panel you might use. Very fairly priced compared to some other options I’ve seen as well.


(Jordan Inglee) #14

Hey @Matt_Payne - just wanted to pipe in! I’ve been on a huge education kick the last year and a half myself so I’ll give you my .02

As you’ve already said - Sean’s tutorials are top notch. I’ve purchased all of his, including the complete workflow videos. He’s one of the best educators IMHO, but it’s imperative you work through each practice image to see how to use each feature, especially with the TK actions.

His extended Dynamic Range tuts are really awesome to lead into his LM stuff and focuses more on PS and more general topics. He also covers using different blend modes for specific usages which is great.

If you haven’t got his complete workflows, those really are the most useful and he covers some things like non destructive workflow that are super useful.

I also like to throw on any of his tuts when driving, eating, sleeping, flying… well because his voice is just so smooth… and I like to hear the processes over and over lol.

I also own all of Ryan Dyar’s and he teaches some really useful tricks and tips but doesn’t get too deep into PS side of things.

I’ve also recently picked up a bunch of Max Rive, and if you can get past his accent, there’s a bunch of good things there though he’s nowhere near as organized as Sean. He also doesn’t really teach good PS practices.

So bang for buck, Sean’s are the best, but overall you should focus on workflow series from any of them to get the most useful stuff. I’d also look into any tuts that cover blend modes and masking, probably the most useful topics coming from LR and utilizing the power of PS.

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(Jim Zablotny) #15

Learn how to master layers and masks. Especially for landscapes, being able to adjust the opacity of a layer can make the difference for controlling the effects of processing. I would tackle this from subject matter and then search for online tutorials that cover each particular topic. The best way is to try things yourself rather than go look for tutorials…Jim


(Matt Payne) #16

This is the feedback I needed - appreciate it Jordan!


(Dave Dillemuth) #17

Hi Matt,
I have used Sean Bagshaw’s videos and found them very helpful. However, I just picked up a video from Alex Noriega (Three Trees?) which I can highly recommend. Totally different approach to masking/dodge-burn which has been an eye opener.


(David Kingham) #18

Hey Matt, lot of great advice here! I have purchased/watched a ton of videos myself, some were game changing and others were…mehh. I would seek out videos from the people that inspire you the most rather than generalized services like Kelby One. I’ve learned a lot from Sean Bagshaw, Alex Noriega, Ryan Dyar.

I also have watched all the videos for the different luminosity panels. You already know about Sean so I won’t dive into that, you know how good they are. Aaron Dowlings videos for the ADP panel are fantastic, great information specific to landscape photography and you learn a lot of the why rather than just the how. Greg Benz’s videos are good and you can learn a lot, but they are all over the place without a cohesive workflow. The f64 videos are very well done and Blake knows his stuff and knows how to teach very well, I learned a few things myself, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend him for landscape photographers. He covers all sorts of different subject matter and quite frankly his images have a certain look to them that I think most of us here would find unpleasant, so it’s just not the route I would recommend.

Start with the videos of people you respect, then start working with them one on one. Whether that’s a skype session, workshop, etc. I know you’ve always been kind of against this, but it’s really the best way to learn quickly. If you want unfiltered opinions shoot me a message buddy :wink:


(Nathan Klein) #19

Hey Matt,

I recommend picking up Ryan Dyer’s something from nothing video. In the video he covers many techniques and clearly explains why he’s making certain decisions. For me I get more value out of the why as opposed to how to do things in PS. Tapping into the thinking of a moloch more experienced photographer helps me a lot.

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(Nathan Klein) #20

Also Bruce Percy’s e books are amazing. Especially his writings on composition, tonal relationships and photoshop curves.

Guy Tal’s the Landscape photographers guide to photoshop is also very useful.