Zuber Photographics Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panoramic

Print Friendly  Print||All Topics>Workflows>CS2 Raw to Print

CS2 Raw to Print Digital Workflow

Recommended sequence of steps for editing, printing, presenting
and preserving an image that was originally captured in the Raw format


If you follow this workflow, five files will be created on your computer: the Raw file, a XMP file, an Adobe Digital Negative file, the master file and the print file.  The Raw file will be the file from your digital camera.  The XMP file is Camera Raw's sidecar file that contains the parameters for processing the file in Camera Raw.  The Adobe Digital Negative file is to maintain future compatibility with Adobe products.  The master file will be the final image with all adjustments.  This file is usually stored in the TIFF or PSD format.  The print file is also a TIFF or PSD file that has been resized and sharpened for printing.

 

Remember, just because a step is listed here, does not mean it has to be done.

 

Show All Detail Steps  |  Hide All Detail Steps


Preparation

 

The Preparation steps are not performed for every image.  They are performed to set up and maintain your workflow environment.
 

Color Management

  1. Set up a color managed environment even if you work in black and white.
    1. Tell me why
      1. A color managed environment allows the digital hardware and software to predictably reproduce color and shadow detail as an image goes from capture to editing to printing.  This web site author believes a managed environment is just as important to black and white photographers as it is to photographers who use color.
         
    2. Tell me more
      1. Read the Color Management page to learn more about color management.
         
  2. Configure your digital camera so you get the most from your Raw images.  Read more on the Color Management page.
  3. Recalibrate the monitor if it has been more than a month since it was last calibrated.  For critical work, recalibrate every two weeks.
  4. If the monitor has dust and/or smudges, clean the monitor according to the monitor manufacturer's recommendations.

 

Camera Raw Setup

These steps will show you how to change Camera Raw's default settings to match the most common way you work.

  1. Show the steps
    1. Open any Raw file in Camera Raw.  Tell me how
      1. Copy a Raw file to your computer's hard drive.
      2. Within Photoshop, click File > Browse.  This will open the Adobe Bridge program.  Adobe Bridge is an image file browser and is a stand alone Adobe program.  It is not Camera Raw.  Camera Raw is a Raw file processor and is a plug in.
      3. Using the Folder tab in Bridge, browse to the desired image.
      4. Double click the thumbnail image to open the image in Camera Raw.  Or, right click the preview image and select Open in Camera Raw.
         
    2. Set general adjustments.  Tell me how
      1. Make sure the Adjust tab is the active tab.
      2. Change the White Balance drop down box to As Shot.
      3. Uncheck all Auto settings.
      4. Make sure Exposure is 0.
      5. Make sure Shadows is 0.
      6. Leave Brightness as is.
      7. Set Contrast to 0.
      8. Make sure Saturation is 0.
         
    3. Set Workflow Options.  Tell me how
      1. Make sure Show Workflow Options, in the lower left corner, is checked.
      2. Set Color Space to ProPhoto RGB.
      3. Set bit depth.  Use 16 bits/channel if you expect to make lots of adjustments and/or drastic changes and your computer has the power and storage to handle the larger size of 16 bit images.  Use 8 bits/channel if you do not expect to make many changes and want to conserve disk space by keeping file sizes to a minimum.
      4. Set Size.  Unless you have a specific need, the recommended setting is the one that does not have the minus - or plus + symbols as this is the native size of the file.
      5. Set Resolution.  Explain this
        1. What is resolution?
          1. This is not resampling.  This is how we specify how far apart the pixels in the image are spaced when printed.  If you have a 12 megapixel file whose resolution is 100 pixels per centimeter (cm) and another 12 megapixel file whose resolution is 200 pixels per cm, both files have the exact same number of pixels but have different resolutions.  The first file will be twice as big when printed than the second because it takes more centimeters to print all the pixels.  Do not arbitrarily select the lowest or highest resolution.
             
        2. What should it be set to?
          1. Set resolution to the value you use when your resize a file for printing.  Do not set camera raw resolution to the printer's print resolution.  Set it to the print file's resolution.  Usually this is a number between 200 and 360.  The Resolution page explains the difference between file resolution and print resolution.
             
    4. Set Sharpness and Noise values to zero.  Tell me how
      1. Click the Detail tab.
      2. Change Sharpness to 0.
      3. Set Luminance Smoothing to 0.
      4. Set Color Noise Reduction to 0.
         
    5. Set Chromatic Aberration to zero.  Tell me more
      1. First, what is chromatic aberration?
      2. Click the Lens tab.
      3. Make sure Fix Red/Cyan Fringe is 0.
      4. Make sure Fix Blue/Yellow Fringe is 0.
      5. Make sure Vignetting Amount is 0.
         
    6. Set Curve to linear.  Explain this
      1. Tell me why
        1. The curves listed in the drop down box are nothing more than classic S curves.  Applying a S curve to an image should be done in Photoshop and is explained later in the workflow.
           
      2. Tell me how to set to linear
        1. Click the Curve tab.
        2. In the Tone Curve drop down box, select Linear.
           
    7. Set Calibrate to zero.  Tell me how
      1. Click the Calibrate tab.
      2. Set all values to 0.
         
    8. Save the settings.  Tell me how
      1. To save as Camera Raw default settings, click the flyout menu Flyout menu next to the Settings drop down box and select Save New Camera Raw Defaults.
      2. As a backup, it is also recommended you save them as custom settings by clicking the flyout menu Flyout menu and select Save Settings.  Save the settings with a meaningful name, such as MyACRdefault, where ACR stands for Adobe Camera Raw.
         
    9. Set Preferences.  Tell me how
      1. Click the flyout menu Flyout menu next to the Settings drop down box and select Preferences.
      2. For Save image settings in, select Sidecar .xmp files.
      3. Apply sharpening to: Leave as is because sharpening was turned off in a previous step.
      4. Apply auto tone adjustments: Unchecked.
      5. Make defaults specific to camera serial number: Unchecked.
      6. Make defaults specific to camera ISO setting: Unchecked.
      7. For DNG File Handling, Ignore sidecar .xmp files should be unchecked.
      8. If you wish the DNG file to have a JPEG preview, check the checkbox.
         
    10. If you do not wish to work on this particular image, click Cancel.  Otherwise, continue to the steps below.

Camera Raw

 

The goal of the Camera Raw steps is to create an image with as much detail where desired and as few problems as possible.  It is not to create a final image.

 

Open Image

  1. Open the Raw file.  Tell me how
    1. Copy the Raw file to your computer's hard drive.
    2. Within Photoshop, click File > Browse.  This will open the Adobe Bridge program.  Adobe Bridge is an image file browser.  It is not Camera Raw.
    3. Using the Folder tab, browse to the desired image.  The image may have the following three icons: Camera Raw processed icon, Camera Raw cropped icon, and Camera Raw locked icon.  The first icon Camera Raw processed icon denotes the file has been previously processed in Camera Raw.  The second icon Camera Raw cropped icon denotes the file has been cropped in Camera Raw.  The third icon Camera Raw locked icon denotes the file has been locked by the digital camera.  Even though locked, the image can still be processed by Camera Raw.
    4. Double click the image to open the image in Camera Raw.  The caution icon Caution icon will be displayed until the image is fully open.
    5. If necessary, use the rotate icons Rotate clockwise icon Rotate counter clockwise icon to change the image to proper viewing orientation.
       
  2. In the Settings drop down box, select Camera Raw Defaults.  Tell me more
    1. In the Camera Raw Setup steps listed earlier in the workflow, you set Camera Raw's settings to the most common way you work and then saved those settings as the Camera Raw default.  When beginning to work on an image, it is best to start with your default settings.  If instead of saving your settings as the Camera Raw default, you saved them as XMP settings, use the flyout menu Flyout menu next to the Settings drop down box to load your settings.
       
  3. Verify the default settings.  Show me what to verify
    1. Settings: Camera Raw Defaults.  If it is not, click the drop down box's down arrow and select Camera Raw Defaults.
    2. Adjust tab.  Show Adjust tab defaults
      1. White Balance: As Shot
      2. Auto settings: unchecked
      3. Exposure: 0
      4. Shadows: 0
      5. Brightness: as is
      6. Contrast: 0
      7. Saturation: 0
      8. Make sure Show Workflow Options, in the lower left corner, is checked.
      9. Color Space: Set to the desired color space.
      10. Depth: Set to the desired bit depth.  Use 16 bits/channel if you expect to make lots of adjustments and/or drastic changes and your computer has the power and storage to handle the larger size of 16 bit images.  Use 8 bits/channel if you do not expect to make many changes and want to conserve disk space.
      11. Size: Set to the desired size.  Unless you have a specific need, the recommended setting is the one that does not have the minus - or plus + symbols as this is the native size of the file.
      12. Resolution: Set to the desired resolution.  Explain this
        1. What is resolution?
          1. This is not resampling.  This is how we specify how far apart the pixels in the image are spaced when printed.  If you have a 12 megapixel file whose resolution is 100 pixels per centimeter (cm) and another 12 megapixel file whose resolution is 200 pixels per cm, both files have the exact same number of pixels but have different resolutions.  The first file will be twice as big when printed than the second because it takes more centimeters to print all the pixels.  Do not arbitrarily select the lowest or highest resolution.
             
        2. What should it be set to?
          1. Set resolution to the value you use when your resize a file for printing.  Do not set Camera Raw resolution to the printer's print resolution.  Set it to the print file's resolution.  Usually this is a number between 200 and 360.  The Resolution page explains the difference between file resolution and print resolution.
             
    3. Detail tab.  Show Detail tab defaults
      1. Sharpness: 0
      2. Luminance Smoothing: 0
      3. Color Noise Reduction: 0
         
    4. Lens tab.  Show Lens tab defaults
      1. Fix Red/Cyan Fringe: 0
      2. Fix Blue/Yellow Fringe: 0
      3. Vignetting Amount: 0
         
    5. Curve tab.  Show Curve tab defaults
      1. Tone Curve: Linear
         
    6. Calibrate tab.  Show Calibrate tab defaults
      1. All values: 0
         
  4. Turn off the shadow and highlight warnings unless desired.
  5. Resize the Camera Raw window to maximize the display.

 

Articulate the Subject

  1. Tell me why
    1. If you do not have a firm understanding of the photograph's subject, it will not be possible to adjust and enhance the image in order to optimize the subject.  If someone were standing next to you, could you easily describe the subject to them?

 

Review Technical Aspects

  1. Tell me why
    1. Before making adjustments, you need to decide what needs to be adjusted in Camera Raw.  The following check list can help in making that decision.
       
  1. Show the check list
    1. Histogram.  Is it showing any undesirable clipping?
    2. Overall exposure.  Is the image too bright or too dark?  If underexposed, there is a greater chance of noise.
    3. Color Balance.  Is there an undesirable color cast to the image?
    4. Luminance noise.  Zoom in on the image and see if there is any luminosity noise.  Luminosity noise gives the image a grainy appearance in continuous toned areas, such as the sky.
    5. Color noise.  Zoom in on the image and see if there is any chromatic noise.  Chromatic noise appears as small colored speckles or spots in shadow areas.
       

 

Adjust in Camera Raw

  1. First cut white balance.  Explain this
    1. What is white balance?
      1. It is color balance.
         
    2. Why set white balance now?
      1. Many experts adjust tonality before adjusting color.  I find it difficult to concentrate on tonality if the overall color balance is wrong.  Therefore, I do a first cut of getting white balance reasonably correct before adjusting tonality.  Then I fine tune white balance later in the workflow.
         
    3. Tell me how
      1. Method 1 - Using the White Balance tool White Balance eyedropper, click on a white and/or neutral color in the image until a reasonable color balance is achieved.  Avoid clicking specular highlights, shadow areas, or dark colors.
      2. Method 2 - Using the White Balance drop down box, select each option in turn to find the one that gives a reasonable color balance.
         
  2. Tonal Adjustments.  Tell me how
    1. Review histogram.  Explain this
      1. Does the image have a narrow (low contrast) or broad (high contrast) tonal range?  If a low contrast image, be careful when adjusting exposure and shadows.  Too much adjusting on a narrow tonal range image can lead to excessive noise.
         
    2. Adjust Highlights.  Tell me how
      1. Alt + click (Option + click) the Exposure slider.  When the slider is Alt + clicked (Option + clicked), the image becomes a threshold display.  Where the threshold is white, the image will be solid white with no detail.  Where the threshold is a color, the image will be a highlight with detail.
      2. Move the slider so that only true image highlights are represented in the threshold display.  If the image has true whites, the slider should be moved until they are represented as such in the threshold display.
      3. Drag the slider to the right to brighten highlights and to the left to darken highlights.  Avoid washing out highlights.
         
    3. Adjust Shadows.  Tell me how
      1. Alt + click (Option + click) the Shadows slider.  When the slider is Alt + clicked (Option + clicked), the image becomes a threshold display.  Where the threshold is black, the image will be solid black with no detail.  Where the threshold is a color, the image will be a shadow area with detail.
      2. Move the slider so that only the dark tones are represented in the threshold display.  If the image has true black, the slider should be moved until it is represented as such in the threshold display. 
      3. Drag the slider to the right to darken shadows or to the left to lighten shadow areas.  Deep shadows should look rich and not grayish.
         
    4. Adjust mid tones later in Photoshop.  Tell me why
      1. The Brightness slider in Camera Raw is used to adjust mid tones.  However, it is this web author's opinion that mid tones should be corrected in Photoshop, not Camera Raw, using a Levels or Curves adjustment layer.  Adjusting mid tones using a Curves adjustment layer is explained later in the workflow.
         
    5. Adjust Contrast later in Photoshop.  Tell me why
      1. The Contrast slider in Camera Raw is used to adjust contrast.  However, it is this web author's opinion that contrast should be adjusted in Photoshop, not Camera Raw, using a Levels adjustment layer.  Adjusting contrast is explained later in the workflow.
         
  3. Color Adjustments.  Tell me how
    1. Set final White Balance.  Show the various methods
      1. Method 1: White Balance Tool
        1. Use either Method 1 or 2 if you used the Auto or Preset methods described in the Pre-capture Camera Setup steps.
        2. In Camera Raw, use the color sampler tool Color Sampler and place one or more color sampler targets Color Sampler target on white or neutral colors.  Do not place a target on specular highlights.  For each target, Camera Raw will display the individual RGB values.
        3. Using the White Balance tool White Balance eyedropper, click on a white and/or neutral color in the image until a reasonable color balance is achieved.  While clicking, check the RGB values of the color sampler targets.  The closer the three numeric values for a specific target are to each other, the more neutral the color has become.
        4. Click in the Temperature box and increase or decrease the value to fine tune color balance.  Increasing the temperature value makes the image more warm and moves the colors to the orange/red color range.  Decreasing the temperature value makes the image more cool and moves the colors to the blue/violet color range.  Again, check the RGB values of the color sampler targets as you change temperature.  Since the targets were placed on a neutral color, the closer the three numeric values are to each other, the more neutral white balance has made the color.  Do not try to get the values exactly the same.  Rarely are things perfectly neutral.
           
      2. Method 2: White Balance Drop Down Box
        1. Use either Method 1 or 2 if you used the Auto or Preset methods described in the Pre-capture Camera Setup steps.
        2. In Camera Raw, use the color sampler tool Color Sampler and place one or more color sampler targets Color Sampler target on white or neutral colors.  Do not place a target on specular highlights.  For each target, Camera Raw will display  the individual RGB values.
        3. Using the White Balance drop down box, select each option in turn to find the one that gives the best color balance.  Keep in mind that Camera Raw's settings of Daylight, Cloudy, etc. may not correlate exactly to your camera's pre-defined white balance settings with the same name.
        4. Click in the Temperature box and increase or decrease the value to fine tune color balance.  Increasing the temperature value makes the image more warm and moves the colors to the orange/red color range.  Decreasing the temperature value makes the image more cool and moves the colors to the blue/violet color range.  Again, check the RGB values of the color sampler targets as you change temperature.  Since the targets were placed on a neutral color, the closer the three numeric values are to each other, the more neutral white balance has made the color.  Do not try to get the values exactly the same.  Rarely are things perfectly neutral.
           
      3. Method 3: Semi-Custom
        1. If you used the Semi-Custom method described in the Pre-capture Camera Setup steps, open the image with the photographed gray card in Camera Raw.  Click the gray card using the White Balance tool White Balance eyedropper and record the Temperature and Tint values.  Close the image and re-open the image you wish to work on and set its Temperature and Tint to the values you just recorded.
           
      4. Method 4: Custom or Specific Method
        1. If you used either the Custom or Specific method described in the Pre-capture Camera Setup steps, set the White Balance drop down box to As Shot.
           
    2. Adjust Tint if needed.  Explain more
      1. The Tint slider can be used to correct any undesired green or magenta color cast.  Minus adds green and offsets magenta.  Plus adds magenta and offsets green.  If the color cast is neither green nor magenta, it can be removed later in Photoshop using a Levels adjustment layer.  This is explained later in the workflow.
         
    3. Adjust Saturation later in Photoshop.  Tell me why
      1. Saturation changes can easily be done in Photoshop using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.  An adjustment layer makes it easy to change the adjustment at a later date, if needed.  Plus, a layer mask can be used to confine the adjustment to certain areas of the image.  More information can be found on the Hue/Saturation page.
         
  4. Lens Aberration Corrections.  Tell me more
    1. Chromatic aberration.  Explain more
      1. First, what is chromatic aberration?
      2. Show the steps
        1. Click the Lens tab.
        2. Zoom into an area containing a dark edge with a strong contrast between the edge and its lighter background.  Look for fringing and note the dominant color of the fringe.  Then use one of the steps below to reduce the fringing.
        3. Red fringe - Use the Red/Cyan slider.  Move it to the right (greater than 0) to add cyan to offset the red fringe.
        4. Cyan fringe - Use the Red/Cyan slider.  Move it to the left (less than 0) to add red to offset the cyan fringe.
        5. Blue fringe - Use the Blue/Yellow slider.  Move it to the left (less than 0) to add yellow to offset the blue fringe.
        6. Yellow fringe - Use the Blue/Yellow slider.  Move it to the right (greater than 0) to add blue to offset the yellow fringe.
        7. Green fringe - Both sliders will need to be used.  To offset green, magenta needs to be added.  To add magenta, move the Red/Cyan slider to the left to add red and move the Blue/Yellow slider to the right to add blue.
        8. Magenta fringe - Both sliders will need to be used.  To offset magenta, green needs to be added.  To add green, move the Red/Cyan slider to the right and move the Blue/Yellow slider to the left.
           
    2. Vignetting.  Explain more
      1. First, what is vignetting?
      2. How does the adjustment work?
        1. Since vignetting is a darkening of image corners, the vignetting adjustment works by brightening image corners.  How much they are brightened and the area brightened are controlled by the sliders.
           
      3. What can be fixed?
        1. It can fix vignetting if it is limited to subject pixels being darkened.  If the corners are black or very dark because the object causing the vignetting was photographed instead of the subject, this cannot be fixed because the image pixels are of the offending object and not of the subject.
           
      4. Show the steps
        1. Click the Lens tab.
        2. Size the image in the Camera Raw window so the entire image is visible.
        3. Move the Vignetting Amount slider to the right (greater than 0) until the image corners are at the desired brightness.  At this time, do not be concerned if too much of the image is brightened.  This will be adjusted in the next step.  Note: Moving the slider to the left (less than 0), will increase vignetting.
        4. Move the Vignetting Midpoint slider to the right (50 or higher) to decrease the area being adjusted.  Move the slider to the left (less than 50) to increase the area being adjusted.
        5. Click the Preview checkbox on and off, or press the P key on the keyboard, to review the correction.
           
  5. Noise Correction.  Tell me how
    1. First, what is noise?
    2. Click on the Details tab.
    3. In the Camera Raw window, set the Zoom Level to more than 100%.  Using the Hand tool Hand tool, move the image around and look for luminance noise in continuous tone areas.  Luminance noise gives the image a grainy appearance.  If the grainy appearance looks like colored speckles or spots, it is chromatic noise and not luminance noise.
    4. Use the Luminance Smoothing slider to reduce the amount of noise.  Too much correction can adversely affect the overall image.  If a Luminance Smoothing adjustment is made, be aware this may affect subject detail.
    5. Now use the Hand tool Hand tool and look for chromatic noise in the shadow areas.  Chromatic noise appears as small colored speckles or spots.
    6. Use the Color Noise Reduction slider to reduce the amount of chromatic noise.  Too much correction can adversely affect the overall image.  If a Color Noise Reduction adjustment is made, be aware this may affect subject color.
    7. After making the adjustments, review other areas of the image to see if detail and/or color are affected in an undesirable manner.
    8. Finally, set the Zoom Level back to Fit in View and turn Preview on and off to determine if the adjustments have improved or degraded the image.  If noise correction has affected the overall color, you may wish to tweak White Balance.
       
  6. Spatial Corrections  Tell me how
    1. Fit image in the Camera Raw window.
    2. Crop.  Crop any undesirable edges using the Crop tool Crop toolTell me how to undo or change the crop
      1. Crops can be undone or changed in a Raw file at any time, even after the file has been saved and closed.  To undo or change a crop, open the Raw file in Camera Raw.
      2. Click the Crop tool Crop tool.  A transform selection grid will be displayed around the image.
      3. Option 1 - Resize the crop area by grabbing and moving a side or corner handle.
      4. Option 2 - Move the crop area by placing the cursor inside the crop area until the cursor changes to the move icon Move tool, then click and drag the selection grid to the new location.
      5. Option 3 - Remove the crop area entirely by pressing the Esc key.
         
    3. Alignment.  Correct horizontal and vertical alignment problems using the Straighten tool Straighten tool. Tell me more
      1. Show the steps
        1. Size the image in the Camera Raw window so the entire image is visible.
        2. Find an imaginary line in the image that should be vertical or horizontal.  If the objects in the image have edges that should be vertical or horizontal, such as a building, then use an edge as the imaginary line.
        3. Zoom in on the imaginary line.
        4. Using the Straighten tool Straighten tool, draw a line that is parallel to the imaginary line.  Do not try to draw the line perfectly vertical or horizontal.  Draw it parallel to the imaginary line.  Camera Raw uses the line you draw to determine what should be vertical and horizontal.  The line does not have to be drawn the full height or width of the photograph.
        5. Release the left mouse button.  A rotated selection grid will be displayed.  The image will still look misaligned in Camera Raw.  However, when the image is opened in Photoshop, Camera Raw will crop and rotate the image.
           
      2. Tell me how to undo
        1. Alignment corrections can be undone or changed in a Raw file at any time, even after the file has been saved and closed.  To undo or change an alignment, open the Raw file in Camera Raw.
        2. Click the Crop tool Crop tool, not the Straighten tool.  A transform selection grid will be displayed around the image.
        3. Remove the alignment correction by pressing the Esc key.
        4. To change the alignment, use the Straighten tool Straighten tool as described above.
           
  7. Final Review.  Tell me how
    1. Fit the entire image in the Camera Raw window.
    2. Review the histogram.  Is there any undesirable clipping?  If so, use the Exposure and Shadow sliders on the Adjust tab.
    3. Click the Shadows checkbox on and off.  Are the shadow areas where you expect? Are the blacks deep and rich?  If not, use the Shadow slider on the Adjust tab.
    4. Click the Highlights checkbox on and off.  Are the highlight areas where you expect?  Are the whites clean?  If not, use the Exposure slider on the Adjust tab.
    5. Click the Adjust tab.
    6. Click the Preview checkbox on and off, or press the P key on the keyboard, to review all adjustments.  Be sure you are on the Adjust tab when you do this step.
    7. Is the image finished and ready to print or display?  If so, you probably did too much in Camera Raw.  Explain this
      1. Camera Raw is not image editing software.  It is file conversion software.  Its purpose is to prepare a Raw file for an image editing program, such as Photoshop.  You want to use Camera Raw to convert a Raw file to an image file with as much detail where needed and as few problems as possible.

 

Save and Open

  1. Add copyright information to the metadata.  Tell me how
    1. Right click the image preview or thumbnail.
    2. Click File Info.
    3. In the left side of the dialog box, make sure Description is highlighted.
    4. Change the Copyright Status drop down box to Copyrighted.
    5. In the Copyright Notice text box, type Copyright © year name_of_copyright_owner.  Year should be the four digit year the image was originally created.  Name of copyright owner should be the first and last name of the individual, or the name of the business, owning the copyright.  For example, if the image was taken in 2006 and is owned by Ian Cooper, then the copyright notice would be Copyright © 2006 Ian Cooper.  To create the copyright symbol, type Alt + 0169 (Option G).  Windows users should make certain they use the numeric keypad on their keyboard and not the top row of keys.
    6. If you have a web page containing additional copyright information, enter the complete URL in the Copyright Info URL text box.  For example, www.yourdomain.com/legal/copyright.htm.  Test the URL reference by clicking the Go To URL button.
       
  2. Save as DNG.  Explain this
    1. Tell me why
      1. The DNG format is Adobe's open source Raw format.  Your camera's Raw format is a manufacturer proprietary format specific to the camera's make and model.  Years from now if that specific format is no longer supported, there could be issues in trying to process the file in the future.  The DNG format is intended to provide future compatibility.  Therefore, saving a copy of your Raw file in the DNG format is part of a file archive strategy.
         
    2. Tell me how to save in DNG format
      1. Click Save.
      2. In Destination, select the folder the file is to be saved to.
      3. Give it a meaningful name.
      4. Select .dng as file extension.
      5. For Format, select Digital Negative.
      6. Compression can be checked or unchecked.
      7. Convert to Linear Image should be unchecked.
      8. Embed Original Raw File should be checked.
      9. If you want a JPEG Preview, select the quality.
      10. Click the Save button.
         
    3. Tell me how to restore the original capture from the DNG file
      1. When the image was saved in the DNG format in the previous step, it was saved with the Camera Raw adjustments applied to the image.  Therefore, it does not represent the image as originally captured by the digital camera.  However, the Raw adjustments can be discarded to return to the original capture using the following steps.
      2. Open Adobe Bridge by clicking File > Browse in Photoshop.
      3. Use the Folders tab to browse to the DNG file.
      4. Make sure the DNG file is displayed in the Bridge window, not Camera Raw.
      5. Either right click the image and select Clear Camera Raw Settings, or click Edit > Apply Camera Raw Settings > Clear Camera Raw Settings.  The Camera Raw adjustments will be permanently removed.
         
  3. Open in Photoshop.  Show me the options
    1. Open - Creates the XMP sidecar file with all adjustment instructions, opens the image in Photoshop with all adjustments applied, and closes Camera Raw.
    2. Done - Creates the XMP sidecar file with all adjustment instructions.  Closes Camera Raw.  Does not open the image in Photoshop.
    3. Save - Opens the Save Options dialog box.  Allows the file to be saved in the dng, jpeg, tiff, or psd format.
    4. Alt Save (Option Save).  Saves the image using whatever settings were last used in the Save Options dialog.  The caution icon Caution icon will be displayed while the image is being saved.
    5. Cancel - Closes Camera Raw without saving or applying any Camera Raw adjustments.

Photoshop

 

Artistic Evaluation

In this phase we are evaluating the artistic merits of the image.

  1. Set the image to full screen.  Tell me how
    1. Ctrl + zero (Command + zero) to fit the image on the screen.
    2. Type the letter f until in full screen mode with a gray or black border.
       
  2. Articulate the subject.  Tell me why
    1. If you do not have a firm understanding of the photograph's subject, it will not be possible to adjust and enhance the image in order to optimize the subject.  If someone were standing next to you, could you easily describe the subject to them?
       
  3. Review the artistic dimensional qualities of the image.  Tell me what this means
    1. Physical dimensions: Landscape or Portrait Tell me more
      1. The physical dimensions of height and width of a photograph should be used to compliment and enhance the image.  This is accomplished by the orientation of the image.  Evaluate the image to determine which orientation best suits the image:  landscape or portrait.
         
    2. Compositional dimension: Attract, Invite, Retain Tell me more
      1. (I find viewing the image on the monitor from across the room helps me critically evaluate it.)
      2. Photographic images have two physical dimensions and what I call the Compositional dimension.  The most important dimension is the Compositional dimension.  This dimension is more than color, more than depth of field, more than the rule of thirds, etc.  These are the visual design elements.  The Compositional dimension is the ability of the image to get the viewer's attention, pull them in, keep them there and not let them wander away until they have experienced what you want to show them.  This is the dimension where the viewer's experience occurs.  It is through the visual experience that we touch the viewer's emotions.
      3. Attract.  What is it about the image that will attract the viewer?
      4. Invite.  What is the entry portal?  Where does the viewer's attention enter the image?  Or will their eyes wander around trying to figure out where to begin?
      5. Retain.  Does the image keep the viewer's attention?  Or does it confuse/frustrate the viewer and cause them to leave?
         
  4. Evaluate visual design elements. Tell me more
    1. There are many visual design elements, such as depth of field, color, etc.  Listed here are some questions that can be used to evaluate the design aspects of an image.  Show me the questions
      1. Does the image portray the subject?
      2. Does the subject fill the frame?  Does the subject command the viewer's attention?
      3. Is the background neutral, enhance the subject or distract the viewer?
      4. Is the subject appropriately placed in the image?  See the rule of thirds.
      5. Is there room for moving objects to move into?  If the subject has eyes, is there room for them to look into?
      6. Are there hidden objects along the edges?
      7. Is the image busy or cluttered?
      8. Are the colors appropriate for the subject?
         
  5. Make a note of any needed enhancing or correcting adjustments.

 

Technical Evaluation

In this step, we review the image to evaluate its technical strengths and weaknesses.  We are not making adjustments in this phase.

  1. Tell me why
    1. In the Artistic and Technical Evaluation phases, we are laying the foundation for what we need to do in order to create the image we want.  Take the time to think through what you want so you can make the proper decisions of how to get there.
  1. Evaluate exposure.
  2. Evaluate overall contrast.
  3. Evaluate overall color balance.
  4. Evaluate tonal distribution by reviewing the histogram.
  5. Evaluate specific tones.  A good way to evaluate tone is to temporarily turn the image black and white.  Tell me how
    1. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
    2. Set Saturation to -100 and click OK to close the dialog box.
    3. Set the adjustment layer's blending mode to Color.  If left to Normal, you will not be evaluating the correct tones.
    4. Delete, or turn off the visibility of, the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer when finished evaluating tone.
       
  6. Evaluate focus.  Both of the subject and the background.
  7. Evaluate alignment and perspective: vertical, horizontal and rotational.
  8. Look for noise in the shadow areas.
  9. Look for fringing in the highlight areas.
  10. Look for detail in the shadow areas.
  11. Make a note of any needed enhancing or correcting adjustments.

 

Reset Photoshop Tools

While working on a previous image, tool options may have been changed to achieve a certain effect.  If these options are not reset, then the next time the tool is used, it may not give the desired results.  Below is a check list of common tools and their usual settings.

  1. Show the check list
    1. Marquee Selection tool Marquee Selection tool.  Activate the tool and set Feather to 0 px and Style to Normal.
    2. Magic Wand tool Magic Wand tool.  Activate the tool and set Tolerance to your usual level.  Turn on Anti-alias.  Set Contiguous and Sample All Layers to your usual settings.
    3. Brush tool Brush tool.  Activate the tool and set Mode to Normal, Opacity to 100% and Flow to 100%.
    4. Clone Stamp tool Clone Stamp tool.  Activate the tool and set Mode to Normal, Opacity to 100% and Flow to 100%.  Set Aligned and Sample All Layers to your usual settings.
    5. Eraser tool Eraser tool.  Activate the tool and set Mode to Brush, Opacity to 100% and Flow to 100%.
    6. Paint Bucket tool Paint Bucket tool.  Set to Foreground, Mode to Normal, Opacity to 100% and Tolerance to 255.  Turn on Anti-alias, turn off Contiguous, and turn off All Layers.
    7. Gradient tool Gradient Tool.  Active the Gradient tool.  It shares the same spot as the Paint Bucket tool in the Tools panel.  In the Options bar, click the gradient drop down box to open the Gradient Editor.  Move the left most Color Stop handle Color Stop handle to the left until Location says 0%.
    8. Move tool Move tool.  Set Auto Select to your usual preference.
    9. Curves adjustment layer.  The next time you create a Curves adjustment layer, use the double arrow Double Arrow in the X axis gradient to switch the gradient so black is on the left and white is on the right.
    10. Snap option (View > Snap).  The Snap feature controls the behavior of Guides and certain tools, such as the Move and Crop tools, when they are used near an edge.  If the option is on, the tool will snap to the edge.  If the option is off, it will not snap.

 

Correct

  1. Correct lens distortion.
    1. Tell me more
      1. If the original image is in the Raw format, chromatic aberration and vignetting should be corrected in Camera Raw.  However, if the image has an undesired vertical, horizontal or rotational distortion caused by the lens or how the camera was positioned, this should be corrected in this step.  Distortion can be caused by such things as pointing a camera upward to photograph a tall building or using a wide angle lens that causes objects to appear to be leaning.
         
    2. Tell me how
      1. Click Filter > Distort > Lens Correction.  The Lens Correction dialog box will be displayed.
      2. Set the Edge Option.  The distortion correction options will rotate the image in order to remove the distortion.  This can result in transparent areas.  If you want Photoshop to fill in these transparent areas, set this option.
      3. Chromatic Aberration:  Zoom to.
      4. Vignetting:  Zoom.
      5. Barrel Distortion: Move the Remove Distortion slider to the right.
      6. Pincushion Distortion: Move the Remove Distortion slider to the left.
      7. Vertical Convergence: If vertical lines appear to be converging, move the Vertical Perspective slider to the left.
      8. Vertical Divergence: If vertical lines appear to be diverging, or separating, move the Vertical Perspective slider to the right.
      9. Horizontal Right Convergence:  If horizontal lines are converging on the right side, move the Horizontal Perspective slider to the right.
      10. Horizontal Left Convergence:  If horizontal lines are converging on the left side, move the Horizontal Perspective slider to the left.
      11. Rotation:  To rotate the image to a hundredth of a degree, use the Angle option.
         
  2. Perform a capture sharpen.
    1. Tell me why
      1. Capture sharpening is used to restore some of the softness introduced when the image was digitally captured.
         
    2. Tell me when I should not
      1. If the image was sharpened in Camera Raw, it should not be sharpened again.
         
    3. Who can tell me how?
      1. The book Real World Digital Photography 2nd Edition, pages 513 - 519.
      2. The e-book John Shaw's Photoshop Field Guide, pages 141 - 152.
      3. The book Real World Adobe Photoshop CS, pages 475 - 506.
      4. A for-purchase sharpener plug in at www.pixelgenius.com
         
  3. Lock the image layer.
    1. Tell me why
      1. Rarely does one want to make changes directly to the image layer.  To prevent the accidental changing of the image layer, it can be locked.
      2. If the image layer is the Background layer, it will be partially locked by default.  However, the partial lock will not prevent the layer from being changed.  The Background layer lock only locks its position.  It still allows pixels to be changed.
         
    2. Tell me how
      1. If the image layer is the Background layer, double click the layer name Background in the Layers panel.  In the New Layer dialog box, type a new name and click OK.  With the image layer still the active layer, click the solid lock icon Lock icon at the top of the Layers panel.
      2. If the image layer is not the Background layer, make the layer active by clicking it in the Layers panel.  Then click the solid lock icon Lock icon at the top of the Layers panel to lock the layer.
         
  1. Remove defects.  Tell me how
    1. Create a normal layer above the image layer and name it Clone and activate the Clone Stamp tool Clone Stamp tool.  Leave the Clone layer the active layer.  Make sure Use All Layers is checked in the Options bar.  Set the Aligned option as needed.  If capture sharpening was done on another layer, make sure the Clone layer is above the sharpened layer.
    2. Zoom to view actual pixel size.
    3. Using a 'reading' pattern (either down-right-up-right-repeat; or, right-down-left-down-repeat ), review the image and using a soft edged brush, clone out any defects.  Soft edged brushes are available on the Downloads page.
       
  2. Color correct.  Tell me how
    1. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set Saturation to +100.
    2. Look for undesirable color casts, especially magentas and cyans.
    3. Delete the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.
    4. Find the lightest and darkest parts of the image.  Finding these parts of an image is discussed on the Finding Lightest and Darkest Areas page.
    5. Refer to the Levels Color Correction page or the Curves Color Correction page to make the color corrections.
       
  3. Spot Color Replacement. Tell me more
    1. Color Correction, as used in this workflow, is the removal of unwanted color casts by neutralizing blacks, grays and/or whites.  Color correction was discussed in the previous step.
    2. Color Replacement is the changing of an object's hue without changing its underlining tone and texture.  Color replacement is explained on the Spot Color Replacement page.
    3. Color Balance, as used in this workflow, is the changing or enhancing of an image's color bias toward a primary or secondary color.  Color balance adjustment is discussed under the Enhancement phase.
       
  4. Remove red eye. Tell me how
    1. From the Downloads page, download the red eye removal Channel Mixer adjustment and follow the instructions.

 

Enhance

  1. Set overall contrast.  Tell me how
    1. In order to perform this step, you must have an understanding of histograms and the Photoshop Levels adjustment.  Read the Histogram page and the Levels pages to gain an understanding of these topics.
    2. If you already understand histograms and Levels, then the Increase Contrast section on the Level page explains how to adjust for overall contrast.
       
  2. Adjust color balance.  Tell me how
    1. Refer to the Color Balance page.
       
  3. Adjust local tones.  Tell me how by...
    1. Dodge and burn
      1. Dodging and burning using a single overlay layer is discussed on the Dodging and Burning page.
         
    2. Tonal range
      1. Create either a Levels or Curves adjustment layer.
      2. Make the desired adjustment.  Depending on how Levels or Curves is used, the adjustment can be restricted to a certain range of tones.  For a detailed explanation of how to use Levels or Curves, see either the Levels pages or the Curves pages.
      3. Click OK to close the dialog box.
      4. Change the blending mode to Luminosity since this is a tonal, and not a color, change.
         
    3. Selections and masks
      1. Using one of the selection tools, draw the selection.
      2. Create either a Levels or Curves adjustment layer.  The selection will become a layer mask.
      3. Make the desired adjustment.  For a detailed explanation of how to use Levels or Curves, see either the Levels pages or the Curves pages.
      4. Click OK to close the dialog box.
      5. Change the blending mode to Luminosity since this is a tonal, and not a color, change.
         
    4. Darkening or Lightening mid tones
      1. A Curves adjustment that darkens mid tones without affecting highlights or shadows can be found on the Downloads page.
      2. A Curves adjustment that lightens mid tones without affecting highlights or shadows can be found on the Downloads page.
         
    5. Color channel
      1. Create either a Levels or Curves adjustment layer.
      2. In the Channel drop down box, select the desired channel.
      3. Make the desired adjustment.  For a detailed explanation of how to use Levels or Curves, see either the Levels pages or the Curves pages.
      4. Click OK to close the dialog box.
      5. Change the blending mode to Luminosity since this is a tonal, and not a color, change.
         
    6. Color range
      1. Using the technique described on the Using Levels and Curves with Color Ranges page, select the desired color range.
      2. Create either a Levels or Curves adjustment layer. The selected color range will become a layer mask.
      3. Make the desired adjustment.  For a detailed explanation of how to use Levels or Curves, see either the Levels pages or the Curves pages.
      4. Click OK to close the dialog box.
      5. Change the blending mode to Luminosity since this is a tonal, and not a color, change.
         
  4. Bring out shadow detail and/or soften highlights.  Tell me different ways how
    1. The spot dodge and burn method described above can be used.
    2. Curves can be used to bring out shadow detail by lightening it.  An in-depth explanation of the Curves control can be found on the Curves page.
    3. The Photoshop CS Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight command can be used.  Since this is a destructive method, I prefer to create a copy of the image layer and then apply the Shadow/Highlight to the copy.  Once applied, a layer mask can be created on the copy and then the mask can be painted with black or white paint to either hide or show the effect.
       
  5. Adjust color richness.  Tell me different ways how
    1. Option 1.  Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and move the Saturation slider to the right to increase saturation or move the slider to the left to decrease saturation.
    2. Option 2 (preferred).  Create a Vibrance adjustment layer.  Move the Vibrance slider to the right to increase the saturation of less saturated colors only.  To increase the saturation of all colors, move the Saturation slider to the right.  Move the sliders to the left to decrease saturation.
    3. Whichever technique you use, apply it sparingly to avoid creating out of gamut colors.
       
  6. Convert to black and white (optional).  Tell me how
    1. Creating black and white images from color images is discussed on the Color to Black and White pages.
       
  1. If a black and white image, adjust black and white tones.
    1. Tell me why
      1. After converting an image to black and white, sometimes it is desired to apply additional tonal adjustments to the image based on black and white luminance.  This is where these adjustments are made.
         
    2. Tell me how
      1. Use the same techniques as described in the Adjust Local Tones step above.  However, selecting by color range or by color channel has to be done in the previous step since above the black and white conversion layer, there is no color to choose from.  If you wish to learn more about retaining full color information in a black and white image, you may wish to read the Tone Management System pages.
         
  1. Review histogram.  Tell me why
    1. One should periodically review an image's histogram throughout the workflow.  But at this step, it is particularly important since adjustments to contrast, color balance, tone, shadows, highlights, etc. may have been made.
       
  1. Create the crop area mask.
    1. Tell me more
      1. In this step, you are not actually cropping the image.  Instead, you are creating a selection or mask to show the area to be cropped.  This allows you to evaluate the effect before the image is actually cropped.  The technique shown below is the web author's favorite.  But additional techniques for creating a crop area mask can be found on the Creating A Crop Area Mask page.
         
    2. Tell me how
      1. Create a new layer by clicking Layer > New > Layer.  Or, by clicking the Create a new layer icon New layer icon on the bottom of the Layers panel.  Name it something meaningful, such as Crop Area Mask.
      2. If the new layer is not the top most layer, drag it to the top.
      3. Click Select > All.  This will create a selection around the entire image.
      4. Click Select > Transform Selection.  This changes the selection outline into a selection grid.
      5. Grab the middle handle of the edge(s) to be cropped and drag the handle into the image until the unwanted pixels are outside the transformation box.
      6. For precise cropping, use the rulers (View > Rulers) or the width and height values in the Info panel to see exactly where the selection borders are.
      7. Press Enter to make the resized selection active.  Or, press Esc to cancel the transformation selection.
      8. Click Select > Inverse.
      9. Type the letter d to set the default foreground/background colors and type the letter x until black is the foreground color Black Foreground.
      10. Using the paint bucket tool Paint bucket tool, fill the selected area with black, or any other color of your choice.  The web author uses 30% gray because this matches the gray surrounding the document when the document is in full screen mode.
      11. Click Select > Deselect to remove the selection outline.
      12. Click the eye icon eye icon of the crop area mask layer on and off to see the effect of the crop.
         
  1. Check layer order.
    1. Tell me what this means
      1. When working with an image in Photoshop, it is common to create multi-layered files.  The order in which these layers are stacked is as important as what the layer does.  The checklist below serves as a suggested stacking order.  It starts off with the top most layer.  Very few images will have all the layers listed here.  The checklist is for both color and black and white images.
         
    2. Show me the checklist
      1. Crop Area Mask layer.
      2. Local sharpen layer.
      3. Black and white tonal adjustment layers.
      4. Black and white conversion adjustment layer.
      5. Shadow detail layer.
      6. Local tonal adjustment layers.
      7. Color balance adjustment layer.
      8. Overall contrast adjustment layer.
      9. Red eye removal adjustment layer.
      10. Color correction adjustment layer.
      11. Clone layer.
      12. Capture sharpen layer.
      13. Image layer as the bottom most layer.
         
  2. Save the master file in a lossless format, such as TIFF or PSD.

 

Pre-Print

  1. Duplicate the file.  The duplicate will become the print file.  Close the master file.
  2. Soft proof and fix out of gamut colors.  Tell me how
    1. Read how to soft proof and fix out of gamut colors on the Soft Proofing and Correcting Out of Gamut Colors page.
       
  3. Double check layer order.  Show me the checklist
    1. Crop Area Mask layer.
    2. Out of gamut correction layer.
    3. Local sharpen layer.
    4. Black and white tonal adjustment layers.
    5. Black and white conversion adjustment layer.
    6. Shadow detail layer.
    7. Local tonal adjustment layers.
    8. Color balance adjustment layer.
    9. Overall contrast adjustment layer.
    10. Red eye removal adjustment layer.
    11. Color correction adjustment layer.
    12. Clone layer.
    13. Capture sharpen layer.
    14. Image layer as the bottom most layer.
       
  4. Merge all layers, if not already flattened.
  5. Crop and resize image for printing.  Tell me how
    1. An image can be cropped and resized to fit a pre-defined output size, to best fit the image, in its entirety, or based on a previously created crop area mask.  All of these methods are explained on the Cropping and Resizing page.
    2. As part of cropping and resizing, the Crop Area Mask layer, if one was created, will be deleted.
       
  6. Convert to 8 bit.  Tell me more
    1. If the image is 16 bit and the print engine cannot process 16 bit images, convert the image to 8 bit by clicking Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel.
       
  1. Add a S curve.
    1. Tell me more
      1. A S curve is a popular adjustment that increases contrast in the mid tones while decreasing contrast in shadows and highlights.  This helps focus attention on the mid tone areas.  While popular, no adjustment should be made to an image unless the resulting effect is desired.  There is also the reverse S curve, which decreases contrast in the mid tones while increasing contrast in shadows and highlights.
         
    2. Tell me how
      1. From the Downloads page, download the S curve (or the reverse S curve) and follow the instructions.  Remember to set blending mode to Luminosity.  Do not get the S curve adjustment and the black point/white point adjustment confused.  Though they may look similar at first glance, they are not and are entirely different adjustments.
         
  1. Add black point/white point Curve adjustment.  Tell me how
    1. From the Downloads page, download the printer black and white point adjustment and follow the instructions.  Remember to set blending mode to Luminosity.  An in-depth explanation of black and white points can be found on the Printing Topics pages.
       
  1. Output sharpen.
    1. Tell me why
      1. Output sharpening is done to 'over sharpen' an image to make up for some loss of sharpness when printed.
         
    2. Who can tell me how?
      1. The same resources listed under capture sharpening.
         
  1. If a black and white image, add any desired toning effects.  Tell me how
    1. From the Downloads page, download the Black and White Tones zip file and follow the instructions.  Remember to set the blending mode to Color.  Read about black and white toning on the Black and White Toning page.
       
  1. Darken corners.
    1. Tell me why
      1. Darkening image corners is a technique used to keep a viewer's attention inside the image.  Not all images need this.  But when done properly, it should be very subtle.
         
    2. Tell me how
      1. Refer to the Levels-Darken Corners page.
         
  1. Add watermark/copyright symbol, etc.  Tell me how to create symbols
    1. Set the foreground color Foreground/Background icon to the color you want the symbol to be.
    2. Create a new layer by clicking the Create a new layer icon Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
    3. Activate the Type tool Type tool and click in the document.  The layer created in the previous step should become a Type layer.
    4. Set the desired font family, style and size.
    5. As you type, Windows users should make certain they use the numeric keypad on their keyboard and not the top row of keys.  Show me the list of symbols
      1. To create ©, type Alt + 0169 (Option G).
      2. To create ®, type Alt + 0174 (Option R).
      3. To create ™, type Alt + 0153 (Option H).
      4. To create £, type Alt + 0163 (Option 3).
         
  2. Add an edge. Tell me how
    1. To add an edge to an image, read the Add or Stroke an Edge page.
       
  3. Final layer order check.  Show me the checklist
    1. Edge layer as the topmost layer.
    2. Watermark, copyright notice layer.
    3. Darken corners adjustment layer.  Please note that darkening corners can offset the black/white point adjustment for the corner areas and vice versa if you switch the two.
    4. Black and white toning adjustment layer.
    5. Output sharpen layer.
    6. Black/white point adjustment layer.
    7. S curve adjustment layer.
    8. Flattened image layer as the bottom most layer.
       
  4. Flatten the image if the print engine cannot process a layered file.
  5. If using RIP software to print the image and the software cannot process a file with alpha channels, color sampler targets, notes or other non-image content, remove these objects from the print file.
  6. Use Image > Rotate Canvas to orient (portrait or landscape) the image as needed.  Usually, printing orientation is portrait even for images whose visual orientation is landscape.
  7. Save the print file in a lossless format, such as TIFF, that can be processed by the print software.

 

Print

  1. Make sure the proper inks are loaded for the paper being used.  For example, is the black ink in the printer correct for the type of paper, matte or glossy, being used?
  2. Print a nozzle check pattern if it has been a while since last using the printer.  Perform a nozzle cleaning if necessary.
  3. Load the paper and print.  Tell me how
    1. To print using Photoshop, read the Photoshop Printing page.
    2. To print using a RIP, read the RIP Printing page.
       
  4. Leave the print in the output tray for about 15 minutes to allow the ink to finish drying.

 

Print Evaluation

When evaluating a print, you are reviewing it from both an artistic and technical perspective.

  1. Review the print in the same type of light it will be displayed in, especially if it is black and white.  This will help you find any unwanted color casts.
  2. First, view the image from the other side of the room.  This will help you spot glaring errors.
  3. Second, review the print from a typical viewing distance.  This allows you to evaluate the print from the same perspective as its future viewers.
  4. Third, review the print with a magnifying glass (not a loupe).  This allows you to locate any problems not found by the previous steps.
  5. Are the blacks rich and deep?
  6. Are the whites clean?
  7. Is there detail in the shadow/highlight areas where you want them?
  8. Look for banding in large areas of continuous tone, such as the sky.
  9. Look for subtle color casts, especially in the shadow areas.

 

Post-print

  1. Cure the print.  Tell me how
    1. Lay the print flat, image side up, in an area where it will not be disturbed and not in direct sunlight.
    2. Cover it with plain white paper for about two days for glossy type paper, shorter for matte paper, to allow the ink to finish curing.  The plain paper protects the print from dust and dirt and will help draw out any gases released by the ink solvents (known as outgassing) as it cures.  Make sure you allow the print to cure before framing it.

 

File Archive

When finished, make backup copies of the original, master and print files.  Always make two backup copies.

  1. Tell me how
    1. If using off-line storage, use a stable medium such as CD-R.  Rewritable off-line storage, such as CD-RW or CD+RW, have not proven as stable as the write-once media.  Store the two copies on separate media and store the media in different places.
    2. If using online storage (which is the preferred method), such as external hard drives, make sure the two copies are on two separate drives, and not on the same drive as the original master file.  Putting both copies of the files on the same hard drive is not good backup management.
       

 

Present

Conservation frame.

  1. Tell me why
    1. If you used archival paper and ink to create the image, you will also want to use non-destructive methods and archival materials when framing to protect the image from atmospheric contaminates, light and insects.
       
  2. Tell me how
    1. Mounting - Consider mounting the image using conservation grade paper hinges on the top edge only and mount on acid-free, lignin-free, non-buffered backing (e.g. 100% cotton rag).  If the material is buffered, then it was buffered to neutralize the acid content.  Once the buffering wears off, the acid could contaminate the image.  Avoid dry mounts, either hot or cold, or adhesive mounts.  These are all permanent methods.
    2. Mat - Always use something to separate the image from the glazing.  Spacers can be used, but most often, a mat is used.  The mat should be acid-free, lignin-free, non-buffered.
    3. Glazing - Use either UV absorbing glass or acrylic.  Acrylic is lighter, shatter-resistant and cheaper to ship.  However, it requires more care when cleaning and scratches easier than glass.  If framing an image with an exaggerated oblong shape, such as a panoramic, consider using acrylic and not glass because acrylic can withstand torque better than glass.
    4. Seal - Once assembled, seal the back of the frame with a conservation grade paper or film to keep dust out.
    5. Display out of direct sunlight.  Avoid fluorescent light if possible.  Hang in an area of average temperature and humidity.

Tip

To print this page, click the Print Friendly icon at the top of the page.  Once the print friendly page is open, click the Show All Detail Steps link to open all collapsible lists.  Then click the Print this page link.