BEFORE & AFTER EDITING TECHNIQUE | FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

Here it is! My first ever before/after comparisons! I’ve always stayed away from these type of blog posts for a few reasons. One, I think it’s boring in the sense that I don’t really do much editing. I try to nail it as close to final as possible straight out of camera so there is not a huge difference.  Second, I honestly didn’t think it’s helpful since everybody’s editing style is different. I didn’t see how posting my editing techniques could help other photographers.  So why did I decide to finally do it? First of all, I came upon this brand new preset that has been created by one of the best hybrid shooter (digital/film) out there, Kirk Mastin with Mastin Studios out of Seattle, Washington. He shoots in both digital & film format, and seamlessly edit the digital files to look like film. If you’ve been following my work over the years, stylistically it really hasn’t changed all that much. But it has definitely been evolving to be more film like. I love the look of film and I’ve been shooting film here and there. Nothing for paid client, yet. But I definitely enjoy the creative process with a film camera. It forces me to focus, and really think about the shots before I take them. I think overall it makes me a better photographer.  So when I came upon the new preset by Mastin Studio, I immediately jumped on it and it changed my entire workflow. With all the other presets I’ve used before, none of which I could apply to ALL of my photos and have it look close to final product. Mastin’s preset is the only one I can apply to all of my photos and still have a consistent look. Before we get into the actual editing, I want to make the following clear.  I shoot 100% in manual mode. Exposure, ISO, Aperture, and White Balance. Being able to stay consistent in my exposure & white balance really helps me shorten my editing time on the back end.  And I also edit 99% of the time in Adobe Lightroom.

You can check out Mastin Lab’s preset by CLICKING HERE.

For Mastin’s preset, it’s film emulator preset that is modeled after the very popular Portra 400 film. You can fine tune it further by following options;

  •  All Hard – Increased contrast in shadows and highlights. For images that need ‘pop.’ Especially good for images that are hazy due to flare.
  • All Soft -Shadow and highlight recovery. Brings both back to keep and image from clipping/blowing out/blocking up. Similar to HDR in look. Can look cartoonish, but can also save an image with extreme contrast range.
  • Highlight Hard – Highlight contrast is increased. Shadows are standard. Adds pop without blocking up shadows
  • Highlight Soft – Highlights are recovered. Shadows are standard. Great for bright skies
  • Shadow Hard – Shadow contrast is increased. Highlights are standard. Adds pop without blowing out highlights.
  • Shadow Soft – Shadows are recovered. Highlights are standard. Great for adding pop without blowing out highlights.
  • 35mm Grain
  • Medium Format Grain

Each fine tuning option will give it a different look. And the options are modeled after real film scanners!  For example, highlight soft will bring back the highlights in the image, and shadow soft will bring back all the lowlights.

All of the examples I’m showing is from Joe & Christine’s super cool engagement session from a dry lakebed in Palmdale, CA.  And all images on the left is before, right is after.  I’ll briefly talk about what I did to each image to get it the ‘look’ I like. Here it goes!

ABOVE IMAGE

  • Exposure | +0.15
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 6000
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), Shadow Soft.
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/3200

This image was pretty much ready to go straight out of camera. I applied the preset upon import, and I underexposed the image just a tad to preserve the highlights in Christine’s dress. I also used Shadow Soft preset to preserve all the low lights in Joe’s dark grey suit.

  • Exposure | -0.15
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 6000
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), Shadow Soft.
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/1600

The preset deals extremely well with backlit photos. Which is what I like to look for when I shoot. After the preset was applied, it was a little too warm so I pulled back white balance just a tad from 6000 to 5700. Again I used highlight soft to preserve all the higlights in her dress, also bring back some of the background.

  • Exposure | +.40
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5700 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), highlight soft.
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.8, 1/2500

As we were shooting the sun is getting lower and lower. And the light quality changed from cooler to warmer. I still wanted to maintain a consistent look for the set, so I dropped my white balance from 6000 to 5100 and gave it a cooler look. For this image, I used all hard preset to fine tune. All Hard preset gave it a bit more definition around the edges and works well with direct sunlight (instead of backlit).

  • Exposure | +.25
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5100 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), all hard
  • ISO 200, 50mm F2.2, 1/8000

 

  • Exposure | +.15
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5700 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), all soft
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/1250

  • Exposure | -.35
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5400 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), Shadow hard.
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/2500

  • Exposure | -.15
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5700 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), highlight soft
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/1250

The sun was starting to set, and the image got a little too ‘warm’ for me. So I lowered the WB in post to keep it consistent with other images in the set.

  • Exposure | -.40
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5100 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), all hard
  • ISO200, 50mm F2.0, 1/3200

This was shot right after the above image. All I did was turn my couple around so they are now backlit.

  • Exposure | +.00
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 6000
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), Shadow Soft.
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/800

LOVED this shot. Sun was really setting now and the light is getting much much warmer. I lowered the WB just a tad again to keep it from being too warm.

  • Exposure | +.00
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 5700 (adjusted in post)
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), all hard.
  • ISO 200, 50mm F1.6, 1/640

last shot of the night. Sun is over the horizon and the only light we had were the car’s headlights. I used shadow soft to bring back some definition in the shadow area between the couple, that way it makes the bodies a little more defined.

  • Exposure | +.50
  • Contrast | +89
  • WB | Custom WB at 6000
  • Mastin Preset | Portra 400 Standard (applied upon import), Shadow Soft.
  • ISO 1250, 50mm F1.4, 1/100

That’s a behind the scenes look at my editing technique!  You can also visit Kirk’s Mastin Labs website to purchase your own preset!

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 7.34.19 PM

 

Click on the image above to visit Mastin Labs.  Or click here.  www.mastinlabs.com 

 

 

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