How do I post-process?
March 16, 2006 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Where can I go and what can I do to learn how to properly post-process my digital photography? On a budget?

I'm an amatuer photographer, and I want to try and take my work to the next level by learning how to produce the same sort of stunning effects (obviously using Photoshop, Aperture, or some other software) seen on photoblogs like the ever popular Chromasia and Durham Township.

I'm a student, so I don't have a ton of cash to throw at this, but I would be willing to pay a fair bit, it all depends on what's involved. Are there good books that can teach me what I need to know, or is taking a class the way to go?

Any insight appreciated, thanks!
posted by patr1ck to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are all sorts of links to tutorials in the forums at, Just search the forums for the phrase "pp tutorial". Pay particular attention to the retouching forum, as well, there are all sorts of interesting techniques there. is my one-stop source for all digital-photography-related information needs, with something like 6 million messages in the forums, it's hard to imagine a subject that hasn't been covered.

I'm not related or involved with them in any other fashion than a satified user.
posted by pjern at 11:56 AM on March 16, 2006


Fixed your link.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 12:00 PM on March 16, 2006

woops, thanks.
posted by pjern at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2006

Best answer: You will learn much from the following books, many of which you may find at your library:

Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-On One by Deke McClelland. This is the place to start if you know nothing about Photoshop. It also comes with a video training disc. His Photoshop CS2 Bible (with Laurie Ulrich-Fuller) is a good reference. Deke is a very clear, readable, and often funny writer, BTW. I love reading his stuff.

The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. A more specialized introductory book that focuses (no pun intended) on the use of Photoshop in digital photography.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Photographers by Martin Evening. This is a more advanced book -- you need to know something about photography and something about Photoshop. I don't have it yet but it's on my wishlist; it gets quite good reviews.

Real World Camera Raw by Bruce Fraser. If you shoot RAW files with your digital camera, you need this one. If you don't shoot RAW files with your digital camera, you ought to consider it.

Professional Photoshop by Dan Margulis. This is THE book on color correction. I used to think this kind of stuff was boring and that the filters were much more fun. But you really need to know it to make your images look the way you want and give them the impact they had when you fired the shutter.

Photoshop LAB Color (The Canyon Conundrum etc.) by Dan Margulis. This is a truly advanced book, but it'll blow your freakin' mind, especially if you do any nature/landscape photography.

Photoshop Blending Modes Cookbook by John Beardsworth. Blending modes are a lot of fun and are given short shrift in most all-in-one Photoshop books. This is a great book exclusively on that topic.

For improving your actual photography I highly recommend Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure and Learning to See Creatively, and the pricey but very useful Light: Science and Magic.
posted by kindall at 1:08 PM on March 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The forums on Fred Miranda are also quite interesting, though I'm not always impressed with the quality of work it attracts. Also forums and articles at Rob Galbraith isn't bad either.

As general adivce, I'd encourage you to work on getting your actual photography honed before delving too much into the effects. A bad photo with fancy effects is still a bad photo, and may not serve your credibility well.

Even after the shot, there is a lot of time to be invested into learning general image and RAW processing far before effects. Great tutorials for nature photography at The Radiant Vista. Lots of technique sharing at dpreview, as mentioned above.

I always try to keep in mind that when computer-based photo work first gained widespread amateur interest, Kai's Power Tools was the hot new thing, and there was an infinite amount of repulsive art generated as a result. Great photos are timeless, great effects don't have the same guarantee.

And, on preview, I second Real World Camera Raw mentioned above. When it comes to processing, the difference between those who know what's going on and the uninformed (but still spouting misinformation) in the forums is the reading of Fraser's book.
posted by VulcanMike at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2006

I second the The Radiant Vista but not just as a nature photography site. They have a great video tutorials sections and a Photoshop workbench section where they take submitted photos and process them. Plus some pdf tutorials. Lots of good info for free.
posted by undertone at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2006

I'll second Margulis's Professional Photoshop. I read it years ago and use the tools described in the book to process every picture I take.
posted by driveler at 1:56 PM on March 16, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to all the great responses! I am definitely going to check out some of those books. :)

I agree with VulcanMike that the actually production is more important than the post-production, and although I have been shooting for a few years, i think I may end up taking an intermediate level photography course at a local college or something, if at all possible.

Thanks again for the great advice everyone.
posted by patr1ck at 8:41 AM on March 17, 2006

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