Digital Darkroom Processing

I’ve had a few folks ask me about my approach to processing an image after exposure. I’ll take a quick walk through the major elements using a so-so frame from a recent trip down to La Jolla.

La Jolla is a wonderful area and the coastline is a photographer’s dream. However, every once in a while, you get a flat and washed out shot that does nothing to reflect the impact of the scene. Kinda like this one.


My first step is to clean up any rough spots on the image. In this case, there were a number of bird droppings that I did not think added a lot to the scene. I used the clone brush in Photoshop to remove them. If you look carefully at the lower rocks, you can see the subtle changes.


The image definitely needs some snap. Or better yet, some contrast. I like using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro. The contrast filter allows me to deal with levels and color casts quickly and easily.


I then used Nik’s neutral density filter to bring the image into better balance which also brought out some of the color.


Another tool from Nik is Viveza. It provides some great color control. Notice the change in color of the rocks and the small three-stemmed plant.


Back to Nik’s Color Efex Pro. The film effects filter allows me to choose from over 30 different film types. I used that filter and then added some sharpening. And here, the digital darkroom produces the final image.


1 reply
  1. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Nicely done, Richard. As you point out, the filters of Color Efex Pro 3.0 have a wide range of options. You might also see if the “glamour glow” filter gives some pop to the final image – I’ve been really pleased with some results on landscapes with that one.

    Cheers, Kevin (from Nik Software)


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