From One, Many — No. 4

A not-so-quick post . . .

Original as output from camera

Those are leaves just under the water surface (some are poking through the surface).

I picked a photo at random from a group of similar shots. I had planned on a quick post, but . . .

. . . confronted by the many post-processing tools at my disposal, I panicked. 

What if I choose the wrong one? What if I process something and I don’t absolutely nail the processing? What if new readers see the photos and are turned away by the lack of originality coupled with the poor post-processing choices? What if everyone knows I’m a post-processing hack but won’t tell me to my (Internet) face?

None of those thoughts crossed my mind, but you got to admit it sure adds drama to the narrative.

Nope; what happened is this; I tried the top seven post-processing tools I have and then decided I’d afflict my readers with the results.

First up, an easy one: Lightroom.
Let’s be clear about this; Lightroom gives you pretty much everything you need to process a photo. You can use it as a blunt tool and adjust a few sliders, but you can also do finesse work with it. It doesn’t have as much power as Photoshop, but it’s plenty powerful enough.

Here’s the gallery of the processing done with just Lightroom. Hint: it might be useful opening the original in a new window and have it nearby for a quick comparison.

So, if Lightroom gives you all you need, why all these other ones?

Easy. That’s it; that’s the answer. These other tools make it easy; you can get particular looks in just a few clicks. Or, you can use one of their presets as a starting point toward a particular look. Also super easy; barely an inconvenience.

My current go-to post-processing tool is DxO Nik Collection (Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, and their sharpening and Denoise modules). It’s been several months now that every photo I process goes through one of the Nik Collection modules.

The problem with the Nik Collection modules is that they are not well-integrated with each other. You have to call them up individually, modify the photo, save the work, then open the saved file in the next module.

DxO Photo Lab does a better (but still not perfect) job of bringing the tools together, but here’s the thing . . . DxO lab can generate close — if not exactly — the same processing as what one can do with the Nik Collection.

DxO has always been a favorite of mine but I’ve not used it as much as I should have because it was a pain to use. Photo Lab 3 has me convinced I should use it — if not exclusively — more often.

This is a small gallery and it could be joined with the Nik Collection gallery as I consider the two tools essentially as one.

Topaz Adjust AI is another tool making it easy to output good versions of one’s photos. The tool can either function as a plugin or as a stand-alone program.

Last year, Topaz introduced Topaz Studio (the latest is Version 2) and it integrates many of their stand-alone modules and previous plugins. It can also run Adjust AI as part of the overall processing workflow.

If I’m in a mood for flights of fancy, Studio 2 it is.

The most recent programs added to my stable of editors and post-processors are Luminar 4 and Aurora HDR 2019.

I admit to needing more time with these tools. They are powerful and have lots of adjustments and I need to spend some time understanding how the various processing options interact.

Unfortunately, I’m finding myself always busy with other stuff (and I still have to write my piece for the short story challenge). But, I’ll get to them, I will.

Meanwhile, here’s the Luminar 4 gallery:

And here’s the Aurora HDR gallery:

I have a few other editing tools and that’s without considering using combinations of multiple tools. Suffice it to say that at the end of my processing efforts, no one remembers what the original photo looked like.

Here they are, the original and all the versions in one random gallery . . .

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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