In my last post, I talked about ‘2 things you should do before post processing a macro photograph’ . I would like you to read it for a better understanding of this tutorial and getting good results. This post is a step by step tutorial on post processing with a macro photograph. I would recommend you to use Adobe Photoshop CS4 or higher version because some features like smart surface blur, blur brush tool etc., are not available in lower versions.
In the comparison above, you can find the difference between the image before and after post processing.
STEP 1: Use Crop tool to remove the negative space
The left picture looks dull in color because of faithful mode in camera settings and so we can crop the image to avoid the negative space. Though the magnification ratio of this image is 1:2, negative space is dominating to avoid the prominent subject .so, cropping technique is applied to improve them. However, this doesn’t mean that you should crop an image which has negative space. Use the cropping tool based on what you want to show in the photograph. Sometimes negative space is good, as it makes a photograph minimalistic.
STEP 2: Apply Sharpness to Improve the Details
Capturing the details on the subject may vary based on the lens structure and camera sensors. If the subject looks blunt in appearance, we can enhance the details of the subject by applying the sharpness in selected area. Here, I am using ‘Smart Sharpen’. For applying the sharpness, we have to create a new layer (CTRL+J in PC) as it ensures non-destructive editing. Then, select Filter->Sharpen->Smart Sharpen.
In the ‘Smart Sharpen’ dialog box, you have to adjust the radius and amount of sharpness according to the pixels of your image. It is applied to the entire image.
Step 2.1: Use Eraser tool to remove the sharpness in the background of the frame.
The eraser tool is basically a brush which erases the pixels of the layer below. So, we can apply it by selecting the eraser tool from tool box.
Step2.2: Adjust brightness in the Background to improve the uniformity of light
Brightness/Contrast tool can be found under Image ->Adjustments -> Brightness/Contrast. A certain level of brightness should be set according to the brightness level of the foreground. Then, follow step 2.1 to remove the overexposed pixels on the subject and foreground of this frame.
Step 3: Apply Smart Blur to Remove the Grains on background.
First, you have to save the image and open it in a new tab if you want to apply smart blur; otherwise skip this step. Grains on the image are unavoidable but it can be neutralized easily. You will find more grains if you crop a high ISO image. So, you can use Smart blur minimize the noise by selecting Filter->Blur->Smart Blur. In smart blur dialog box, adjust the minimal values because details on image may be disappeared. Another option is to use the eraser tool or ‘Quick selection’ tool to improve the softness on the background.
Step 4: Adjust Vibrance/Saturation for Color Enhancement.
It’s always safe to use vibrance tool instead of saturation. Vibrance increases the saturation of the less saturated pixels in an image while leaving the saturated pixels intact. Saturation may cause loss of details on the subject and the image looks cartoonish or un-natural which brings less attention from viewers. Vibrance can be found under Image->Adjustment->Vibrance.
So, after adding vibrance, I got my final image. I hope you will find this tutorial useful. I would suggest you to follow this while post processing a macro photograph (or any other photograph). In my next post, I will explain focus stacking technique.