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Behind the scene: "Second impression @ Bermagui"

Published January 25th, 2012

Hi, my friends. First of all, I would like to say that I'm not an expert digital photographer. I am just an trial-n-error learner who wants to improve his photography skill as well as post processing ability. According to the fact that I received some questions about my pre- and post processing, I would like to share my experience and post-processing steps to you today.

For pre-processing, I try to capture all most all of the light in the scene as well as possible by using several filters (e.g., Lee Soft GND 0.6, 0.9, Singh-Ray Soft Rev. GND 0.9). I always check the histogram. "Exposure to the right" is my basic rule that you can search more information on the Internet.

For post-processing, I import RAW file to Nikon Capture NX in order to correct white balance and distortion, to clean dust in the picture, and to adjust its shadow-midtone-and highlight. The most beneficial and smart tool in this program is 'colour control point' that gives you flexible way to improve and enhance your shot. Later, I export the picture to Photoshop by converting it to TIFF format. In PS, I mostly use 'curve and level' in order to adjust global and local brightness. 'Vibrance' is applied when I want to boost overall colour without over saturating the image. I adjust a little bit per time, for instance, I increase +10 vibrance and +3 saturation in first time. Then, in second time, I repeat the first setting and I mask some area that too vivid in my taste. Finally, after satisfied with the result, the photo will be sharpen with 'smart sharpen.' It has no recipe for every photo. Different photo require different level of sharpness. After resized to 900px in width, the photo is sharpen again and saved with 'save for web' function with 100% (or maximum quality).

As attached with this blog is an example of a original photo that is directly resized and converted to JPG in Nikon Capture NX. The final edition of this photo was posted at

Second impression @ Bermagui

You could see that we could improve a lot of details and colour when we start from "RAW," instead of "JPEG." I am so sorry that I cannot present all steps that I used for enhancing this photo. However, I hope that my prior explanation could illustrate my process in some ways.

Thanks for your visit, valuable comments, and positive vote : )



  • December 25th, 2010
  • Nikon D700
  • 20mm / f/16 / 19230769/2 sec

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Chris Gin  about 6 years ago

Wow, the original looks so flat and dull compared to the processed one! I wouldn't have a clue how to do that kind of PP magic.... have to rely on mother nature. Love the end result though, it looks awesome!

Dennis Hellmich  about 6 years ago

Thanks a lot for these explanations and the before/after photographs!

However, I'm wondering, why you apply saturation/vibrance in photoshop and not in CameraRAW. Does the photoshop algorithms have any advantages?

Thanks and by the way: I love your photos, they are really amazing and inspiring!

Salvador Martínez  about 6 years ago

Me considero un asimilador de información para aprender más, tu explicación en muy interesante y lógicamente tus resultados son magníficos. Gracias por mostrarlos. Y un gran saludo.

Jon Mandrell  about 6 years ago

Thank you for taking the time to write this up! It's really nice to get a more in-depth explanation of the technical aspects and see the photo before processing. Keep up the good work!

JesúsGonzález|photo  about 6 years ago

Hi Atomic, you don't know how could you help the people with a tutorial like this. This is amazing info!, and i would like to tell you a big THANK YOU for taking the time to make this. Regards from one of your fans. :)