5 Processing Techniques that Defined My Style in Photography

Before-and-After_anita perminova_amsterdam portrait photographer.jpg

If you ask me, I love the editing part of photography process as much as the shooting part, if not more. Sometimes I find during the image processing if I shot something special, and then I enhance and manipulate my images to achieve my vision. Of course it is very important to do our best to get our images right in camera, but to me my images are just a starting point before I transform them into something personal, experiment with different techniques and explore my own style. I love to be in total control of my images from start to finish, crafting my images exactly in line with my own vision. And the key to it is to know exactly what I want to do with my images.

I hear a lot that manipulating a photo after it’s being taken is seen as changing reality, creating something fake and even cheating. Well, once I asked myself how much I depend on preserving the idea of “reality”, and this helped me to open my mind to the world of creative possibilities of editing. I realized I am the one in control of how real my images look, or how unreal. I consider this as an extra opportunity to learn more, make better photos and become a better photographer.

I have to say that every image requires its own editing process to create the look I envision. What I’ve learned the images can be taken in so many directions depending on what is going on within the frame, our mood and even the time of day and season of year.

1. HSL/Color/B&W
Click on Targeted Adjustment Tool to activate and move your cursor to the area of the photo you want to enhance (in our case, the three on the image).  On the Saturation tab, if I click and drag up on part of the tree, the saturation will increase for the color Lightroom reads under the cursor. If you click and drag down, the Saturation for the corresponding areas will decrease. The Hue and Luminance panels work the same way.


2. Flat edit
Before I send my images in Photoshop I perform flat edit right after I adjust my exposure and do color correction. This helps to prepare a solid foundation for my edit in Photoshop and evaluate the potential of the image. I set the highlights slider between -30 to -80, the shadows slider between + 25 to +80. I do this because I know that after applying all of the techniques I use in PS it will give me the right amount of contrast I need.

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3. Frequency separation.
As you might know this is a great technique that is used for smoothing out skin. Buuuuut I have to say that this technique works perfectly for anything that has texture. In this image I polished the sidewalk on the bottom camera left. It helped me to blend the surface nicely and smoothly without loosing the natural texture of the sidewalk.

4. Dodging and burning.
There are many ways to dodge and burn. It really helps to add a sense of depth to an image and makes subject pop. Sometimes I use the actual dodge and burn tool in Photoshop, but most of the times I use curves adjustments layers (one is set to a brighter exposure (DODGE) and the second one - to a darker exposure (BURN)).


5. Blend If Option with Curves Adjustment layer
This is my favorite post processing technique as of today. Practically, it helps highlights to stand out a little bit more. I add a curves adjustment layer, then I double click on the layer, the layer style window will pop up. I drag the slider across to about 85, then hit Alt and click again to separate the flag to give a transition, and bring it right down to 255, then hit OK. I change the blending mode to Screen, which is the lightening mode in Photoshop. Then I bring opacity down (if needed). Isn’t it amazing?


And once again, my SOOC and final image.


Any questions? I love to chat about photography!