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My Basic Workflow-

Roll your mouse over the image to see the before and after.

Step 1-
  This is my original picture, straight out of the camera, resized for your viewing pleasure.

Step 2-
  This is usually when I sharpen the picture. With a picture this small I use Unsharp Mask with a .5 radius and a strength anywhere from 30-70. With a full size picture you will probably need a 1.0 radius and closer to 70 strength.

Step 3-
  This is the most important step, levels! Levels (lots of people also use curves) adjusts the contrast in an image, you can make the blacks blacker and the whites whiter. Even if you look at your picture and think you don't need to adjust the contrast, try it anyway, you'll usually find that your shot looks much better with just a little more contrast.

Step 4-
  Here's another tip to make your pictures pop. For this size picture use Unsharp Mask with a high radius (35-45) and a low strength (10-30) and the result...well, see for yourself. Since the pop is subtle I've applied a mouse-over effect to the image below.
(this shot is the before, roll your mouse over the picture to see the after).

Step 5-
 This is usually my last step for a picture that's going up on my site, applying a border. I, personally, think that a simple black border makes a picture look "complete", but some people don't like it. It's all up to you.


Step 6-
  On occasion I like to apply a quick dream effect to the picture (again, this may not be to you personal preference, and the kind of look you're going for).
(this shot is the before, roll your mouse over the picture to see the after).


 



 

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