I use a combination of products in my processing workflow and these have changed over the years as I have learned new techniques in post processing. The key to having great images is in the post processing. Just as in the past the magic happened in the developing lab, now we are able to bring out the best in our images at home on our personal PC’s.
I start with importing my images into Lightroom. This program is excellent for cataloging and organising my images in such a way that they are easily found in the future. One thing I did learn the hard way though – always back up your catalogue. Things happen, computers crash at the wrong time and hey presto your catalogue is corrupted. I used to be lazy about backing it up but now I do it religiously.
Most of my basic processing is done in Lightroom. I tend to do as little as possible with my nature images because when entering nature competitions there are strict restrictions on how much post processing is allowed. If I treat all my images as competition entries then they are ready should I decide to use them in this way.
From there I edit in Photoshop. I know that everything could probably be done in Lightroom now, it is such a comprehensive program, but I have been using Photoshop for many years now and it is where I am most comfortable working to achieve the finished product I want.
Bird photography often has been shooting in low light and requiring fast shutter speed at the same time. This almost always results in noisy images. I have to say that since moving to the Panasonic Lumix G9, I have had less of a problem with this as it is so awesome at dealing with low light work, but there are always some images that need some de-noising.
To remove noise I use the Topaz Labs De-Noise AI plugin for Photoshop. I love how this product makes what used to be a hard job, very easy. It gives my image such a clean finish and allows me to push my camera to really high ISO levels knowing that it won’t be an issue. Topaz products come as standalone as well as plugins for both Photoshop and Lightroom, making the whole process very easy. I highly recommend Topaz De-Noise!
Below is an example of before and after using Topaz plugins. I deliberately chose a really noisy image to show the difference.