Category Archives: Post Processing

RawTherapee Looks Interesting for Processing RAW Files

RawTherapee looks like a very interesting software for Fuji X cameras. I’ve used it on a few photos just to see how it performed, and I love the way it rendered the RAW files.  The best part, it’s free!

I’m going to do some more processing with it and see how it does compared to Capture One and Lightroom.

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My Journey Of Post Processing

I talked about using Capture One to process my photos. I’m still on my 60 day trial license. I don’t know if I want to buy it yet. I already have Lightroom, and I’m wondering if it’s good enough. Granted, there are a lot of stuff I like about Capture One like sessions and their keystone tool. But I’m sure Lightroom will copy a few features over in later versions. Besides, rumor has it Lightroom will have better X-trans support. Maybe I’ll wait until then.

Sure, I found out that through my experience, Lightroom is one of the worst Fuji RAF RAW processors. I’ve been messing around my new shoots and decided to use Photoshop for most of my processing. I used to do a majority of my processing in the RAW converter itself (Capture One or Lightroom). Now, I just tweak the exposure a bit and just pass it off to Photoshop.

How do I like that method? I think I like it. This frees me up to use Iridient or Photo Ninja as my RAW converter, Capture One or Lightroom as an expensive photo catalogue, and Photoshop as my post-processor. It doesn’t kill my workflow much either. I’m fast in Photoshop. To copy the settings, I drag the layers I created to the other pictures, and it’s copied over.

So, here are some images I’ve created using Capture One to tweak and convert the RAWs and Photoshop to do the rest of the post-processing.

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My First Fuji Images Processed By Capture One

I  had a recent photo shoot. I decided to use Capture One to process it.  When I was testing out various RAW converters for my Fuji cameras, I mentioned I loved Capture One’s skin tones. Funnily, for my first Capture One session, I decided to do the set in black and white.

I love black and white photos but have rarely processed my portraiture in black and white. So for this shoot, I put my camera in black and white mode and decided my set should be in black and white. Of course, the RAW would come out in color, but at least in my camera, I would know what the black and white photos will look like.

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The models were Haley J, Kimberly P, and Madison L.

My Thoughts

I think they look  underexposed. But I wanted to give it a darker feel. If I were to do these again, I would try upping the exposure or brightness setting in Capture One and seeing how it would turn out.

Also, I could’ve used the levels slider in Capture One to make the blacks darker. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. I’m used to Lightroom’s black slider.

How Did I Process These?

If you’re interested in how I processed these, I used a “complicated” method: I just put the saturation slider to 0.  Yeah, it’s probably not the best way to do it, but I have seen  professionals who I respect use that method.

I guess I have more control if I used the black and white setting such as filtering certain colors. But this is my lazy, quick, and easy method. Also, I can put a slight blue tint to the shadows when I have the saturation at 0. I don’t know if I can do that if I use the black and white setting in Capture One.

If Lightroom does come out with the film simulations for the Fuji cameras,  hopefully, I can just use that. I love how Fuji’s black and white film simulation looks.

Next Version of Adobe Will Have Improved X-Trans Support?

According to Fuji Rumors, Adobe is planning to have better X-Trans support. It looks like it might be the next minor release of 5. Not only that, it will have the Film simulation modes.

Wow, that is a game changer. I love Astia for portraiture. It was one of the things I missed when switching from JPEG to RAW shooting.

I was getting used to Capture One too. I was ready to commit 100% to Capture One. Now Fuji Rumors drops this news to us. This will make my decision harder on which software to use. I would need to see how well Adobe handles the X-Trans of course. Hopefully, Adobe will release it before my 60 day trial of Capture One is up.

Capture One vs Lightroom vs PhotoNinja vs Iridient for Fuji X-Trans Portraitures

We know that everyone complains about how Adobe handles Fuji RAF files. There has been alternatives such as PhotoNinja, Iridient, and Capture One. So I decided to try them and see how they handle RAF files for portraiture. Why portraiture? Because that’s the style of photography I do. I want the best RAW processor to get the best out of the X-Trans sensor. 

This isn’t just a pixel peeping exercise. Sure, certain software can bring out details better. They also render colors differently. So you have to figure out what gives you the best possible look that you’re going for.

Sample Images 1

The samples are straight out of the camera with no adjustments. These are at its default settings. Sure, maybe if we fiddle with stuff, we can get almost identical outputs. But I want to see what gives me the best starting point.

Since my trial license for PhotoNinja expired, I had to take a screen shot. So keep that in mind.

The following images are shot at f/4.0, 1/125 sec, at 200 ISO with my Fuji X-E1.

Capture One
Capture One
Iridient
Iridient
PhotoNinja
PhotoNinja
LightRoom
LightRoom

Right away, you can tell these are different.  They all have different tones to the image.

Let’s See These at 100%

These are screen grabs from each software. You can click on them to get a bigger size. For PhotoNinja, I had to take a screen shot again. Hopefully, you can still tell the difference.

Capture One
Capture One
Iridient
Iridient
PhotoNinja
PhotoNinja
Lightroom
Lightroom

It looks like Iridient captures the details better. The other three are about the same at its default settings. I  can’t get over PhotoNinja’s weird colors though.

Sample #2

The settings for these are f/4.0, 1/250 sec at 800 ISO using my Fuji X100s. This is lit using a flash. Once again, these are straight out of the camera using the software’s default settings. 

Capture One
Capture One
Iridient
Iridient
PhotoNinja
PhotoNinja
Lightroom
Lightroom

At 100% 

Once again, you can click on them to get a better view.

Capture One
Capture One
Iridient
Iridient
Photo Ninja
Photo Ninja
Lightroom
Lightroom

Wow, for these images, Iridient looks the worst. It looks weird. Is it the noise reduction that Iridient tried to give? I like Capture One’s output the best. It looks the most natural.

PhotoNinja’s version looks pretty good too. But I still can’t get over that weird tint the image has.

What Is My Favorite?

Capture One wins. The skin tone looks better compared to the other software. Detail wise, Iridient seem to pull more out. But Capture One does a great job. 

I like the look of Lightroom as well. But I think that’s because I’m so used to seeing Lightroom’s renderings. It looks  “normal” to me.

PhotoNinja’s output looks okay. The screen-grabs are accurate. There is no funny business going on. I just don’t like the weird tint in the images, especially in the first image.

Iridient is funny. For the first set of images, Irident seems to have the best output. For the second set, it gave the worst output. I’m thinking it’s the noise reduction since the second image is at ISO 800. I can’t believe it makes that much difference. Or maybe Iridient can’t handle the X-Trans II sensor of the X100s.

In the end, Capture One is my choice. It’s better than Lightroom for sure. Too bad it’s so expensive though.

It’s all personal preference. For Web viewing, all four softwares can give you a decent image. You need to do your own investigation on which look you like better.

What do you guys think? Which software gives the best look for your Fuji cameras?

Post Processing Thoughts

A model once said she liked my pictures because I don’t process them. I wasn’t sure if I should be proud or insulted by that. I spend a lot of time thinking about my post-processing and applying them. It could mean she couldn’t tell if I  processed my photos. Or it could mean I’m awesome because my photos look natural.

I’ve pondered at my post processing.  I noticed it goes through cycles from doing too little to too much to doing too little again. It depends on what new techniques I learn and what other photographers do with their photos.

When I first started getting into photography, I was an in-camera only guy. I thought using photoshop or lightroom was cheating. I had to get it perfect in camera. And I still believe that.

The photo below is one of my earlier shots. I just crushed the shadows and applied some split toning (and boy can you tell). That’s all. I didn’t even retouch her face nor touch any other sliders. Luckily she has good skin. People wondered how I posted my pics so fast. It’s because I just did split toning, synced all photos, and posted it it.

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Then I got into post processing heavily. I learned some retouching techniques (both good and bad techniques, but that’s a future post).  I loved using Lightroom and Photoshop. I believed post-processing was an essential part of the finished photo. And I still believe that.

I did a lot of stuff to my photos during this phase. Luckily, I never got into the horrible HDR phase.

Here is one of my more processed photos. Man, did it look overprocessed. It did give a distinct flavor to my photo. You know, the flavor of sunburnt skin. 

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Later on, I hated my post-processing on that photo. So I redid it. It looks smoother and more elegant. I made things subtler. The skin tone looks more natural. I even retouched her skin. Is this one better? To me it is.

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Then I went to this. I used the  radial filter heavily to get rid of the distracting elements in the background. Heck, I probably even used the brush tool to darken big areas as well. I was going to town on my Lightroom, using everything it has.

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It almost looked like I used a softbox  on camera left and hair light on a boom on top of her. In fact, this was all ambient light. She was sitting on a pool table with the lamp above her. That’s it. I also cleaned up her face using frequency separation.

I also went through a phase of trying to save bad photos using post. I won’t be trying that again. The image below is heavily cropped and processed. It’s an okay photo. Nothing can save a bad photo.

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Here is where I am now. I dodged and burned her skin to lighten up the bags under her eyes and to eliminate a few imperfections. I also messed with the curves, saturation, and contrast a bit. That’s about it.

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My Opinions On What Post Processing Should Be

So now I’m back at trying to get everything in camera again. But when I look back at my photos, they haven’t  changed much, no matter how much post-processing I used.

One reason is my philosophy of keeping things as subtle as possible. I try not to max out, or even go past 25, on my sliders.

Also, I believe the first thing you notice in photos CANNOT be the post processing. The processing should fit and become seamless with the photo. It has to match the mood, story, and feeling of the photo.

Later on, I’ll go over many different ways to retouch skin.