Basic Steps to Enhance an Image - Abhi Madangeri

The complete process of creating an image involves pre-visualizing, shooting and presentation. During our 4th kaTTe meet we had an excellent interactive session on Basic Post Processing which helped all kaTTe members understand the simple ways of enhancing an image. After that I kept getting a lot of requests to write something about my Post Processing steps, so here is Basic Post Processing workflow just using Canon DPP. 

Canon DPP (Digital Photo Professional) is Canon's image processing software that comes with the Camera. All steps explained below are for processing raw images using Canon DPP on Windows OS for web posting.

Original Image:


1. Crop for Composition and Angle Adjustment

Open the image, click on menu Tools->Start Trimming/Angle Adjustment Tool (or Alt+C)

Select Aspect Ratio, click on image and drag to select the crop area. Adjust the angle for tilted images if needed.

REMEMBER: Always crop for composition, never crop for close ups. Here cropping was done to avoid distractions in the foreground.

2. Exposure Adjustment

It is not always possible to get the best exposure on field. This step will help us get back that desired exposure (+/-) stops.

Remember: It is always good to get the best possible exposure on field.

3. Adjust Color Temperature

I like my images a bit warmer so I always have my white balance set to Cloudy, but again it depends on personal choice. But good thing about shooting in raw mode is you always have the freedom to adjust your color temperature as per your liking. I have increased it a little bit (from 5200K to 6000K) here to get the warm colors.

REMEMBER: Adjusting color temperature helps in bringing out natural colors. You can also play around with the color temperature on field to understand how your final image will look.  

4. Contrast, Shadow and Highlight

Play around with contrast settings to get a nice depth to your image. Shadow will help you get back  details in the shadow area and Highlight helps in recovering details from the bright areas. I have used a slight amount (+1) of contrast here, with a little increase (+1) in shadow to brighten up the shadow areas. A high amount (-5) of highlight is applied in this image to slightly suppress the bright patch in the background.

REMEMBER: High amount of shadow and highlight creates a halo and also makes the image look unnatural. 

5. Sharpness

The raw image right out of the camera is normally not very sharp. I apply 2 levels of sharpening, one before resizing and other after resizing the image. First level, I usually increase the sharpness of the high resolution image to its maximum under both Raw and RGB tab of the Tool Palette.


6. Brightness and Contrast

Go to RGB tab under Tool Palette and adjust brightness and contrast as per your style of image making. I have applied very little amounts here to enhance the overall look and feel.

7. Hue and Saturation

The raw image is mostly bland and does not have bright colors. Adjusting saturation helps in increasing the color intensity and makes the image bright and attractive, but too much of saturation is also bad. I normally don't go beyond 120 for saturation setting. Adjust this setting only if you feel you need some color adjustments to bring out some specific color in the image. I usually don't feel the need for this, but increased it my +1 in this image to give it a green tinge.

REMEMBER: All beginners tend to apply this in high amount which usually takes away the natural feel of the image. Apply very small quantities here i.e. not more than 6-8 for brightness/contrast and max 120 for saturation depending on the image.

7. Noise Reduction

Apply noise reduction under NR/ALO tab to get rid of any noise in the image especially in the out of focus areas. Increase it by small amounts +1 stop at a time for both luminance and chrominance noise and keep checking the preview so that details are not lost by getting blurred. Stop when you feel the image is getting blurred and losing details.

9. Re-size for Posting

Go to File->'Convert and Save' and save it to TIFF format with resolution of 900-1000px wider side for landscape mode and around 500px wider side for portrait compositions with resolution at 72 DPI.

10. Final Sharpening

Reopen the TIFF image and apply a value between 30-90 under RGB tab of Tool Palette. Save to JPG.

This is the final output after the 10 simple steps of post processing. By now you must have observed, I repeatedly stressed on applying all the settings in small quantities only. The secret is to get the best on field and apply only small quantities during post processing. Remember, an image is made 80-90% on the field and only 10-20% during post processing.




0 #1 Sherin 2014-01-02 21:22
Awesome Abhi... I never liked the idea of touching my clicked pictures... but this step by step article inspires me !!
0 #2 Abhi 2014-03-26 16:52
Thanks Sherin
0 #3 Gurudatt 2015-08-18 11:53
Abhi, very clearly explained all the steps and it is amazing how picture quality can be enhanced significantly. I like the temptations you mentioned to which the novice tend to succumb. Incidentally, the Photo Gallery software available in MS Windows 7, has some of the features mentioned but not to the extent of professional's expectations. Incidentally, any feedback from persons known to you about these features in MS Windows 10 [which is offered free, perhaps on a trial basis]? Thanks a lot.
0 #4 Sivakumar V K 2015-10-10 19:02
It is wonderful to get a nice explaining on DPP work flow.I do my PP with DPP but have a missed a few fine points. Nice that I get a better perception now!
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