Post production photo editing is fairly common, particularly if you plan to use the photography in your home, share it with friends and family or put it in a photo album. I do all my post production in Adobe Photoshop but there is similar software available which will do many of the following tips. If you shoot with RAW images you will have more ability to adjust the photo, these tips are applicable for standard JPEGs.
1. Save as
Before I start any photo editing it is a good idea to save the photo with a different name so you can always go back to the original if you need it in the future. Normally I just add a letter to the end of the photo name this way it is filed next to the original and I can easily find which photo is the original.
Sometimes your photo may need slight rotation because the strong lines of the building are too straight. It is a good idea to make use of the guides to check on the alignment with the photo’s edge, just click on the rulers and drag. Another method of adjusting the alignment is using the ruler tool. Rotate – make sure the horizon is correct or vertical is perfect.
Drag the ruler along the line you wish to be vertical > Image Menu > Image Rotation > Arbitrary
image, Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba Spain, slight rotation counter-clockwise.
Composition is arguably the most important element of architectural photography. I recommend cropping immediately so you are only working on and looking at the final photograph size and content. Be careful to crop to a size that is proportional to what the photo will be used for, in other words, if you plan to print 4×6 photos the cropping should be in proportion or if you plan to upload to Instagram your photo needs to be a square proportion.
image, Spertus Museum Chicago, cropped into a square for instagram
I only recently discovered this feature, which will save you lots of time mucking around with the curves and levels. This function will remove the fog and haze in your photo and can make a big difference. Below if the suggested amounts however sometimes the percentage needs to increase.
Filter Menu > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask > Enter Amount 14%, Radius 40 pixels, and Threshold 0 levels
image, stone wall Turkey, unsharpen mask set to 40%/40/0
The Brightness/Contrast allows for changes to the tonal range of the entire photo. The brightness slider expands or decreases the highlights or shadows while the contrast slider expands or decreases the tonal values in the overall image.
Layer Menu > New adjustment layer > Brightness/Contrast > Click OK
image, Prudential (Guaranty) Building Buffalo, brightness decreased and contrast increased
6. Hue and Saturation
This tool is easily fine tunes the hue and saturation your photos. The Hue slider will alter the entire photos range of colour, this is good for effects such as adjusting the photo from colour to black and white or effects such as sepia. The saturation slider is great for making your photos more vivid or muted.
Layer Menu > New adjustment layer > Hue/Saturation > Click OK
image, Scottsdale Arabian Library Arizona, saturation was decreased and hue adjusted slightly
The levels tool uses the histogram of the photo to adjust the tonal range of its brightness and contrast which is accomplished by selecting the black, white and midtones will be on the histogram. A rule of thumb is the histogram should typically extend the entire width of the graph; however the image should be previewed while making adjustments.
Layer Menu > New adjustment layer > Levels > Click OK
image, Museum of Civilization Ottawa, slider was taken in for both the white and black based on histogram
Curves are an intimidating tool however it is one of the most powerful tools for adjusting your photography’s tonal range. The graph begins with a straight diagonal line which represents the image’s tonality, the upper right are the highlights, the lower-left are the shadows. Adjusting the RGB can be done in several ways, I encourage playing around with the tool to practice how it can be utilized. I typically use this when photographing white interiors; it is sometimes difficult to achieve a crisp white when the majority of the content is white.
Layer Menu > New adjustment layer > Curves > Click OK
image, Guggenheim Museum New York City, curve adjusted to increase the highlights and make building more white
9. Shadows / Highlights
Unlike many of the other tools in photoshop the Shadows / Highlight tool will adjust strong backlighting or areas washed out from over exposure separate from the rest of the picture. Practice adjusting the different slider options to see how they will affect your photo. Be sure to click on ‘Show more options’ to get full use of the tool. Be careful to use this tool lightly since it can easily result in an artificial
Filter Menu > Convert for Smart Filters > Click OK > Image Menu > Adjustments > Shadows / Highlights
image, The Beekman New York City, the shadows and highlight sliders were adjusted to suit (some deletion of adjacent buildings using the clone tool)
10. Correct Morie Effect
Moiré pattern typically occurs when a repetitive lines or dots occur in a tight pattern and thus create a third pattern. for example, horizontal or vertical wood slats, frit patterns on glass, sun shades, fences, and so on, the repetition exceeds the camera’s sensor resolution. How much morie effect you will encounter in your photography has a lot to do with your camera and lens design, it is a common issue with digital SLRs. A few tips to avoid the issue while shooting is to increase the pixels per square inch, shoot in RAW, change the angle or distance you are shooting from. If morie effect still occurs it can be corrected or reduced in post production.
Use the Lasso tool to select the morie pattern > Filter Menu > Blur > Gaussian Blur (do not to use the defog tool it will likely more the morie pattern worse)
image, New Amsterdam Pavilion New York City, increased Gaussian blur to 1.4 pixels
These tools all have their place in post production photography but it is important to to learn when each tool is needed, you will not need to use all of them. It is also best to spend time to perfect your photographing skills to reduce the amount of post production work necessary, No Photoshop work is the goal. So do not over do it and try to use these tools to subtly help improve your photography not drastically alter it.