The Great Post-Processing Challenge 27 April 2021   

The challenge to members was; given a RAW file what can you do with it?
This was a new idea for the club and involved members trying their hands at editing some RAW images taken by Dave Gray. There were 5 images sent out to members to see what they could do – 3 were landscapes, one was a portrait and one was a nature image.
Twelve club members had a go at the post processing although not all managed all 5 images. Most of those that took part used Lightroom to edit the images although Camera Raw and other editing software was also used. Many also tweaked the images using such add-on software as the Nik Collection or the TK Panel to give further enhancements.
The edited images of the first landscape were shown and it was interesting to see the variety of results. The image was titled ‘Red Pike’ and it showed an area of the Cumbria fells with rocks strewn across the grass. After the first basic editing, some members chose to give the scene a very stormy look while others chose to convert to monochrome or to crop the image in various ways. Dave then demonstrated how he had edited the image using Lightroom.
The next image was an HDR composite image of a waterfall taken in the Brecon Beacons. The slow shutter speed made the fast flowing water very white in the image and many members struggled to get any detail into it. There was also a patch of white sky showing through the trees which a judge would probably have criticized so members tackled that problem in different ways. Some chose to crop the offending area and others disguised it in different ways. Again the results were very varied – some colourful others muted or monochrome.
Next another tricky image to edit with just the cloud covered summit of a Scottish mountain to contend with. Again some members had difficulties with the highlights and some tried various filters to improve the image. Dave then explained how he would have solved the problems of blown highlights.
The portrait ‘Gambian Girl’ presented those taking part with many post processing problems. The lighting was harsh and the colour of the girls’ skin was difficult to get right. The background needed replacing or subduing it in some way to make it more complimentary to the subject. Some cropped the background away completely, just leaving the face and the head covering in the final image. Some found the image looked better when flipped.
Several members asked how best to replace a background and Dave demonstrated his method using layers in Photoshop.
The final image for members to work on was a brimstone butterfly image with an annoying grass stem and a distracting background. Members used various techniques to soften and tone down the background and Dave demonstrated how he selected the subject and then used Gaussian blur on the background. Members cropped in various ways and some preferred the image flipped.
It was very interesting to see the different ways that members presented their edited images and the results very much depended on individual taste. Many taking part found it more difficult editing someone elses images rather than their own.
David Wilkinson thanked Dave Gray for his work setting up the idea and giving his advice. Thanks to those members that had a go at the post processing challenge.
At the end of the evening everyone learned something from each other and said that it would be good to do something similar again. PM