Inspawration Editing Process & Rationale: Start here!

The Process & Steps

A lot of people ask for tutorials in various situations, and while I have tried to create (and will continue creating) a variety of different tutorials, at the end of the day, most of my tutorials follow the same, basic process and workflow.

Below, I’ve listed most of the steps that I follow… however, I don’t follow EVERY step in EVERY photo. You will need to know your way around Lightroom & Lightroom masking features, and know how to mask in Photoshop in order to follow this tutorial. 

Generally, the workflow is:

  • Adjust White Balance in Lightroom
  • Slight Global adjustments to lower highlights and raise shadows
  • Remove fringing if needed
  • Maybe change HSL if there are strong greens
  • Selective editing in Lightroom using radial filters to:
    • Brighten the dog
    • Add clarity and texture to the dog
    • Work on the eyes as a whole, catchlights separately, darken pupils if needed
    • Remove colour casts
    • Lower distractions in the scene, eg., bright highlights, too dark areas, too colourful areas and so on
  • Moving into Photoshop as a smart object, creating a New Smart Object via Copy
  • Doing any “fixing”/tidying up with clone stamp, healing spot brush, composition changes (generally not cropping in yet unless very sure!), fixing/brushing over bright highlights and so on
    • Any kind of blur effects (rarely used, but sometimes to make the bokeh a bit “melty”)
    • High pass filter for sharpening
    • Bring in other layers to make a panorama
    • Copy & Flip background if needed
    • Content aware fill, content aware crop, etc (rasterised version of our original layer needed)
  • Shape the light using curves layers, depending on the original light direction, where the dog is looking, and composition of the image
  • Colour grading using selective colour layers, maybe a gradient layer
  • Finishing touches” which could but must not always include:
    • Gradients on radial to create separation from the background
    • Dodge and burn/contouring using curves layers
    • Remove colour casts on the dog
    • Fix distractions eg., too much saturation in areas
    • Adding more contrast
    • Adding more drama
    • Adding overlays
  • Save and return to Lightroom to check the histogram and make sure I’ve used the whole light range (unless it’s a specifically dark and dangerous photo)
    • Raise exposure a little if needed
    • Add denoise if needed