I've been a bit active on an online forum recently, giving C&C in my usual full-on way, and also asking for it. This has been extremely revealing, and I am not ashamed to say I have learned something. I've known for some time that taking the photo is the easy bit, but I've always struggled with the post-processing. When I started out with RAW files, I used a series of steps as outlined by Art Morris. This works fine for photos at full res, but a version of the same process when wanting a smaller image to post online sees me struggling for the sharpness and detail that I know is in the photo. Sometimes I overcook it, sometimes I under-process it - the happy medium defeats me. Where I struggle is often with the background rather than the bird itself, with all sorts of artefact appearing. I've learned today that I might be causing this myself by playing with levels, and changing the exposure during RAW conversion. So this evening I've developed a minimalist process for web images.
1) Crop as appropriate (Which I am learning is subjective)
2) Reduce noise (Strength 8 or 9, preserve details 30%, reduced colour noise 0%)
3) Resize to 1000 pixels on the long side
4) Unsharp Mask (120%, radius 0.4)
5) Save for Web (Quality 80-100, optimized "checked", blur 0)
And that's it. No levels, no curves, no shadows and highlights, no selective colour changes. Have a look and see what you think. A series of more or less the same images can be seen on my other blog post from yesterday. The results are quite interesting. Just goes to show that photography, especially that bit behind a PC, is always a learning experience, and that the web is a great place to do it. A lot of C&C is utterly useless - "Great shot", "Love it", "Brilliant!" etc. Nothing doing there, and I am scrupulous when it comes to avoiding that banal back-slapping and giving genuine C&C, rightly or wrongly. The good news is that post a recent onslaught I decided to stick a few of my own photos up so that people could give as good as they were getting - only fair - and it has worked a treat. I'm getting genuine and useful feedback that I'm starting to put into practice straight away. It's just a shame that I've got so many I want to go back and have another go at!!