Photography Tutorial 9

Workflow Tutorial/Demo

Here is a little workflow tutorial/demo I created showing my digital photography workflow using Lightroom 3 and Nik Software’s excellent plugin collection. This is my usual workflow for a lot of my photos, but I sometimes swap out the Color Efex Pro plugin with Viveza 2. I hope you enjoy the demo and remember to download the photo below so you can follow along.

Click to Download image.

Image is for personal use only. Please don’t try to make money off of it. I would hate to have to hunt you down.

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  • Reply
    Andy Brown
    Jul 03, 2010 3:26 am

    I have not used the plugins with Photoshop. I simply could not afford the Photoshop package so I picked up the Lightroom version. I do believe you have more flexibility in the way you can make changes with the layers. I have thought about saving up to get the Photoshop plugins, but honestly, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in Photoshop. I am proficient in PS, but to me, using Lightroom feels really natural and I have found that on 99% of my shots, I can do what I need to within Lightroom without having to use Photoshop.

    If I do think that I might want to work with the photo a little more, I sill do my basic editing such as noise reduction and sharpening, and save that as a TIFF. I can then base multiple pieces off the one image. I did this with a child portrait late last year. I took the edited TIFF into Silver Efex Pro and made a black and white version. I made another copy that had a sepia tone. I know this takes up file space, but it was easier for me. That is the good thing about these plugins. You can use them in whatever app you feel most comfortable in.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for visiting and watching. I really appreciate it.

  • Reply
    Nattawut Guname
    Jul 03, 2010 3:03 am


    Thanks for the post and sharing your workflow. I wanted to ask if you also you use the workflow with Photoshop instead of LR? I have previously used exclusively LR but with PS, and correct me if I am wrong, you have more flexibility and going back and making changes after the fact w/ the layers and such, rather than a one-off edit/save/re-import to LR.

    Just curious!

    Thanks again!

  • Reply
    Nattawut Guname
    Jul 03, 2010 3:49 am

    That does help and pretty much mirrors my workflow prior to me testing the plugins inside PS w/ layers. One benefit is that, esp w/ CS5 and the new brush capabilities + Wacom tablet, is not ‘brushing in’ the appropriate Nik filter to areas you need (or vice versa).

    But I believe everyone has a workflow that fits to what they want to accomplish and running the image through PS does take more steps and not all images will require that much work to get the desired final product.

    Have a great holiday weekend!

  • Reply
    Jul 03, 2010 5:57 am

    very nice tuto, thanks.
    I have lr3 but use it only for slideshow and web.
    i have a d300 and capture nx2+color efex pro for nx2.
    nx2 is prehistoric with respect to lr but non destructive workflow with upoints, color efex pro,… is fantastic.
    At any time i can come back to settings with a small file.
    I still hesitate to take the nik bundle because when i see all your tif files without any mean to come back to sharpen one while keeping color efex changes, I am afraid.

    Don’t you use capture nx2 ?
    if nik could integrate these plugins into nx2, it would be so nice !

    another problem i have with lr is that it can’t display the "embedded jpeg" of a nef file so if you crop in nx2 and import in lr, first second you see the crop and after that it disappears so a nx2 file
    is considered as non processed file (a raw). fasstone viewer, photomechanic,… all can display embeded jpeg in their preview if you ask it.
    have you already tried to import nx2 file into lr ?

    many thanks for comments
    best regards


  • Reply
    Jul 03, 2010 5:58 am

    Andy, Thanks for sharing this excellent informative video. Look forward to more video’s on your workflow. I have a question- since in your workflow you used Niksoftware’s pre-sharpener for RAW, for the pre-sharpening, what was the level of the sharpener slide in LR? Did you pull down to zero or left it at its default position of 25.

  • Reply
    Andy Brown
    Jul 03, 2010 6:05 pm

    Hello Gautam,

    The sharpening setting was at 25 when I made this tutorial. I have found that on most of my images, the sharpening from 0-25 is negligible, so I didn’t bother dropping it down to zero.

    Thanks for visiting, watching, and commenting. I really appreciate it.

  • Reply
    Andy Brown
    Jul 03, 2010 6:03 pm

    Hi Marc,

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I really like a lot of things about Capture NX2, but unfortunately, I downloaded the demo and it ran out before the patch to let it work with OS 10.6.3 came out so I never really got to play with it. I have played with it a little on my laptop, but, not a whole lot, and like you said, it does feel prehistoric. I really wish there was a way to do all the edits in LR on the DNG or RAW file to have them in the history where you can undo them, but I don’t know if we will ever see that. I also like how NX2 does take advantage of all the parameters you have set up in your camera. Lightroom does have some Camera Calibration settings that you can use to approximate what you were getting from your camera, or you can just output to jpg, but you do lose the advantages of RAW.

    What I have done to mimic the picture modes is to basically create my own preset in Lightroom. I like my images kind of punchy with a lot of contrast and color. I am working on a demo of this process, but here’s a rundown. I did some sharpening and noise reduction in LR, along with some black level, recovery, and contrast adjustments. Then I saved them to a User preset. When I do my editing, I can apply my preset and that gets me about 70-75% of where I want to be. It’s not perfect, but gives me a good starting point without having to remember all my base settings.

    I do hope that Nikon updates NX2 soon and adds some more robust features because I do think it has a lot of potential, but for right now, I am pretty content with LR. Thanks for watching and commenting.

  • Reply
    Jul 05, 2010 7:02 am

    Thanks for putting in the effort into your tutorial. I found it really helpful. Since each time you go out to a Nik plugin you create a new copy with LR adjustments – do you go back and delete all the intermediate tiff files?

  • Reply
    Andy Brown
    Jul 05, 2010 4:50 pm

    Hello Alistair,

    If I make several TIFF Files during my editing, then yes, I do go back and delete the unused ones. However, most of the time I don’t have too many. A lot of times I will open up the raw file and do the noise reduction, then instead of crating a different file for sharpening, I will just edit that new TIFF. If I can do my correction in Lightroom, then I will continue working on that TIFF. If I have to make other adjustments, then I will make a copy and work on that one. It all depends on the image. Some are better than others and don’t need to be edited.

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