Relient K – a 1 minute edit


I’ve had a few people ask me about editing lately, so I thought I would do something a little different today and do a step-by-step look into my editing process.   Since I always enjoy looking at how others achieve effects in photos, I might make this a semi-regular feature.  What do you think?

For fun, we’ll use a shot of Relient K. This is the original RAW file, just cropped down. Absolutely no adjustments were made:


I always shoot in RAW, so the first thing I do is open the photo in Adobe Camera RAW (however, if you’re a Nikon user, I’ve heard that their software produces better results than ACR).

I shoot in the auto white balance mode, so I start off by adjusting the white balance. I couldn’t find an obvious white-point, so I used the subject’s hand to get me in the right ballpark, and then manually fine-tuned the tone.

After that, I increased the exposure by .8, added a bit of fill light so the slider read 8, increased the blacks by 6 (I always make sure there is a definite black in my photos), and nudged the contrast and clarity sliders just a little.

It looks so much better already:


I then opened the photo in Photoshop. I still thought the image was slightly too red, so I opened the color balance tool, and moved the red/cyan slider to -21. I also thought that the detail was a little too dark in the image overall, so in the curves window, I bumped the upper right side up a bit (the highlights).

If my subject is in the center of the frame, I’ll often add a slight bit of vignetting to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject (to do this, open the filter menu, select “lens correction” and then move the vignette slider to the left), but this isn’t really necessary.

A little bit of LAB sharpening (see a tutorial here), and a crop, and the application of my action to apply my logo, and I was done.


Despite this long-winded tutorial, it took me under a minute to edit the photo. Easy!

Here is the comparison again:



21 thoughts on “Relient K – a 1 minute edit

  1. Jenn – If you have CS3, you can still open .jpgs in ACR and use all the same tools. If you don’t have CS3, you can copy the background layer, and then use the eyedropper tools in the level and curves menus to set the white balance. It’s just a little harder to do it that way, and requires more fine-tuning.

    All the rest of the steps that I did in ACR can mostly be achieved with the levels/contrast/curves tools in PS.

    Is there a specific reason why you don’t shoot in RAW? I’ve done a side-by-side comparison of RAW vs. JPG from the same show, and I saw a lot more detail and less noise in my RAW shots.

  2. I have CS2… my friend may have CS3… we’ll see… I never shot in raw because my cards were 1gb and I used the whole thing shooting large anyway!

  3. Great post.. i think its really useful to see how other people edit their photos. you and i have a similar system, though i picked up a couple of tips from reading this 🙂 thanks!

  4. Have you tried Adobe Light Room for working on RAW? I have v1.3, but understand new v2.0 has a bunch of bells n whistles.

  5. Hey Mike, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve tried a trial version of Lightroom, and I didn’t like the workflow that much. But perhaps I’m too set in my ways, or I didn’t spend long enough with it… what about it do you like?

  6. Tasha, you are an inspiration! the way you capture concert photography its amazing!

    This link was very useful and will definately help me in the future. 🙂

  7. Aww thanks Tasha, well your work is so stunning. I found you through flickr and the photography was so moving. And Im so glad rocking girls are doing this instead of so many guys in the pit 😛

  8. This is great! I need to start shooting in RAW. I do have one question though – how do you do your border/logo? I’d love to do something similar with mine but never quite got the hang of the borders.

  9. Daniela – What’s your Flickr? Let me know, so I can make sure to add you if I haven’t already! And yes, girls need to represent 🙂

    Kelly – RAW is fantastic! Use it!

    As for the borders – I duplicate the picture on to another layer. Then, in the background layer, I increase the canvas size. Once that’s done, on the duplicated layer, I add a one pixel black stroke. I then “placed” the logo image (file –> place) over both layers and move it to where I want it. Flatten the picture and you’re done. It’s a lot of steps to do per image, but make an action out of it!

  10. hey tasha!

    well i am relatively knew to flickr so please dont get freaked out by my my weirdness. Im actually really excited about your tutorial, Im a college student and my friend is hiring me to take photos of the bands she manages. So this tutorial made me understand so much how important editing and looking for others angles instead of just close tight ones >.<

    Thanks Tasha! Im going to add you now!

    my flickr:

  11. Awesome, I will add you right now!

    Good luck with the promos! I don’t shoot promos as much as live stuff, but I love doing them. Just pay attention to your background, make sure you don’t cut off any hands or feet, and definitely go for those unique and crazy angles. I recently just climbed onto a ledge that was 30 ft. or so above the ground to get the angle I wanted, haha.

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