20 Best Photo Processing Steps in Sequence for Quality Photos

Over the year, a lot of photos have accumulated for processing. Let’s figure out how to most logically and correctly approach the best photo processing and retouching.

Of course, the fastest way will be to apply any of the presets or filters to all the photos, but this will not be ideal since it will not cover most of the images. To process photos as quickly as possible, you need to think about it when shooting.

We will try to create an optimal best photo processing algorithm with a detailed sequence of actions in the photo editor. The material will be helpful to you if you already know how to do something in Photoshop, but you still cannot logically build the processing process. It is one of the algorithms. If it seems illogical to you, share your approach to processing in the comments. Readers will be grateful.

Best Photo Processing Steps in Sequence

Best Photo Processing Steps in Sequence
Photo Processing Steps

1. Selection of Footage

To not process thousands of takes, you first need to select no more than 5-20 frames from the series. They should be diverse (general plan, close-up, details), plot (beginning, development, ending), different in emotions and mood.

To speed up the selection of photos, you can use programs that have photo ranking functions (Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightroom).

2. First Edits of the RAW File

Having opened a photo in a RAW converter, you first need to apply the camera and lens profile, activate profile correction, and remove chromatic aberration.

3. White Balance Correction

It is most convenient to edit the white balance in the converter rather than in Photoshop itself. If the photo turns yellow or blue, it is best to fix it at the very beginning.

4. Correction of Technical Defects

Next, it is worth making an exposure compensation, adjusting the highlights and shadows according to the histogram so that there are no dips in black or white.

5. Suppression of Noise

For this we add luminosity; we take away the color plus.

Photo Processing Steps
Photo Processing Steps

6. Detailing and Toning

If detailed retouching is not required, cropping, leveling the horizon, describing, toning, and vignetting can also be done in a RAW converter. Still, it is more convenient to do this already in Photoshop.

7. Opening the File in Photoshop

Next, we save the file in PSD format and duplicate the layer (Ctrl + J) so that further changes, in which case we can roll back, keeping the original intact.

Processing is a very energy-intensive and time-consuming process; therefore, it will be excruciating to lose work due to power outages. So, don’t forget to save permanently (Ctrl + S).

8. Leveling the Horizon

It should be done when the horizon is obstructed, and this is not the photographer’s idea. Duplicate the layer and free transform it to align it so that the vertical objects (trees, corners of buildings, pillars) are vertical.

Copy the edges to a new layer and match and merge all layers except the bottom safety layer. Or, if the background allows, align the edges by cropping.

9. Cropping

It is more convenient to do this in Photoshop since here you can crop out the excess and add space, air, stretching the background if necessary.

10. Transformation

Lengthening the legs, neck, skirts, stretching the background – all these manipulations help improve the proportions of the characters and the composition of the frame.

Photo Processing Steps
Photo Processing Steps

11. Removing Debris from the Frame

If the cropping failed to cope with unnecessary details, then they will have to be retouched. To do this, you can use a patch or copy a section of the background, drag it to the dirty area and wipe the overlay border using the mask.

12. Plastic Filter

If you are not satisfied with the proportions of the figure, face, or something else in the frame, you can correct them using the Plastic filter. Duplicate the layer, reduce or increase what you want, but within reason, without violating the physiology.

Watch the change in the shapes and proportions of the background: deformed doors and chests of drawers, geometric patterns of wallpaper, wipe with an eraser, getting information from the bottom layer.

13. Portrait Retouching

If you need to retouch your face, you can use the Spot Healing Brush. For detailed retouching, use frequency decomposition and Dodge & Burn.

You may also like to read: Portrait Tips: 11 Portrait Photography Tips No One Else will Tell You.

14. Skin Tone Correction

Red hands and noses, jaundiced faces, bruises under the eyes, uneven tan, and skin lightening – all these defects should be corrected so that the skin looks natural and uniform in the photo.

15. Adding Aerial Perspective, Highlights, Rays, and Other Artistic Elements

At this stage, you can add a little volume and light to the frame, as well as, if necessary, a pinch of magic.

16. Color Correction

If you wanted to change the dress’s color or repaint the greens in blue and yellow in orange, you need to do this right now.

You may also like to read: Color Processing: 10 Tips for Accurate Color Processing.

17. Toning

At this stage, you can tint the lights in one color and the shadows in another. Or even convert the photo to black and white.

18. Vignetting

It is better to darken the edges of the picture not evenly, but depending on the scene. Darken the gray point, for example, through the levels, invert the mask and use a white brush to show the effect around the edges of the frame.

19. Sharpness Adjustment

It is better to adjust the sharpness using filters already at the end before saving the file for printing or publishing on the Internet.

Suppose you plan to publish a photo, for example, on Instagram. In that case, it is better not to overdo it with sharpness since some social networks impose sharpness according to their algorithm when posting a photo themselves.

20. Saving in JPEG

For printing, we save the photo in the best quality, and for social networks, we reduce it to 1200-1600 pixels on the larger side, set the quality slider to about 80%.

Take this algorithm into your arsenal and adjust for yourself. Perhaps it will be convenient for you to rearrange some points in places and refuse something altogether. But you need to build the processing process to bring these steps to automatism and think only about creativity.

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