Sometimes You Have to Stop and Post-Process the Roses

These are roses I bought for the wife on Valentine's Day.  Hey, it might be a cliche, but I've never gone wrong with roses.  Never.  Going out for sushi didn't hurt either.

Red roses are tough to photograph and even tougher to post-process because the red is very easily blown out.  Despite the look of this photo, it's not an HDR.  It's a plain ol' single shot photo with a lot of post-processing.  I shot under available light (kitchen light fixture) and kept taking photos, dialing down the exposure compensation until the red channel histogram on my camera told me that the reds weren't blown.  That took me all the way down to -2 EV, which I consider a pretty radical compensation level.  If I'd pondered how much I was decreasing the exposure I would have turned off auto ISO.  For the final image, the camera selected an ISO of 720.  If I had shot it at ISO 100, that alone would have gotten me my -2 EV compensation and I wouldn't have had any high ISO noise to deal with.

But I didn't have my thinking cap fully on, so I had to bring the image into AfterShot Pro to nuke the resulting image noise. ISO 720 is borderline for whether noise reduction is really necessary, but in this case I was going to do a lot of detail enhancement that would amplify the crap out of any noise so I decided to reduce it before that happened.  The problem with noise reduction is that it also obliterates fine detail, such as, say, the texture of flower petals!  So what I did was reduce noise only in the background areas of the image and left the flowers alone.  I would deal with amplified noise in the flowers in order to preserve the texture of the petals.  A game of trade-offs.  Oh, and while in AfterShot Pro, I also tweaked the levels to optimize the dynamic range.

Then I exported it to Photoshop Elements in order to use Topaz Adjust to dial in that hyperreal look on the flowers.  Topaz Adjust is an amazing piece of software!  You can use it to do a pseudo-HDR treatment like I've done here, but it can also do mind-bending (or completely sublime) things with color, tone, sharpening, blur, grain and a bunch of other stuff.  While in Elements, I also added an overlay texture for that painterly quality, which is the killer ingredient to this image in my opinion.  I've really been having fun with textures lately!  Probably too much fun, but right now I'm really enamored with how textures add depth, ambiance, and character to certain kinds of images.  Finally I took it back into AfterShot Pro for some final sharpening on selected parts of the image and to add my watermark.