I saw this pic recently and I love to quality and sharpness but I have no idea how one edits to get such a look. I know the photographer used A Nikon D750 and a Nikon 24-70

first example

Here's a second example. Do you see what I mean?

second example


2 Answers 2

  1. Take a photo in good lighting. This is probably the most important thing. There are two aspects to this. First, there's simply enough light. Therefore, the resulting exposure will not need much amplification to be at the desired level of brightness, which means there won't be a lot of visible noise. (That is, low ISO and adequate shutter speed and aperture.) Second, the light is even — there aren't areas of deep shadow or great brightness to contend with. This makes it easy to make an image which looks natural to the eye.

  2. Don't "pixel peep" that image. If you have the original file and look at it zoomed to 1:1, you may be disappointed. Your examples are scaled to 1280 pixels wide, which is a perfectly great resolution for social media sharing. This effect is particularly true in the first image — if you look at some of the background detail, there's still some noise which, if you had the full-size original to go over with a magnifying glass, you would probably not describe as "clean" at all.

  3. In the second example, notice the smooth background and round specular highlights in the blurry background. This contributes to the overall look, with the in-focus subject nicely separated from the background. The lens was probably at its widest aperture, and it helps that the couple is literally physically at a distance from that background. See this question for more on that.

Nothing fancy is required beyond this. It's a common belief that impressive photographic results come from editing or from special effects or "filters". That is generally not the case — in fact, watching the light and knowing your equipment and how to use it allows you to get nice "looks" right out of the camera in a way that can't be simulated in post-processing.


How does a photographer edit to get a photo to look this clean?

A photographer doesn't edit to get a 'clean' image. A photographer lights the scene properly at the time the image is captured.

You can't 'create light' that wasn't there to begin with. You can only 'process' what was captured. For all of the amazing things we can do with raw conversion and masking with applications such as Lightroom and Photoshop, there's absolutely no substitute for getting the light right to begin with.

Certainly you need enough light to provide a high enough 'signal to noise ratio' that noise is not noticeable in the image. For all of the improvements that have been made in the use of NR (noise reduction) in post-processing, it still reduces the amount of fine detail of things in an image. Even using high ISO does not necessarily mean an image will be noisier. It still depends upon how much light there is in relation to the noise. But higher ISO settings mean there's less room to increase the exposure before the highlights blow out.

You also need a lens that can project a sharp enough image onto the sensor. You need to use proper shooting techniques and exposure settings to prevent blurring due to camera and subject motion.

I think you might be seeing good color reproduction that gives vivid colors without allowing any of them to become oversaturated as 'clean'? Matching the color temperature and white balance to the lighting is critical to this. So is using lighting that includes the full spectrum of visible light.

Keep in mind, color temperature is only a single axis across the entire color wheel we call White Balance. Artificial light sources are often well off the color temperature axis that is basically defined by the color of black body radiators at different temperatures. For instance, in addition to having a color temperature of about 3700K, traditional fluorescent bulbs also emit a green tint along the green←→magenta axis and need correction in the magenta direction. On the other hand, many of the popular LED stage lights found in small clubs are also at about 3700K but have a decidedly magenta tint that requires compensation in the green direction along the green←→magenta axis. Both types of light are the same basic color temperature but look very different without compensation on the green←→magenta axis that is approximately perpendicular to the blue←→amber color temperature axis.

Additional use of an HSL/HSV/HSB (Hue - Saturation - Luminance/Value/Brightness) tool can come in handy here to control the hue, saturation, and brightness of different colors independently of each other. I find that pulling back red, orange, and sometimes magenta just a bit will often get me to where I wish to go with an image.


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