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How to Retouch 102-megapixel Files

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I heard a lot about the Fuji GFX100S and wanted to give it a try to see if it was indeed one of the best cameras in the world for landscapes and cityscapes. This is a 102-megapixel larger-format camera at an affordable price and, if you make big prints, it could be the camera of your dreams. I’ll take you with me to Paris in the following pages to witness an incredible sunset as we retouch those high-quality files! 

STEP ONE: This photo is 11,648×8,736 pixels, and let me tell you, it’s really sharp, and the details are insane! Let’s start with some basic retouching. We’ll open up the Shadows to +96, bring down the Highlights to –100, and set the black points (Blacks) to –65 and the white points (Whites) to +12. Next, we’ll boost the Exposure a little to +0.20, add some Contrast (+25), lower the Clarity to –6, and bring back some Texture with a setting of +19. 

STEP TWO: A cool tip for quickly creating pleasing moods in your photos is to use the Profile Browser in Lightroom. You’ll find it by clicking the icon with the four squares at the top right of the Basic panel. You can select from profiles that are adapted to your camera and find the perfect LUTs (lookup tables) for your images. It’s a great feature! Usually, I select the Velvia/Vivid that appears in my Camera Matching set of profiles for the magenta tint that it created with film cameras. So that’s the one I picked here. The profiles in your Camera Matching set will depend on the camera with which the image was taken. 

STEP THREE: I like to crop my images in a way that makes them more dynamic. The 16×9 panoramic aspect ratio works great for cityscapes and landscapes because it creates a cinematic look. 

STEP FOUR: You can now play around with the local tools to fine-tune your image. In this example, I used Graduated Filters (M) on the top and bottom to “close” up the photo by darkening those areas with a Temp of –9 and Exposure of –0.44. 

Step Five: To finish up, I’ll use the Adjustment Brush (K) with both the Flow and Density set to around 75, and boosting the Exposure to 0.74 and Saturation to 17 to relight the overall photo. And here’s the final result for this photo. I really love this natural look, and the great thing with such a high-res file like this is that you can zoom in, crop it, and still have a sharp shot! It’s perfect for printing. 

STEP SIX: Now let’s copy those settings so we can use them on our next shot to save some time. Press Command-C (PC: Ctrl-C) to bring up the Copy Settings dialog where you can decide which settings to copy. In this case, we’ll copy everything except the strokes from the Adjustment Brush and the crop. We’ll want to do those steps manually for each photo. 

STEP SEVEN: This next shot took a lot of work to capture as I was trying to figure out how to shoot this space with a 24mm lens. I ended up taking eight photos and stitching them together in Lightroom using Photo>Photo Merge>Panorama with the Cylindrical option and the Fill Edges turned on in the Panorama Merge Preview dialog. I then cropped the merged photo as shown here. 

STEP EIGHT: The file is now 26,443×15,505 pixels so I can definitely make some amazing prints from it! Now let’s do some more Lightroom magic and paste in those copied settings from the previous image by pressing Command-V (PC: Ctrl-V). For a better retouch on this image, I boosted the Exposure +0.40 and adjusted the Whites to +35. Just for fun and because I’m addicted to magenta, let’s set the Tint to +32. 

STEP NINE: For the local tools, we can adjust the Graduated Filters that were copied with the other settings by lowering their Exposure to –0.64 and moving them around the image as needed. And just as with the other image, we’ll also grab the Adjustment Brush, boost its Exposure to 0.74 (with a Flow and Density around 75), and paint to highlight various parts of the image. 

STEP 10: If you’re adventurous, you can use the Edit>Sky Replacement feature in Photoshop, as we did here for the final result. 

I’m honestly quite impressed with the end result, and I feel confident that having such a high-resolution file can give you a lot of freedom in the developing process, especially if you wish to print your art. I hope you found this useful and that you learned some new techniques to use on your RAW files!

ALL IMAGES BY SERGE RAMELLI