Commerical Grading and Sharpening

The commercial photography demands certain standards in tone, contrast and sharpening as you see in the attached image.

I would love to hear your favorite modules and post-processing techniques that are more suitable for commercial work.


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  1. I first create a rough drawing of what I would be making. (I have a good practice in drawing, So it’s easy for me, but if you haven’t been seriously into drawing, than it would be hard)

  2. Then I write the the important things on a paper that are essential for the commercial.

  3. I create a prototype of what I would be creating in blender with very low poly models.

  4. I create a very rough edit in the photo editing software.

  5. And then using that rough edit as a canvas, I create the final edit.

I do not use photo editing software for color grading and all things related to color, I use a raw editing software, which has better color grading capabilities.

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scene referred workflow defaults including filmic, denoise, color calibration, colorbalancergb, tone equalizer, diffuse/sharpen - no witchcraft at all …
… and indeed, no paid fancy presets promising an individual look for a broad mass :wink:


@MStraeten speaks concisely to your inquiry, IMHO. The only thing I might add is having access to ACES profiles for participating in ACES workflows. And, this would apply mainly to the movie industry segment of “commercial”…

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Sticking to the definition: commercial photography is only required to pay the bills.

This is very often less about certain tools but about an overall workflow.
And that workflow is highly dependant on your work evnironment.

Example: my jobs range from “picture from camera via bluetooth to phone and then mailed” to “Terabyte harddisk with hundred or thousands of images edited on a 64GB RAM desktop”.

But whatever you’re selling, you have to be consistent with predictable results.
To the customer and to yourself.

But whatever you do, the most asked questions by customers will always be:

  • Can you deliver 300dpi?

Unless I work with a graphic designer directly, I used to put random and purposely annoying ppi settings into the files. Nothing beats seeing a file with 1 ppi open up in Quark/Pagemaker/Indesign/Scribus/Illustrator/Inkscape/etc. These days I stick to something more sane in the 100-200ppi range.

  • Can I print from the file? it is so small.

That one is harder to solve, but if JPG-100 does not do the job, uncompressed TIFFs will.

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Thank you all for sharing your valuable insights!

As some of you pointed out, productivity is another prime concern with commercial work. The new darktable is makes you super productive with features like culling features of darktable, screen referrred works, inbuilt support calibration really makes it very appealing for commercial work.