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Optimal settings and workkflow for ND


Active Member
I am new to the forum, and have spent some time reading the many excellent comments on how to get the most from the ND. However, many of the posts are getting a little bit old now, so I wondered if anyone would care to comment on how I can improve the settings/workflow I use.

I start off with JPEG to preview my histogram. I like to set the exposure as far to the right of the histogram as I can, without too much clipping (since I have found that this helps to reduce shadow noise later on). I then switch to RAW and shoot for real. I set croma to +1, tone curve to standard, edge emphasis to slight.

Then i use adobe camera raw, still leaving sharpening at zero. I may play around a bit with saturation, vignetting, as required. I will try to avoid exposure tweaks if possible. I do not enlarge the image at RAW development stage. I may make slight tweaks to contrast. I hardly ever use noise reduction at this stage.

Next, once the image is open in PS, if it is noisy, I will apply Noise Ninja, keeping sharpening off, and only really reducing colour (ie not luminance) noise. Usually this is quite effective without losing too much sharpness.

Then I will apply the Sharpening Pro recommended workflow. I really like the control over sharpening this provides. I am still not sure if i have the workflow and interaction between Sharpener pro and Noise Ninja right, btw.

Then I apply various slight curve/levels/tone adjustments and will add film grain (using Sharpener Pro), depending upon the subject matter etc.

When converting to b&w I tend to use The Imaging Factory's s/w.

Where am I going right or wrong? Any tips? Sometimes I get very good results, but noise is always an enemy close at hand. Even at ISO25, on bright days, it could be lurking in the shadows. Also, is there any way I can ever use my ND for dusk, and (here's hoping) night shots? Dark frame second exposures and overlays help, but aren't enough.
Thanks for any comments, gratefully received,