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Enhance your post-processing skills with a tablet



In the course of your love affair with photography, you will use many different equipment. Some would buy them, others will beg you, borrow or steal. They will all serve for one purpose or another. Someone could love it so much to keep it forever. Many will not do it.

You do not hear me talk often about gears. Over time I worked hard to simplify my equipment and, as a travel photographer, I had to be ruthless in losing excess weight and size. From time to time, however, you come across such a valuable tool for your workflow that you can not imagine working without it. One of these tools for me is a tablet.

intensify post-processing with a tablet

Photo of Kate Trysh on Unsplash

I've been using a tablet for several years now and I'm absolutely worth the extra weight in my bag. When I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket to travel the world with my camera, I found space for my tablet. It has revolutionized my post-processing and can even revolutionize yours.

What's a tablet?

A tablet is a device that lets you use a stylus instead of a mouse to control the cursor on your computer screen. They come in many sizes and offer a variety of features. They work by pointing or drawing on the surface of the tablet with the stylus, which transfers your movements on the screen. Most are equipped with buttons on the stylus and on the tablet, which you can configure to act as mouse buttons or buttons.

Ranging from small tablets without buttons to huge displays where you can draw directly on the screen, just like an iPad. They often include features such as pressure sensitivity, allowing for extremely precise controls that are very useful during design.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Why use a tablet?

You could ask yourself what's so special about a tablet. What's wrong with a good old mouse? I felt the same way until I tried to use one. The humble mouse works well for everyday computer use, but is severely limited when it comes to photo editing.

Have you ever felt frustrated while trying to change some details in a photo and having to go back again and again? When using a mouse, rely on the movements of the large muscles and bones of the arm and hand to move it to the screen. It's incredibly cumbersome. Your arm works great with big movements, but not so much with small and precise ones.

Now think about the precision and the motor skills needed to draw with a pen. Every little muscle in your hand is used to control movements. I like to think this way: a child can use a mouse, but it's not possible that he can use a tablet. They can not even write their own name. A tablet will allow you to use those motor skills that you developed all those years ago.

intensify post-processing with a tablet

Photo by Josefa nDiaz on Unsplash

How do I use a tablet?

You may have seen the tablets used in Photoshop tutorials and wondered how they are used. You do not need to be a professional retoucher or illustrator to take advantage of a tablet. Even if you do all your post-processing in Lightroom, you'll probably still find that a tablet will make the process much more precise and enjoyable.

intensify post-processing with a tablet

ExpressKey menu in the Wacom setup panel.

The main advantages of editing with a tablet are speed and accuracy. As I said before, most tablets will have some additional controls on the stylus and on the tablet itself. These controls can be customized to do just about anything.

This means that you can replace the most commonly used buttons with a single button. The tactile ring can be set to adjust things like the size and hardness of the brush, or scroll and zoom. These controls can greatly accelerate post-processing.

intensify post-processing with a tablet

Tap the Ring options in the Wacom settings panel.

Where a tablet really shines is when you want to apply local adjustments to your photos. Whether you're making selections, drawings, paintings, cancellations or dodging and burning, you'll find that it's much easier with a stylus than with a mouse. It seems more natural and you will make less mistakes.

If you do not currently make many local adjustments to your photos, I highly recommend that you take the time to learn how. Learning basic dodging and mastering is one of the best things you can do to take your post-processing skills to the next level. Do it with a tablet and you'll be amazed what difference it makes to your workflow.

There are many great resources available online for free that will teach you the basics of evasion and mastering in both Lightroom and Photoshop. Likewise with the setup and use of a tablet. It's a bit of a learning curve, but once you understand it, you will not want to change with the mouse.

Choose a tablet

As I said, tablets have a huge price, size and features. What you need will depend on some factors such as your budget, how much space you have on your desk and how you like to work.

You can spend anywhere from $ 25 to $ 2000, so there's something that fits your needs. You should be able to find a decent tablet under $ 100 that does the job.

Choosing the right size can be complicated. On the one hand, the bigger the tablet, the easier it is to use. You will not find yourself having to move the screen with a larger tablet. On the other hand, it will take up more space on your desk or bag. Personally I like to use a tablet smaller than my laptop, so that both fit well with my bag when I travel.

In terms of functionality, you do not need many of the more advanced features. My previous version of Wacom Intuos is not sensitive to pressure and I do not miss it. I recommend using a tablet with at least a few control buttons, as they can speed up your workflow a bit.

Do not worry about getting an expensive high-end tablet, though. You'll probably find that a basic model or a cheaper brand fits your needs perfectly. If you have an iPad around, there are apps available that allow you to connect it to your computer and use it as a tablet.

Beg, Borrow or Steal

Well, maybe not steal, but ask around and see if anyone you know has a tablet you could borrow or rent to try for a week. If you can find one to try, give them one chance. As I said, it takes a while to get used to it, so do not give up too soon.

I am sure that once you have understood your head, you will miss one of your own, and you will never look back.


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