The 7-Point System in Action

Frequent readers of my blog have seen my previous posts about the newest Scott Kelby book, The 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3. Well, I have decided to post a before and after image that was processed using the system. Normally I wouldn’t be posting an unprocessed image but I wanted to show how far you can take an image by using the system from his book. I don’t want to give away any processing secrets, but that’s only because there are none, secrets, that is. This isn’t a book about secret techniques, rather a recipe for making images look better using tried and true techniques in a logical order. I have been applying the same techniques to my images for sometime now but not necessarily doing everything I should, every time. The one thing I noticed when using the book isn’t how I can improve my photoshop skills but how I can improve the way I look at my prints to determine what I should be doing to them in post-process. I don’t think this was necessarily the original intent of the book but I find it to be a great and unexpected benefit.  To get your copy of The 7-Point ust follow this link.

Unprocessed image from raw file.

Unprocessed image from raw file

Processed using Kelby 7-Point System

Processed using Kelby 7-Point System


  1. You have shown a great example of the improvements possible. Kelby’s 7 Point book has given me a workflow to improve my images beyond what I thought was possible.

  2. Very nice work and beautiful shot. You just follow the book or add something else?

  3. Alex,
    Here is the thing with the 7-Point System, not every shot needs every point. So while I did follow the book, it was “fine tuned” for my specific image which is really the point of the book. The book doesn’t say “do these steps in this order every time” but more like, “if your image needs this, do it before you do the next step”. To me it’s more like how to look at my print and identify what it needs to take it to the next level and then giving me the roadmap to get there. If you haven’t seen the book yet, run by your Barnes & Noble or Borders and take a look at it. It really is unlike any Photoshop book I have seen in the past because it’s not about learning to use the tools and techniques in Photoshop but when and which ones you should apply to your images to make them look better.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    Unfortunately this book didn’t arrive to the bookstores in my country yet (I live in Brazil). But I’m very excited and as soon as I get more information, probably I will order one copy from an international bookstore (Amazon, B&N, etc).

  5. Jeff, I picked up the book recently and being a newbie to photoshop I am still struggling with some of the concepts. Could you walk through what you did- great shot bgy the way, I see you cropped, added contrast in th background, and edited out some of the extraneous details… did I miss anything. I haven’t acquired the ability yet to say “Oh, this photo needs these steps…” thats what I’m trying to work throug, I have started using Scott’s better looking “skin treatment” for my portrait shots, and its making a real difference, butt o me thats an obvious one that can be touched on alot of “people” shots… When you looked at the raw image, what went through your mind in terms of “oh, I should do this… and would like to see that?” any insight would be gretaly appreciated, and really, thank you for sharing… for an amateur photographer who really loves looking through the lens I have found these postings extremely helpful.

  6. John Larson says:

    Reading Jeff Schewe’s new book on Camera Raw, (and having done all of the exercises in Scott’s book), I am now of the opinion that much more be done in Camera Raw before going to Photoshop. Using these two books together helps to create a very nice workflow.

  7. Scott, great idea to post before/after. I also wrote a review of your book, and at the end I said how good it would be if you has some sort of 7-point system Web site where participants could post before/after shots and also get more practice/feedback. Maybe start a group on Flickr.
    Here’s my review:

  8. Joseph,
    Along with the things that you mentioned, I also did some painting with light. THis was mainly done for the background but also on several areas on the cheetah. If done well, it should be hard to notice. I did brighten his eye just a tad. To put it in Scott Kelby’s words, when looking at a photograph, ask yourself what you would change if you could shoot it again. Would you have re-cropped it or maybe you would like the sky to be more blue or your colors more saturated? Perhaps there are annoying little distractions that you wished weren’t there. That is where you should start. Take care of the things that bother you most, first so that they don’t keep distracting you.

  9. I have seen samples using the 7-point system for post production and probably will look more into the book and this system. I agree that there is improvement in the images i’ve seen thus far.

    Just a thought – you just might want to think about how to improve your image before you take the picture rather than always relying on or looking for post or digital darkroom solutions to correct the problems of some basics of taking an image be it true photography or a digtal accuired image
    things like – exposure – compostion – filters if needed… you know thinking about the image befor hand?

    If everytime you took a picture you had to rely on the darkroom tech to fix the image for you…
    well true you guys are stuck in a digiatl world but it still should be the same basic stuff.

    As Ansel Adams said – There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

    try taking one

  10. You have some good points Chase but you really shouldn’t hold Ansel Adams up as the shining example of “getting it right in the camera”. Adams was a master of manipulation in the darkroom and would push and pull his negatives along with dodging and burning his prints. He knew that there was a difference between how the scene looked and how he wanted it to look and he used his processing skills to achieve that look. There are only three things you can do right in the field, compose your image, focus your camera, and select the proper exposure. So the question I have is, are they bad photographs or bad exposures, or bad composition?

  11. Nice example – looks like an interesting book – I know I follow at least a 4 step process for most of my images. I agree with you, I really try to get my framing, composition, focus and exposure as proper as possible in camera, but every image I take gets at least a minor color adjustment and a slight sharpening.

    The example you used above is great – I do like the original, but the modified cropped version is just that much better.

    And I agree 100% with your comments about Adams – just read recently a lot of his shots he actually took 3 or 4 of each and then chose the best one to continue his darkroom processing from.

  12. Thank you for the before and after. You are a shop- shark. I have a problem with page 33, step 2. How do you open the gas pump into camera raw? The pump shows up inside of a program I have on my computor called “Corel Media One” and I can’t get the photo into camera raw using step 2. When I go to photoshop’s file menu and choose “open as”, I can not find where the photo of the pump is located on my computor. Paleeeeeez help. THANKS


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