This post has been long in the coming. It’s a topic of some dispute in the photography community. There are people who hold to absolutely NO editing, people who hold to a crazy Photoshop approach (making the image look almost nothing like the original), and people who hold to editing to enhance the already-there quality of the image. These people tend to stick healthily in the middle–and have their own unique style of editing (but not crazy or they end up in the huge Photoshop category).
I fall into the last category…and in this post I will do my best to explain why.
Editing to Enhance
In my own mind…I dislike editing that completely changes an image. For instance I don’t like removing moles or freckles. Those are character adding. But blemishes–I think removing them is a good idea.
I edit to enhance what’s already in the image. Take this image here…(yes I realize I use this one all the time).
So when I edit I try my best to enhance what’s already there. If it’s just a bad picture then that’s my fault. I’m not going to beautify a picture that isn’t beautiful. That in my mind, is just laziness. If there’s no quality–it goes in the trash bin; not my editing platform. But if the image has great potential (focus is on point, lighting and composition are good.) then I will edit to enhance.
Jpeg User of Necessity
I shoot in jpeg for those of you wondering. My simple reason for that is my editing platform doesn’t do a good job editing RAW…and I have had a hard time actually converting them BACK to jpeg for internet sharing.
RAW is another way of shooting on camera. It saves information that jpeg loses. The drawback is that the information makes the image coming out somewhat bland. So you have to edit it back into the image. That’s actually not a bad thing…because RAW images have so much information when they’re fixed–they can be stunning! Jpeg chooses what information is saved in your image. But if you’re using something like light room shooting and converting in RAW is a good idea.
The big difference?
Jpeg processes the picture on your camera for you RAW allows you to process the pictures.
I think in one of my earliest posts I said something about how I want to edit as little as possible to preserve what’s already there. I still agree with that statement. But at some point I realized that not everything can be done right on your camera and still look like a photographer. While I believe that a photographer should actually prove they know how to be one by strong composition, lighting, and focus– I think that a little less than half of photography is editing. Here’s an image I found before and after.
In some ways…I think it boils down to this. Are you planning on becoming a payed photographer? Or are you just everyone’s go to person to snap a photo and preserve a memory? If you’re planning on becoming a photographer…you should consider editing seriously. It’s fine if you want to be a natural light photographer (they still edit!) and if you want the quality of your image to shine through. You can still do that! Just don’t get into presets and filters and do stick to basic edits for lighting and blemish removal.
What’s YOUR Style?
I am going to do something new! I am gonna’ take you through my editing process on an image I took today. I promise the before photo will be the straight-off-the-camera photo. I am going to use screenshots so…yeah. Sorry. That’s the only way I can show you at the moment. I am literally editing this RIGHT NOW as I’m typing this post. So here’s my image:
Here’s what you need to know. This image was shot in overcast weather (today) and I used a picture style setting which increased saturation by 1 and increased sharpening by 3. This is on manual mode…so it’s not cheating 😉 . It’s just part of my style for nature shots. Keep in mind that my style for portraits is different. Also bear in mind that different lighting conditions will influence the choices I make for editing.
Fix the white balance!
2. Fix chromatic aberrations around the flower by removing magenta and purple from the photos on the color slider.
3. Exposure Fix.
Black level- +23
And that’s it! Here is the before after for you…
You can see my style is a slightly warmer edit overall. This is a pretty recent development which I described in my post I Was Doing It Wrong!
For portraits I like warmer too…but my editing process is different. The reason I chose to edit this image vs. trash it…is because I saw potential in it. I like overcast lighting, and was pleased with the focus. Even the exposure wasn’t bad. I also like the other Queen Anne’s Lace in the background+ I love the blur. So that was a keeper in my mind.
For new people this may still seem like a lot of editing. I understand. I went through the no-edit phase. I was shocked when I saw stuff on pinterest which showed me the unedited work of photographers I looked up to and realized…half of the image was editing!
That’s not to say that the on camera quality isn’t as important. I think it’s the #1 priority. I don’t wanna take awful pictures and then make them look good on an editor! Yuck. But I have noticed that as I learn photography my style and composition and all-around skills–just get better! So don’t get discouraged if your photos don’t look like the pros right off. You will become a better photographer as you practice…and will learn so much more. Oh, and just so you know–the pros’ photos don’t look like the pros’ photos right away either! They edit them too. But the pros are also a lot better photographers as well. A whole lot better than I am.
Do you edit your photos?
How much do you as a photographer (or how little) do you edit your photos?
So…this post is making me blush (😊) just a little. Because what I was doing wrong…should have been pretty obvious. Confused? You should be. In Texas this week I learned two lovely things that will stick with me always.
1. I WAS FOCUSING WRONG.
I literally have been having the hardest time getting my camera to focus where I want it to. I see other people who have similar trouble. But their trouble is generally just getting pin-sharp focus.
My problem was I could not get my focus points to adjust on MY VIEWFINDER. Isn’t that sad?😂 It cracks me up now to think of it. But when Sarah (a lovely photographer friend… go follow her new blog here.) told me that her camera does indeed select points while looking in the viewfinder–I knew it was time to look it up. This picture sums up what I figured out…
Pretty much you just press the magnifier button while looking in your viewfinder and the focus point will light up. Then you use the dial to find the focus point you want. It’s so fast…and it makes me happy. My life is changed 🙂 . But here is the article I got this tip from for Canon users. Notice when you click it how it’s a dummies article 😀 . That always makes me feel pretty stupid! lol.
And now an experiment showing you the difference between my old (LOOOOONNNGGGG) way of focusing on the live view screen vs. the new way.
These are unedited. The first photo is the new method. I was able to quickly and easily focus on the last screw (which is what I wanted to do). In the second photo the focus is all over the place and it’s a little hard to tell WHAT I was focusing on. Was it a screw in the middle? Or the bigger tool? Or maybe the little screw off to the right?….see what I mean? Both these photos were taken on the same manual settings which you can view if you click on the collage.
2. I WAS EDITING LAMELY.
With the editor I am now privileged to have I could do the basic edits much better than I was doing. My friend from Texas (Sarah again!) has Lightroom as her editor. I have an editor less pristine…but it does some of the same things. My problem was mainly flat images. Here’s an example (I used my reflector for this image).
Thanks to the reflector the light was pretty even in the photo. But my friend from Texas does something which is very simple and never even crossed my mind. She increases temperature! Literally temperature increase is my new favorite thing. I’m pretty sure I did about 0 changes on the second image except temp increase. And just look at the difference. Temp difference corresponds with white balance, btw. Here’s another one of a cat…
For this image I just cropped it…and increased the temperature. I love how it came out. Here’s a tripod timie of me. All that was done here was temperature increase, cropping, and a quick exposure fix.
My thoughts on temperature increase on the whole: I love it! It seems to just really provide a pop. And it seems to make sunlight look more like…sunlight 😀 .
And that’s what I learned in Texas! It was so lovely to spend time with my bestie and rub off eachother in the photography realm. There’s so much to learn. Also Sarah took my senior photos while we were there…and I love em! Here is a sneak peek of one of them that I love.
I couldn’t decide if I liked the color or the black and white one better yet. So I just put both. Click on the collage for full size and resolution.
And a sneak peek of the shoot I did of Sarah while we were in Texas. We edited them using Lightroom.
And again…couldn’t decide which I liked better 😀 😉 .
And a sneak peek from the senior shoot I just did of my friend! Editing is coming along splendidly. I don’t know if I’ll be sharing those photos or not. We’ll see. This is a more creative shot and one she wanted to do. Nice idea, btw. ❤
What do you think of temperature increase?
Do you as a rule like color or black and white better?
For the final post in this short series. This might end up being the longest…but I don’t know for sure. We were visiting some friends…this post has water, miniature ponies, azaleas, and swinging. Plus some more randomness.
Going home I shot pictures from the windows.
That’s a wrap, folks.
I hope you enjoyed this little four-part series. I could have added tons more than I did…but my memory is really getting small now.
On this day…we celebrated my birthday (way) early.
Guess what? I am doing my first actual senior shoot sometime soon. I will be attempting to do a dear friend’s photos for her (she follows this blog). I don’t know if I’ll be posting any of them or not. I hope so…but if nothing else—good practice 😀 .
We will gallivant all over creation. And have a lot of fun. 😉
Tune in to Part Four soon! It’s the ‘finale’ (but don’t expect TOO much, people!) so that will be it.