What's In A Photo Edit?

January 25, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

On average, any given image I display is 10% equipment, 10% technique, and 80% post-processing. Before the digital days, it was all about the darkroom and hoping the exposure settings were correct when the picture was taken. Now, it's all about the edit. I've heard it said "It's not about IF Photoshop is used (these days), it's about HOW it's used". Almost every digital image photographers take is tweaked in some way to get to the final image.

For starters, shooting in RAW can help more than anything. All the information stored in the image is preserved so that almost every part of it can be manipulated in a post-processing program such as Photoshop or Lightroom. If you're worried about RAW files taking up all your hard drive space, most DSLRs have a RAW medium and RAW small setting to help with this. For everyday shooting, medium and small will work fine, especially if you don't plan on printing larger than an 8x10. 

We all know photography is a dynamic industry, dictated by the unlimited creativity of the photographer. Most photographers have the versatility to do almost any style of edit on their pictures. Let's take a look at this image below.



Image 1 is straight out of the camera. Colors are crisp, the focus and exposure are fine (although the highlights might be blown out a bit, I am using that "effect" creatively here), but initially, I see a few things I'd like to change.

In image 2, not only did I convert it to black & white, but I also cropped it in a little closer to my subjects and straightened the image lines on the roof.

In image 3, I put image 2 through a program called Analog Efex Pro 2 in the Nik Collection, which is a simple Photoshop plugin by Google. The effect I chose allowed me to put more of a pink tone on the image while bumping up the contrast to add more depth and attention to my subjects. There are a ton of cool effects you can get from the Nik Collection. The possibilities are endless and it's definitely worth checking out (they even offer a free trial of the software).

The above examples are easy adjustments that can add a little pop to your images without a lot of extra time in processing. There are cases, however, where you may want to add a more dramatic change to your photos. Let's look at the example below.



The image on the left is straight out of the camera. Initially, it feels cold (because it was!), so I wanted to add a little bit of warmth and beauty to the image to make it stand out. By blending in a simply sky, adding some paint to make it appear like there was a sun setting, and enhancing some of the colors in the field and her bouquet, the image has come to life and has a warmth about it now.

Whether you're looking to gently enhance your photos or add a dramatic change for an intended outcome, editing changes everything! If you're reading this and you're not a photographer, just wanting to get your pictures made, know that photographers have many tools and may have alternate editing styles, which may sometimes be available upon request.

What are some of your favorite editing styles? Leave me a comment.


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