Photo editing has two goals: to bring out the best of a composition and to embrace the photographer’s style. Ultimately, the editing process allows photographers to take a scene they witnessed and make their own. 

Because so many photo editing programs are now available to photographers, this guide won’t focus on the technicalities of editing in one single program. Instead, it will cover feats that photographers can accomplish by using almost any editing software. This guide will feature essential tips from professional photographers about how they edit their work, from cropping to mobile editing.

To edit a photograph well, you’ll need both technical skills and artistic sensibilities—a combination that can make the process seem daunting. And programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, and GIMP offer so many different tools and functions that it can be challenging to decide where to start. In an overly simplistic way of looking at it, there are two ways to edit for me.  Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo companies to help you choose. 

Here Some Different Tips That a Photographer Will Go Down

Follow Editing Trends.  

Do you need a degree to be a photographer

A few years ago, the ‘vintage’ look was on-trend, and now it’s moved onto de-saturating greens, overly warming skin tones and creating soft shadows. It’s quite a distinct look at the moment, and if looking at wedding blogs, etc., is your thing, you will have seen it all over the place. And yeah, it seems pretty cool. It is a fad, though, and in the not-too-distant future, we will look back on it as we do the ‘vintage’ look from 2014.

The ‘look’ will date your photos to a particular period in time, and one day you may well look back and be like “those greens are so blunted’ or ‘yeah, it looks cool but were we that orange”. Maybe you won’t, though, perhaps you’ll love that style forever, and that’s cool, that’s the beauty of it, it’s completely subjective, and your opinion is as valid as the following persons.

Follow the ‘Realism’ Editing Route.  

As I stay on this wedding photography path, I am constantly drawn to ‘realism’ or, should I say, a slightly enhanced version of realism’. I want the final product to bear a pretty spot-on resemblance to what was there. It’s another reason that I don’t Photoshop anything. I just like real-life better, I guess. I think that the tiny imperfections make it perfect.

Of course, it’s subjective, but for me, I think it’s the right path to be on. I hope that being on this road will mean that my brides and grooms will look back at their photos in the future, and the editing will not be dated to a specific period in time. As fashions shift, I’d like my guys’ n’ girls imagery to remain as timeless as it possibly can be.

Begin With the Auto Button.

Regardless of what photo editing application you choose, you’ll likely have the option of “auto”-correcting the image. Auto is pretty much the program’s intelligent response to human-made imperfections of the photo. We recommend seeing what the auto button can accomplish before moving on to customized edits. This process will clean up minor yet critical problems, such as a photograph being off-centre or straight lines appearing curved and distorted. 

Start by Looking at Lights and Darks.

To see the tone value of your photograph, start by looking at it in monochrome. By looking at the matter in black, white, and various shades of grey, you can ask yourself important questions: What parts of the photograph stand out, and what key details fade into shadow? Do any sections appear too bright, and are there bright or dark spots in inappropriate places? 

Before touching the highlights, the shadows, the whites, or the blacks, think of: “what do I want to be brighter and what do I want to be darker?'” Once you identify areas you want to brighten, using radial filters, which add brightness to your image from the centre of an object that’s expanding outward, and feathering, which softens the edited area’s edges. Without feathering, you’ll get a sharp line between the place where you added brightness and your original photograph. Feathering makes this transition smoother, so the photo barely even looks like you touched it.

Knowing your lights and darks from the start will set you up for success as you tackle the hue, saturation, and many other editing effects. Isolating a photograph’s tone value early on, and you can set the scene for all future edits. 

Remember That Cropping Matters.

When you take a photo, you’re already paying attention to the framing and composition. Still, it can be hard to remain fully aware of every corner of the frame as you try to capture a prime moment, 

“Cropping can almost be just as important as the photo you’re taking,” says photographer Stephen Vanasco, whose Skillshare Original Visual Appeal: The Art of Model Photography touches on the basics of portrait retouching. Vanasco suggests cropping a photograph in several different ways, experimenting until you land on the best look—you can always undo the edits you don’t like, so there’s no need to worry about experimenting.

A good crop involves careful consideration of the straight lines that naturally exist in a photograph. Most editing software will superimpose a grid over the image you’re cropping, and the lines from that grid should match the straight lines in your photo. For example, if you’re taking a picture of someone walking, their feet should align with a horizontal line in the grid. Meanwhile, a vertical line in the grid might match the length of a wall.

Cropping can add symmetry and balance to your creative photography: If there’s space at the top of a frame than at the bottom, you might try cropping out some of the area at the top. Cropping an image can also eliminate unwanted details. For instance, perhaps you’ve taken a photograph of someone posing outside, but there’s a trashcan at the edge of the frame. Cropping the image can easily cut out the visual blemish.

Pay Attention to Skyscapes.

Ignoring this sky means missing out on an opportunity to add more colour and vibrance to your photograph, whether it’s a daytime sky or a dark, nighttime expanse. 

When photographer Chris Burkard of Surfer magazine edits his daytime skies in Lightroom, he uses a graduated mask. Masking allows you to apply a set of edits to one specific area in your photograph without altering the rest of the image. It can be an incredibly crucial touch for a landscape photographer. Burkard uses masking to tone down highlights in daytime skies and show cloud depth, which adds depth to his overall photograph. He also looks at the saturation and often adjusts the vibrance in his photos. “Vibrance is smart saturation,” says Burkard in the Skillshare Original Outdoor Photography: Shooting at Sunset, Sunrise, and Night. Vibrance offers more control over the colour than saturation does. “It’s a way of getting colour out of the individual palettes of your scene, rather than just taking an overall brush and bringing out as much as you can.” Looking for a Wedding Photo Location? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo locations to help you choose. 

When it comes to nighttime skies, increasing the exposure can help bring out the moonlight, while adding a blue tint will often provide an ethereal quality or emphasize the nighttime mood. In addition to the moon, ambient light and light pollution can also influence a night sky’s look. “If artificial light contributes to the brightness of the sky you captured at night, then there’s no need to try and make it look 100% ‘natural’ in post-processing,” says Burkard. Remember what the sky looked like when you took the picture and channel that hue, tint, and saturation as you edit.

Consider Exchanging Detail for Drama.

When we think of dramatic photographs, often we’re thinking of contrast. Picture a bright, vivid face emerging from a shadowy hallway: This kind of image provokes questions and adds mystery to an otherwise straightforward portrait. When editing dramatic portraiture, fashion photographer Justin Bridges explains that sometimes enhancing contrast is worth sacrificing more minor features in an image. “I want to increase the difference between my highlights and my shadows, and I’m okay if I lose detail in the shirt [as a result],” Using natural light to create drama. To get an idea of what’s happening, you can use the preset tone curve they have for you: linear, medium contrast, and strong contrast. You’ll see how that automatically brings the lights and the darks and more of a sharp juxtaposition.

In indoor photography, editors tend to more acutely feel this compromise because indoor light sources have a more direct trajectory. Instead of posing subjects around the sun’s position in the sky, indoor photographers set artificial lights close to models or portrait sitters to illuminate specific parts of their bodies or faces. The natural light that comes in through a window can supply a similar effect. Indoors, it’s easy to highlight one part of a scene while simultaneously darkening another.

To create a dramatic effect indoors, amplify that difference in lighting, and don’t be too precious about specific details. “If a deep shadow covers a model’s one-of-a-kind tattoo but helps the bright parts of the photograph brilliantly pop, then it’s worth adjusting your photograph’s contrast to cover that tattoo,” says Bridges.

Quickly Apply One Photograph’s Edits to Another.

Photographers regularly have to create a cohesive collection of photographs. For example, a wedding photographer will want each picture from the reception to look like it was taken at the same party, so she’s not going to opt for a bluish tint and lots of contrast in one picture when the rest of the images capture the yellow glow of a candle-filled room and the detail in revellers’ smiling faces.

Although most photographers take care of each photograph individually during post-processing, the baseline edits that work well for one photo often apply to others captured in similar visual circumstances. Each editing program has its shortcuts, so take the time to learn the ones included in your software. Learning shortcuts, adjusting your preferences, or creating custom-made presets can make your edits appear more uniform throughout a set of photographs and can generally help you edit more efficiently. 

Constantly Study Colours.

As kids, we used a brown crayon to draw a tree trunk, then picked up the green when adding leaves. The sun was yellow, and the sky was blue. But in reality, a tree’s bark contains shades of yellow, orange, pink, green, and purple. A sidewalk that appears grey may be a washed-out blue, especially under the proper lighting. Training your eye to see the hidden colours you encounter every day will allow you to incorporate them into your photographs.

Even the most serious photographers use Instagram to showcase their work. It’s a great way to reach new audiences and engage with other like-minded creatives. In this final tip, we’ll touch on how to post the best photo possible—without a desktop computer. 

Mid-Contrast Black and White

If you’re starting to dabble in black and white photography, this may be a great starting point for you! Going monotone can instantly add a bit of interest to an otherwise blah photo. Be sure to adjust the contrast, clarity, blacks, and whites to have a medium level of contrast. Too little contrast and the photo will lose its impact or power. Too much contrast and the photo becomes too harsh. This limits the usability of some genres. A clean and classic mid-contrast black and white editing style works very well with portraits, event, and wedding photography.

Hdr

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This means that there’s a long range between shadows and highlights.

If you’re creating an HDR look in editing, this starts with brightening the shadows and lowering the highlights. When brightening shadows, be sure also to adjust the noise. You can do this in the Detail section in Lightroom’s Develop module. Otherwise, you’ll risk having a great deal of visual noise. The HDR editing style can be ideal for landscapes and architectural photography.

Cross-Processed

If you love experimenting with colour, try editing your digital photos to replicate cross-processing! Cross-processed looks to refer to the days of film. Back then, photographers would develop film in chemicals meant for different film types. This deliberate change in the chemicals would create funky colours that people loved!

With digital processing, though, photographers can use the Split Tone section in Lightroom’s Develop module to create similar looks. This look can be fun to use for just about any type of image. It is often seen on portraits, urban or natural landscapes, or still life photos.

Damaged Film Look

If you’re looking to go even farther with a funky and colourful look, create a damaged film look! This photography editing style again goes back to the days of film. It was often seen when the film expired or had some heat or light damage.

The results are unreliable. They typically show as colourful streaks mixed in with scratches. The look of the damaged film lends itself perfectly to grungy photos of urban settings. It can also be fun to incorporate even into portraits!

Dark and Moody

We see many bright, white, cheerful photos these days, but what about a moodier alternative? A dark and moody photography editing style can be wonderful for evoking emotion.

Shadows are dark and heavy, so our eyes get drawn to the highlights—our “white space” in the darkness rather than the lightness. The highlights and colours are so important in this editing style. It’s got more of a graphic approach to composition. Think of creating a sense of stillness and emotion with powerful compositions.

The dark and moody photography editing style is ideal for still life photography, some portraiture types, and detailed photos of just about any scene.

Editing Skills Every Photographer Should Know.

Lightroom Editing

Adobe Photoshop has long been the industry standard image-editing software for photographers. It’s a comprehensive and powerful program, and despite its reputation for being complicated, it can be used with relative ease by photographers of all ability levels. The possibilities it opens up are almost endless; from basic adjustments to high-end retouching to creating surreal composite images, Photoshop can do it all so, whether you intend to make major adjustments to your shots or just minor tweaks.

Tips Will Help You Do it Faster.

  • Using adjustment layers: Adjustment layers are the professional way to apply edits to your images. Adjustment layers sit above the Background layer (your original image) and allow you to make multiple adjustments without altering the original image or degrading its quality. Adjustment layers are accessed by clicking on the half-white, half-black circle icon at the Layers panel’s foot. If you want to save an image with adjustment layers intact, you’ll need to save it as a TIFF or PSD – a JPEG is a flattened and compressed file type that doesn’t support layers.
  • Healing Brush: The Healing Brush is a great tool for performing retouching tasks ranging from simple dust spot removal to more complex object removal. To use the tool, hold down the Alt/Option key and click close to the area you want to retouch to sample the replacement pixels for the repair, then click and drag to brush the sampled pixels into the area you want to retouch. Suppose you’re unhappy with an edit, press Ctrl+Z to go back a step (it’s a good idea to work in short brush strokes so that you can step back without having to undo a large amount of editing). The tool works by blending the sampled pixels with the original pixels rather than copying the sampled pixels wholesale like the Clone Stamp Tool.
  • Blending modes: Blending modes are a simple yet powerful tool for changing how a layer interacts with the layer below. You can apply blending modes to any layer, including adjustment layers, to achieve a range of effects such as changing brightness, contrast and colours. A good way to see how they work is to make a copy of the Background layer by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+J. With the new layer active, go to the dropdown menu at the top of the Layers panel – it’s set to Normal by default – and experiment with the different blending modes. At Brighton Savoy, we have compiled a list of the Best Photobooth Hires in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

Conclusion

Whatever becomes your signature photo editing style will most likely be combining several of the above editing styles. The idea, though, is to use the list above as a kick start for experimenting so that you can find what suits you best. 

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