A while back I did a beginners post on ISO, aperture and shutter speed – the basics behind taking manual photographs. I said at the time it was going to be some sort of ~series~ on photography, well that never really happened. I really want to though because I actually feel photography is one of the subjects I’m somewhat knowledgeable on, and to a complete beginner it all looks a bit daunting. Today I’m talking editing. Now however manually I do things, I don’t actually shoot RAW which I know makes a huge difference in editing. I’m sure I will pick it up eventually, but for now I just tweak slightly in post. I aim to get my photographs as good as they can possibly be when shooting, editing should be for enhancing, not fixing. I use Photoshop and gravitate towards the same tools each time within the software. Of course you can use other software, I mean even phones have your basic brightening tools now, but my overall tip would be to not overdo it, because that is very, very easy to do.
Framing is so important in photography and is one of those aspects that I try to perfect when taking the actual picture. But sometimes it’s good to pull back a little when shooting so that you can choose your crop as you have lots of excess to work with. The photo above had quite a lot of space around it, cropping in helped show off the product even more. When I do individual product review shots I try make the subject take up a good 80% of the frame so it shows of the product in all it’s glory! I also use the ruler tool to make sure everything is straight, as no one likes a wonky composition.
This is one of the most basic editing tools and it is so easy to abuse. I used to be a complete sucker for it, whacking the brightness and contrast up through the roof so that everything looked colourful and crisp. However, it didn’t – it looked over and underexposed all at the same time. But these are still super useful tools if used properly and subtly. If I up the brightness, I decrease the contrast and vice versa, I basically try to counterbalance them so things don’t end up looking false. I use them to have that ‘it was this well lit when I shot it’ vibe.
Colour Balance/Selective Colour
I tend to keep my white balance as neutral as I can when shooting, so that when it comes to the edit I can make it as warm or cool as I want, and I can really pop certain colours out. For the photograph above I really wanted to accentuate the reds and yellows and make it have a warm/autumnal feel. I use the colour balance tool to more generally select the tones of photograph, from shadows, mids and highlights. Then use the selective colour if I want to bring out or tone down any specific shades. My main advice with colour correction is to decide clearly what you want from a photograph before you start, oh and to stay away from ‘hue’.
One of my new favourite sections of Photoshop is the Vibrance tool. Now I’m not sure what version this was introduced in, but it has really changed the way I edit photos. It’s a simple slide across that works in the similar vain to saturation. But the difference is that I passionately hate saturation. Vibrance feels a lot more subtle, it just boosts the colours so they feel brighter and more radiant, without bringing out all the colours so your whites suddenly look bright blue like saturation can do. I nearly always up the vibrance now, and my photos look more aesthetic than ever.
Spot Healing Tool
Last but not least I sometimes do a little bit of airbrushing. I know, I know it’s bad, but I really do try to keep it to a minimum. Say on the above photograph, I’m trying to sell to you the lipstick (because it’s insanely beautiful) I don’t want you being distracted/put off by that huge spot I have on the centre of my chin. I’m not an expert airbrusher, it’s probably part of Photoshop that I know least about. I just stick to the (appropriately named) spot healing tool. I use it to remove the odd blemish. I don’t make my skin look flawless, and I definitely don’t use it at all when I’m reviewing a face product such as a foundation, but for these occasion it comes in handy.
Which tools do you use when editing?