WHAT'S IN AN EDIT?



Editing. It’s no longer the dirty word it once used to be.


It is generally now accepted as part of digital photography. And so it should be. It is, after all, a vital part of the creative process.


That said, there can still be a lot of ambiguity outside of the photography circle as to what exactly goes into “editing” and what it actually entails. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not about going mad in PhotoShop.


In this post I’m going to give you a high-level view of the key aspects of my editing process to clarify exactly where all that time in front of the computer is spent. And if you’re already a Lightroom pro then check out these valuable shortcuts for improving your editing workflow.



FUNDAMENTAL ADJUSTMENTS


This is where I begin and most of my editing process is spent making what I call fundamental adjustments. Note: fundamental doesn’t mean basic. Fundamental means crucial – you can’t avoid but make some or all of these changes.


Amending some of the fundamental elements of an image, even slightly, can make huge changes and help move the original towards the direction you want. Some examples of fundamental adjustments include:

  • Exposure

  • White balance

  • Black and white levels

  • Vibrance

  • Clarity

  • Enabling lens corrections

  • Cropping and rotating



PERSONAL TOUCHES


Once I’ve completed the fundamental adjustments I move onto the fine-tuning. These changes are more about refinement; they are changes that reflect my own personal style and taste. For this purpose I turn to:

  • Tone curve

  • Colour grading

My personal signature can be honed by making very careful changes with just a couple of tools. The first controls the amount of contrast throughout different areas of the image; the second makes adjustments to the hue, luminance (brightness) and saturation of independent colours.


Combine the two and this is where an image becomes my own.



DETAILS


I nearly always save this part of the process until the end. How much I do will depend on the type of image I am dealing with.


For example, if I am editing a landscape image I will be concentrating on the sharpness and reducing any unwanted digital noise. If I’m editing a portrait I might be making selective adjustments to the skin or enhancing detail and colour in the eyes.

  • Sharpness

  • Spot removal

  • Select adjustments using brushes

  • Noise reduction

These are the finishing touches that can make all the difference to an image.



DELIVERY


Which brings us to the final and all-important part of the editing process: preparing the images for delivery. Exactly how I prepare the files will again depend on the subject and end purpose but the main considerations will be the:

  • File size

  • Resolution

  • File type

Once this is done it’s time to upload them to a secure gallery and let the client know the are ready!


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This is a high-level view of the editing process but hopefully it gives you a little insight. If you have any questions about the process or would like me to write a future post about a particular editing technique, just shout!