There is a trend these days for people to be against editing saying things like #nofilter or “This is direct from camera” while there is nothing wrong with that, there is a tension with doing that and shooting raw. If you shoot jpg and share that photo with out editing doesn’t mean your photo hasn't been extremely edited, it has. Every camera has to interpret the data that the sensor collects. That means that any time you see that photo and not just bundles of data, it has been edited. This is why I find it so important to shoot raw. For the same reasons I always shoot in manual I always shoot in raw. I want to control every element of the photo that I can. If you shoot in jpg you will lose some of that data and will have less leeway in editing to create the composition that you want. There are only a few things to control in photography aperture, shutter speed, iso, focal length, editing, and of course what you choose to take a photo of. That isn’t a lot of options, so I like to make the most of them that I can. In this blog I am going to do something pretty rare show you true before and afters of my images. Think of this as a peak behind the curtain...
Before and after of a shot of Seattle. I underexposed the image to try and maintain details in the bright reflections on the buildings making for the a very dingy dark photo. The light was a beautiful golden color which was making the whole sky glow due to lots of moisture. The main edits were bumping exposure turning down the highlights brightening shadows and increasing the saturation for yellow and orange.
When an editor like Lightroom shows you a raw photo, that is just the baseline interpretation of the data. It will look muddy dull and lifeless as the raw interpreter isn’t doing accept showing you the average of the data for each pixel. Editing of raws gets more complicated the better the sensor is as they are able to collect more data, more data than the human eye can even see. Making sure that your edit looks natural, but still has pop and interest is important.
This is a very basic edit. Once again I slightly underexposed to maintain details, this time in the snow and clouds, so the first thing I did in edition was to brighten the image and turn down the highlights again. After that I brightened that shadows and removed a tourist who walked bast the "do not walk sign".
I try and edit to a feeling more than 100% what something looked like. A photo wont have the same impact as being in a place so editing to still give the feeling is a challenge is often means focusing on ways to highlight what was giving your subject that feeling to begin with. Was it the colors, the textures, the light? Focusing your editing on highlighting whichever element drew you to take the photo to begin with will make your photos really pop.
A more intensive edit. This was a very challenging shot. My main job for the day was as a drone pilot, so I only took about 10 photo total. the sun was coming through crazy haze and mist from the rapid just upstream. The mist was landing on my lens creating beautiful patterns, but also making for some challenging elements. This edit was all about making the products pop, while also bring back some of the details of the beautiful location we were shooting in. It captures the amazing glowing gold feeling the morning had far more than the unedited raw.
Editing is about feeling. Don't be afraid to edit to what looks right to you, and don't be afraid to make editing an iterative process. It is more easier to get a feeling for over or under edited if you give your eyes a break every now and then. I will do a post soon about my favorite activity to really dial in your editing skills!
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