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Image editing, they all need it, but how much and what we do as photographers differentiates us; in this blog I’d like to explain why I edit, how I edit and some examples. Forgive me if I’m telling you something you already know in the first, following paragraph.
I shoot in RAW, which for those of you unfamiliar with the term is the highest resolution image cameras can produce; I like to think of a RAW file as a film negative. Just like the negative of film days, it need processing and developing before we can deliver the files in a format you can enjoy: jpeg. Whilst we are talking about jpegs, there are lots of different resolution/sized images you’ll come across that are jpegs; those that are on the internet, particularly sites like Facebook have to compress their images enormously to manage the 350 million uploaded every day! so the quality and sharpness of the images is often lost. Even on my photography specific website I can’t upload the full sized images- you as a potential client flicking through my gallery would have to wait a couple of seconds before each image appears, so I fall foul of this crunching of my files too; quality is reduced by about 90% on my site.
However, let’s get on with the good stuff. I edit using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
Lightroom gives me the opportunity to organise, process and develop your images whilst Photoshop solves some problems- importantly, I don’t use Photoshop to make you look like a doll. A featureless doll with just eyes and lips, a look you’re familiar with in one off those Snapchat filters we are all familiar with. I don’t use Photoshop for that because the way you look is not a problem that needs solving, the beer glass that someone left on a table in front of an otherwise beautiful photo is a problem. Let me explain with some photos:
Photoshop. This its Sarah and Simon at Sandy Cove Hotel wedding venue near Ilfracombe.
The image was taken straight after they’d got married, they hadn’t even signed the register yet so I didn’t want to intervene, I didn’t want to pose them or get involved at all; I just wanted them to have that first photograph as Mr and Mrs. In the original, there are a number of reflections that complicate the image so I got rid of those using Photoshop to replace the areas Sarah’s dress is reflected. There are a few annoying marks on the floor and some nasty creases in Simon’s trousers needed tidying up, so again Photoshop was used to remove those. Lightroom was used to develop the photograph into a specifically warm black and white. Because I didn’t know if they’d prefer a black and white or colour version of the photos, I delivered both (after the edits to both the colour and black and white). Incidentally, they prefer the black and white and are getting in printed as an enormous print.
Lightroom. Re-touching photographs gets a bad name (airbrushed skin and those snapchat/instagram filters spring to mind). I want to produce images that stand the test of time so I never produce images like those black and white with a spot of colour (a red umbrella in an otherwise B/W shot) those are immediately dated as late 80s/90s images and in my opinion should reside there. I think the airbrushed skin that removes any indication of a persons age are equally of the past. Nowadays (and I cannot see any reason why they will upset future generations of photographers and viewers of your photos) as professionals we only remove temporary marks ( a smidge of lipstick, a pimple ) and just smooth skin a little. But why smooth skin? Well, I only ever do it if I’m shooting a close up portrait - a headshot and that’s because I have professional camera and professional lenses. The detail possible with the glass is too good. It’s fantastic to see the fine netting of your dress, but printed large, we’d also see every pore, every little baby hair that covers our faces so I just smooth that out a little so you look like you do in real life and not under a microscope. Remember, I only need do it when I’m taking a head-shot and very rarely with guys as of course we have flawless skin (I’m joking!!!, we get pimples too, I just don’t need to remove any tiny facial hairs or smudged lipstick).
If anyone had a permanent scar I would leave it unless asked to remove it, after all you’ve got to share the amazing story about how you were attacked by a shark.
Lightroom. This its Charlotte at Ocean Kave wedding venue Westward Ho!.
The first image, straight out of camera, needs warming up, the distracting chairs darkened so they are less visible, the details in the dress and warmth of her complexion are brought back by fine tuning the exposure and the smallest amount of skin smoothing. You’ll see in image 3 that her skin texture is still there; she’s not been “airbrushed”.
There’s more than editing that make this photo, I knew I had to position Charlotte with that dark background and place her so that the light would shine in her eyes, in fact you can even see me, holding the camera reflected in her eyes.