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How to tell when I'm done editing


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9 replies to this topic

#1
meganhaderphotography

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How can I tell when I've edited a photo to make it the best it can be?  I don't like to do a lot of editing and usually don't, but my photos don't seem to stand out compared to some of the others I see on different sites.  I don't know if some of the photos that are absolutely stunning have been edited to the point they are unrecognizable from the original or if they came out of the camera that way.  It's been discouraging because I don't think I'm a bad photographer but my photos aren't getting a ton of attention.  Thanks for the advice!



#2
morticiaskeeper

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You don't always know how far to go, I tend to wait until a change doesn't improve things, but that only works if you edit in the same sequence every time.

To get that wow effect, it's more of a change of mindset. Imagine the shot as a billboard on the side of the road. While editing, keep asking yourself if it's a billboard, if it isn't, make it one, if you can't, discard it and move onto the next shot.

At first, you'll probably think you're going too far with the saturation, contrast and sharpening, but it'll come with time. Do an edit, leave it a week and edit the same shot again, see if it comes out different.

A lot of people on here will willingly have a go at editing your shot, just put the RAW on Dropbox and invite others to try it. It's eye opening, other people will do things you wouldn't even think of.

#3
TBonz

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Very true...Another option is to post an image (or a few) in this thread or start a new topic in the Critique section and ask folks for their input on how you can improve the image...Folks are pretty good here at not providing critique unless it is requested.  

 

I do very little editing with my images as well - basically just quick changes to exposure, contrast, etc. and cropping as needed.  It gets quite a bit easier as you do it over time...At her request I was showing my wife how I edit images...she wants to start doing some photography and take on editing photos (both hers and mine) and it really bugged her that I could pretty much look at the image on the screen and know what changes I needed (for example adding .25 to the exposure) without really having to play with it.  It comes with time...



#4
Merco_61

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Studying the editing exercises and see how different we all see things and how we have made our edits can perhaps give some ideas as well. Participating in the exercises is open to all members and the old ones aren't closed even after the original week.

Trying your hand at these and either trying to replicate a look you like or try something you get inspiration for as you look around seems like a good idea to me.

 

If you want to start submitting files for the exercise, shoot me a PM so I can add you last in this round and get you into the rotation for the next.

 

I usually try to go for minimal edits and getting things right in-camera. The exceptions are some HDR, focus stacking macros and using the Brenizer method for gigapixel panos. This is a side-effect of working with film in the 90-s and is a good habit to have as it is less time-consuming and makes the risk of photoshop disasters much less.



#5
Ron

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You gotta have a system. A workflow. And the software you use to process your images will, in large part, determine your workflow.

 

I use Adobe Lightroom (and Photoshop). I would estimate that probably 95% of my work is done exclusively in Lightroom. The only time I use Photoshop is when I need to make pixel level changes to the image. Things that can best (or only) be done using layers.

 

And, like Peter, I strive to get the best image I can in camera. That alone saves a ton of work later and gives you more options when you do decide to tweak an image.

 

I also recommend doing the editing exercises that Peter curates, even though I seldom have time to participate myself. If nothing else, learning how other people "see" an image will help sharpen your own perception. 

 

Lastly, perhaps you can give us an example of your own workflow. That, along with an example image, will help us help you.

 

--Ron



#6
dcbear78

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Without seeing any photos, I'm willing to bet that the difference you are seeing is not to do with processing at all. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's all about the light.

I noticed some time ago when looking at my own photos, the ones I truly loved and thought were of a much higher calibre all had one thing in common. Amazing light. Be that an amazing sunset, soft or even contrasty light in portraits. The quality of light made the photo what it was.

Some people just have a knack for finding great light. I think it comes with experience.

But all great photos, without fail, have amazing light.

But of course I am saying this without seeing any photos. I could be wrong.

#7
Merco_61

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To spin further on Darryl's excellent observation the order of factors that mage for a great photo is, IMO:

  1. Light
  2. Subject matter
  3. Composition
  4. Technique
  5. Technology

The light has to be great, the subject matter has to draw the viewer in, the composition has to complement the subject matter, it has to be correctly exposed with the correct focus and defocus to complement the subject matter and the correct lens, body, filters etc have to be chosen. If even one of these factors is missing, it can still be a nice photo but it won't be a great one.



#8
cooltouch

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These days, I do most of my editing using Photoshop's raw image converter. I find that it is so comprehensive that I usually don't need to do much to an image once it's been converted.  I find raw files to be much more condusive to editing than they are once they've been converted.

 

But if I've done a fairly extensive amount of editing to an image, I like to give it a simple test. I'll save the file and put it away for at least a day, and then look at it with a somewhat fresh perspective a day or two later. I find that, if I've over-edited the image -- taken things a bit too far -- this really jumps out at me. If that happens, I'll usually start over, keeping in mind the portion of the processing that went too far. Then I'll do the same thing as I did before. Save the file and put it away for a while. When I call up the file after a cooling off period and it looks good, I know I've got a good balance of enhancements and the image is most likelly a keeper.



#9
Ron

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It is, I think, a good idea to revisit your work a few days ... or longer, after an editing session. I've sometimes cringed after looking at some of my earlier edits.... what was I thinking?

 

--Ron



#10
TBonz

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I do that as well, but that is not always an option when working on a deadline.  As an example, I have done a first cull of some images of an event and pretty much cut the number of images to edit in half.  I still have a self-imposed deadline of getting those images edited and posted today.  I need to get a couple of those images into folks hands today as well which is why I set the deadline.  To me they are already late.  Mostly an issue because I was out of town and had no time while away to do any editing.  


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