How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

Being a photographer can be very rewarding when you out and about taking great photographs of people, or if you enjoy doing landscape photography. Enjoying a great view from hotel to visiting a known landmarks, photography can be rewarding in so many ways. Taking photographs of people comes with their own set of challenges as I found out so many times, where as doing landscape photography is just you and nature. With Landscape photography you may have to time your photography with weather patterns, seasons or just head out and hope for the best. If you use a digital camera, editing your photographs is so much easier. What are my favourite techniques for ‘How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs?’ That is what I want to attempt to explain with this blog post.

Starting your Editing Process

So now you have finished your photography session and you take your memory card out of the camera. You want to look at the images on the memory card to see if everything turned out as you expected. You may find you have some under exposed or over exposed photographs and want to try to recover them. That sometimes happens to me and in fact, it happened not too long ago on a photoshoot I did last week. I use a photography package from Adobe. I get Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for roughly £10 a month. I get free updates and I don’t ever have to worry about upgrading to the next version of Photoshop or Lightroom, as these are included in the package.

If you have not seen my post on Fantastic Ways to Give Your Photographs That Fine Touch. I would suggest you go check that post out too.

Here is one of the example of an under exposed photograph which I pulled off my memory card. Sometimes they look fine on the camera, but come out totally different on the computer. Don’t ask me why, because I just don’t know the answer. I have asked myself this same questions many times over. Anyway, I wanted to recover this photograph below. How did I achieve the end result in the image below?

(Because the photographs used in this post are all of very high resolution, they may appear smaller than the really are depending on which browser you use. Please click on any image for closer look.)
Before-n-After-Editing-4_2-Watermarked - How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

The easiest way to generate quick adjustments in Adobe Lightroom is to use Presets. These are a set of options which can make quick and simple changes according to what you done in the past. The ‘Preset’ can be made by yourself or purchased through a 3rd Party website. I have managed to acquire a set of ‘Presets’ which emulate the colours and graining effect which is similar to using some of the old 35mm film’s. These Presets are available from a website called Mastin Labs, they have four sets to choose from. The Presets they have available are: Fuji Pro Pack, Portra Pack, Illford black and White pack and the final set which has not long been released called Portra Pushed.

You can also perform extra adjustments to these presets to make your photographs more unique. The contrast on these presets are usually set way too high, so I lower the contrast down to around 20 to 30 on the contrast slider bar. For all the images/photographs used in this post, I used the Fuji Pro pack. I like the Fuji Presets, because the soften the colours and because it also emulates the Fuji Professional 35mm film. The Fuji Pro set is popular with some photographers for their wedding, fashion and travel photography. So with one click of the mouse, I can achieve great results within seconds. I can then make small tweaks where necessary.

Before-n-After-Editing-Watermarked | How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

Another adjustment I sometimes have to carry-out, is raising the exposure over and above what I normally should, so to counter this; I have created a separate layer (yes you can create a layer using Lightroom). These are called Layer Adjustments and be used for many different things, like changing colour or saturation. So I used a preset I made myself to increase the exposure without increasing the noise effect when you increase the exposure of any photo.

Before-n-After-Editing-3_2-watermarked | How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

When digital noise appears on your photographs, you can counter this to some extent by using the ‘Noise Reduction’ settings on the right hand side of Lightroom which looks a bit like the image below. Now I don’t usually raise my Luminance levels above 50 on the slider, because can make my images a bit too soft around the edges of my model(s) features.

Luninance

After the noise adjustments have achieved levels I am happy with, I will then zoom in to the image and perform some subtle and minor changes. Like removing skin blemishes, moles or spots. I also make the Iris colours stand out more and make the whites of the eyes more clear. The key is make the eyes more realistic without making the image seem too photoshopped.

DSC_5160-Watermarked | How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

To heal skin blemishes, you can press the ‘Q’ key in Lightroom and this will bring up the ‘Clone/Heal’ brush. I use the ‘heal’ option as this chooses to make all areas of the skin the same tone and texture of the area which needs healing. The Heal option will automatic make a selection which is the closest match. I very rarely have to redo or make a heal, as the software is pretty accurate in making the selection for you.

DSC_4521-Watermarked | How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

Whitening the teeth

I try to make selections which are more realistic and not too white or look OVER photoshopped. I have seen some photographers make the teeth seem way too un-realistic, so it can be a fine balance.

Before-n-After-Editing-2_1-Watermarked | JUNE 19, 2017 How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

Depth of Field is another way to add another dynamic to your images, but this can only be achieved while taking your photographs and the lenses you use. I used a 50mm Prime lens which can open the aperture all the way up to ƒ/1.8. For these images I had an aperture of ƒ/3.2 for most of these photographs. This allows more light to enter the lens but will also make the background more blurred. For more on depth of Field, you can read my post on the subject found HERE!

DSC_4897-Watermarked | How to Achieve the Best Results for Editing Photographs

Finally

Finding a technique that works well for you when editing your photographs is all part of the learning process. Editing photographs can be the very time consuming, labour intensive as well as distracting. When it comes to editing my photo’s, I find the best way to get the job done; is to find ways to make my work load easier and less time consuming, while making sure the client is happy with the end results. Having or making your own presets will certainly aid in helping lightening the work load. Putting ‘Watermarks’ is another way of stopping people from trying to just download them from your website and using them as their own, without your permission. With ‘Watermarks, you can use text or a graphic, like the one I used for this blog post. You can use any image as logo as it resizes well and doesn’t obscure your images. Lower the opacity down to 50% and you have transparent watermark.

I hope you all find this post beneficial in some way. To know more about the dress my daughter is wearing, please visit my wife blog post: Roco Clothing Paisley Of London Olivia Flower Girl

John M

12 Comments

  1. Editing photos is the one area that I’m really unclear about. I do edit them, but to be honest I don’t really know what I’m doing. I play around until it looks better! This has been really useful, thank you

    1. its one of the things which annoys my wife but editing my photographs has to be done. I am glad you liked my post.

      John M

    1. Editing is the hardest part of photography, but pays to take time and get your photos looking right when they come off the memory card. Glad this post helped.

      John M

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