When photography was first invented, the images were pretty rudimentary. When you consider the equipment early photographers used, the crude quality makes complete sense.
Photographers quickly began to experiment with new techniques. In a few decades, they’d moved on from printing whatever they could achieve to editing their images to perfection before printing.
The earliest known example of an edited photo is one taken of Abraham Lincoln way back in 1860. It was the head of Abraham Lincoln, anyway — the photo editor created a composite of Lincoln’s head and John C. Calhoun’s body.
Since then, editing has become a widely accepted part of the photo creation process.
In this age of chronic photoshopping of images on the internet, some people question a photographer’s proficiency and the genuineness of his photographs when they use photo editing tools like Photoshop and Lightroom for the processing of their photos after shooting them. When they talk about photo editing, they mistake the term “post-processing” to “image manipulation.” We shouldn’t confuse the two terminologies.
Image manipulation is the alteration of an image to be something else rather than what the original image shows, sometimes with deceptive intent.
Post-processing of an image can adjust and correct the vision to achieve a more realistic photo than your digital camera shot’s raw image. It doesn’t always lead to image manipulation. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
Do Photographers Edit Their Photos?
Yes, they do. And if you’re serious about photography, you need to. Shooting is only the first half of creating a good photograph, and it doesn’t end after you press the shutter button. Photo editing involves modifying, correcting, and adjusting your images to improve them. It can start from the simple tone and colour enhancements and removing unwanted elements to image manipulation like adding wild special effects and dramatic retouching of your photos. Most of your edits as a photographer are going to lean on the former. Still, there are times when you might need more complicated adjustments.
Also, if a photographer is too busy to edit their photos, they will hire a company to retouch them.
The truth is, photo editing is not a new thing. It was already existent even during the film photography days. During those times, photographers used different darkroom methods in editing the raw images from the film negatives to create a beautiful final product. From development time to something more complicated like using coloured gels or prisms between lens and photo paper to create artistic distortion.
Even the choice of film is considered as photo editing. Different types of films produce various image quality. Some amplify colours; some make black and white images; others have either high contrast or low contrast photos. Your choice of stock film will determine how the final product will look.
Why Edit Photos?
When it comes to producing photos, the widely accepted best practice is to do as much as you can “in-camera”. This means getting the shot as close as possible to your visions before you ever open the image file in Photoshop. After all, this saves a significant amount of time you’d otherwise spend in front of the computer. And it makes for a cleaner, higher-quality final image.
There’s a lot you can’t achieve in-camera, and extenuating circumstances (like bad lighting situations) can push a photographer to make decisions they know they’ll have to fix in the editing process.
Particularly artistic and creative edits might only be accomplished in post-processing. Of course, you need the photography basics — the depth of field, composition, framing, focus, etc. — but something like unnatural saturation or blending two objects need more advanced edits after taking the shot. Other than creative improvements, a couple more reasons why a photographer would choose to edit their photos. Looking for wedding photography Melbourne? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
The Advantage of Using RAW Format
Nowadays, digital photographers prefer to shoot in RAW, which is the equivalent of negatives in film photography. RAW format preserves as much information as it can from a captured image. It contains a much more significant amount of colour and texture details. And just like a negative, an image in RAW format is not directly usable as an image. It cannot be posted or printed until it enters post-processing or editing. It will then be converted to another viewable format like JPG or PNG before printing it or posting it to social media sites.
So you might ask, I have a high-end digital camera that can save an image ready for print, viewing, or posting to social media sites; why save an image as a RAW format that still needs editing?
While most digital cameras can shoot photos and save them directly to JPG format rather than RAW, there’s a massive problem with shooting in JPG. Your camera still captures all this considerable detail from the sensor when you hit an image but processes it in a predetermined way that can’t be reversed.
As a result, your camera is ditching around 90% of the information from the captured image due to the JPG file format’s limitations. Just imagine the amount of detail that you lost shooting the same picture and saving it as JPG with a measly 4 to 6 MB file size compared to keeping it as RAW with a file size upwards of 25 MB – that’s huge!
RAW format, on the other hand, contains much more light levels than JPG. Because of this, you can overexpose or underexpose the images that you shoot without losing too many details. This gives you the flexibility to adjust exposure and other photo elements when you process the RAW images you cannot do with your JPGs without killing more details and introducing noise.
However, RAW images will appear ugly at first straight out of the camera but still has all the information it needs to create an image. Like mentioned earlier, a RAW image is not directly usable as you can’t just open it in any application. It would help if you used a designated photo editing tool that can process RAW files, like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, to pull all the information captured by your camera so you can process the image and make it usable.
Another reason why you should shoot with the RAW format is because of a dynamic range. Dynamic range in photography is the range of light intensities from the shadows to the highlights. When you take photos on a bright sunny day, most of the time, the dynamic range of the scene is too high outside the range of our cameras. However, we can still see all the details (or most of them) with our own eyes. No camera can capture the same amount of detail and range of light that our eyes can.
Photos Need to Be Optimised for the Channel They Are to Appear On.
Have you ever shopped on Amazon? If you have, you’ve seen a lot of edited photos. Amazon and other eCommerce marketplaces have rules about approved product photos, so the photographers who create those shots must follow suit. In this case, many photographers rely on services to make the images as bright, attractive, and compliant as they need to be.
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The Photographer Ran Into Bad Conditions at the Shoot.
When you’re striving to make the best image possible, you control the situation as best you can. But sometimes there are things outside of your control, so you have to make do.
If the lighting isn’t optimal, you weren’t able to take your time to perfect the set, or even if you didn’t have the best camera, these are all instances in which you might need to rely on Photoshop or other programs to bat clean up for you.
How Much of Product Photography Is Editing?
You might be wondering how much of an image is achieved in-camera versus how much photographers “fix” afterwards in programs like Photoshop.
The answer (like most in life!) is… it depends. If you’re looking at a fine art photo or a beauty portrait, they’ve likely had a lot of editing and retouching. If you’re looking at a primary product photo, on the other hand, those images are likely to have been edited with a light touch. No one wants a product that looks nothing like the picture on the internet.
How do photographers edit photos?
Now that you’ve seen some of what’s possible, maybe you’re thinking, “But how? How do they make these edits so effortlessly?” Unlike the past, when all manipulation was done in a dark room, today’s photographers use a variety of tools and computer programs to get their photos in tip-top shape. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Essential Considerations in Choosing a Software Editing Tool
Now that you’ve learned how vital photo editing is, it’s time to get started on photo editing. There are many photo editing tools out there; some are much more complicated to use than others. However, there are basic things that you need to consider when choosing the software that’s right for you:
This tool is pretty self-explanatory and straightforward, but there are times when this tool can do wonders for your images. This gives you the ability to recompose your image after you’ve shot it for greater emphasis. It allows you to remove unnecessary spaces and elements in the picture to focus on the subject.
Exposure is the overall brightness of the image and probably the most common photography problem that needs editing. As mentioned in the previous section about dynamic range, adjusting an image’s exposure can bring out more details that are blown out by the highlights and the shadows.
This is the range of black to white in your images. Contrast is also one of the most common problems that need editing using a software tool. A good photo editing tool should boost contrast to a RAW image by brightening the highlights or darkening the shadows.
Adjusting contrast might fix some colour problems at times, but there are still instances when you need to do colour correction. This is especially required when you used incorrect white balance configuration in your camera. The image’s colours become inaccurate even though the subject’s colours look regular with the naked eye.
You also use colour correction when the colours of an image get a little bit too saturated or make specific colours in the image pop out.
Retouching using clone stamp and healing brushes
Retouching is something that a photographer can spend years mastering, especially when you’re into portrait photography. Most photographers usually won’t go beyond simple dust correction or remove other elements that you don’t want to be included in a photo. When you shoot images with a dirty sensor, you can still alter the images and remove the dust particles that got included in them.
You can also use these tools to remove blemishes or freckles on your model’s skin or stain on his/her clothes that you overlooked while shooting. You may also remove the occasional electrical lines and telephone wires that you don’t want to appear in your photos.
These are the essential tools you want to be included when choosing a good photo editing software for your photos. Most image editors nowadays go far beyond these capabilities, though. However, the tools outlined above are the must-have tools that you’ll use very often in your image post-processing chores.
What edits do product photographers make to their images?
Each of the options above has different capabilities, but photographers often take a few steps — regardless of their photo subject.
Some everyday edits include things like:
- I am cropping to adjust the frame of the photo and draw attention to a specific subject.
- Straightening to make sure the horizon of the image is level. A tilted subject in a photo looks and feels off-kilter. (We’ll straighten your shots for free with any order.)
- I am adjusting brightness to ensure a pleasant exposure. Images that are too bright or dark lose essential information and lack detail in high-contrast areas.
- Retouching and removal of blemishes, wrinkles, dust, and other imperfections.
- Removal of unwanted objects from the background or the foreground.
- Optimisation for different channels. Every channel — from print to Amazon, social media to catalogues — has different standards for your photos to stand up to.
And these are just the basic edits. You can make images artistic, minimalistic, and evocative — all with the power of editing.
How much editing is too much?
One downside to all these fantastic Photoshop capabilities is that it can be easy to over-edit a photo. (Here’s an article about what that might look like.)
When you’ve been staring at the screen for hours, you might lose a sense of what looks good and add too much vibrance or clarity to your image. This can result in a too-intense or “crunchy” photo. A few more tell-tale signs of too much editing are overly smoothed skin, missing details (like areas of too much highlight or too much black), and extreme vignetting. If it’s a little too much, it will make the photo “feel” wrong to a viewer, but if it’s a lot too much? It might be a total fail. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.
“Can We Have All the Photos from the Shoot?”
No, and here’s why:
Clients do not want your unedited RAW pictures.
Typically, any commercial and professional photographer (except, e.g. photojournalists) capture their images as RAW files, uncompressed files, straight out of the camera. It would help if you had special software to convert them and make them look good. They have dull colours, low contrast, look flat and desaturated. Still, they are the go-to files for professionals as they contain all information to tailor the image’s look.
It’s like a painter who needs at first all different kinds of colours to create whatever he wants. Let’s look at photography back in the days: You brought your film to a photography studio or lab to get the film developed. With just the movie in your hands, you can’t do anything with it. Hence, you paid an expert to translate your film/RAW data into a fully developed picture.
That is precisely what happens nowadays: Photographers take a RAW picture that doesn’t look good but contains all the image information you need to get a perfect looking image. The final photos are typically delivered in JPEG, a compressed version of the picture, so you, as a client, can easily store and post it online. In the past, you paid a specialist to develop your film, why wouldn’t you now?
Clients don’t want ALL your images.
It is horrifying for the simple reason that you don’t want to let down your client; you don’t want to upset them or disappoint them. But the answer to that question of at least every semi-professional photographer is and should usually be “no”. Then the arguing starts, and your client starts asking you why you don’t give them all your pictures.
Don’t get me wrong! I understand the client. I would ask that too! No one likes to give up control. Especially if you pay for it, it is hard to trust a person you barely know. Hence, they want to make sure to get the best shots they could have. Understandable!
But here’s what the client usually does not know (and therefore doesn’t understand before you explain it to them): I, as the photographer, know precisely why I took specific pictures and what a large number of photos I might have shot to capture one single moment. For one picture, it can be up to 20 shots.
I am pretty sure that people wouldn’t like to go through an entire wedding shoot and pick the best images themselves. That is an included service in my photography booking. It is a lot of work!
So if I give out 400-500 edited images of a wedding (even if I shot 3,500), I think there is still enough room for your client to pick the favourite moments they want to share with their friends. What I am trying to do here is to build a bridge between both very different perceptions of the creation process, between the hired specialist and the (often uneducated) client.
Moving forward with your photo edits
Now that you know the secrets of photo editing, you may look at images differently. Some feel concerned about the effects of the perfection of images we see daily, but the beauty and precision inspire others. All we know is this: If you want a perfect picture, and you’ve got a vision in your mind of what it should be, then editing can help you get there. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.