Living in the UK means that we don’t get a great deal of sunlight except in the summer but even that is difficult as our seasons have blurred drastically in the last couple of months. Today I’ll be showing you how I edit my photos – and yes, this includes those already featured on my blog!
Whilst every photo has its own characteristics dependent on things like lighting and shutter speed, I generally use the same steps for every photo that I edit.
There are however, some rules I abide by first before editing anything.
My first rule of thumb is to make sure that the base of the photo is good enough to edit. This includes good lighting (or at the very least, average lighting), a considered composition and a decent quality all-around. If all these boxes are ticked, it will make the editing process a lot easier and more successful. To give you a bit of guidance, I never take photos in artificial (bedroom) lighting because I know from experience, editing will never make the photo(s) look good.
My other rule of thumb is to have a design eye. Whilst I have told you above that I generally use the same steps to edit every photo, there are some steps that I simply skip if it doesn’t add anything to the photo quality. There are some photos that require little-to-no editing whilst others require more so it’s up to you to make that decision and decide what looks good.
Remember – you can always play and preview before anything becomes final!
Let’s get started shall we?
What I use to take photos: iPhone 7 (since June 2018)
Editing software I use: Adobe Photoshop CS6
But you can also use: Other versions of Photoshop (most recent is Adobe Photoshop CC), Adobe Lightroom or Affinity Photo which is a much cheaper option. There are also some great mobile apps out there for editing photos!
Open the Image
Get your image ready in Photoshop by going to File>Open
There are 3 different automatic functions within Photoshop. These functions don’t change the photo hugely but can help to set the overall tone of your image.
You can use one or two of the following:
TIP: Some photos don’t benefit from either of the functions so it’s important to play. If it’s not working because it’s giving the photo a strange yellow or blue tint (which tends to be the reason why it sometimes doesn’t work), click un-do (Edit>Undo) and move to next step.
Brightness & Contrast
An obvious step but it’s so easy to get too invested with upping the brightness and contrast without consideration for whether it looks good or whether it looks over-edited.
This is where your eye for design really has to come in. It’s sometimes good to click on auto however it doesn’t always work well so it’s best to adjust the toggles instead. I generally set the brightness anywhere from 0-24, and the contrast anywhere from 0-14.
Go to Image>Brightness & Contrast
TIP: If your image was taken in really good lighting, chances are, you require little-to-no adjustment on the brightness & contrast toggles. Over-editing will only ruin an image, not enhance it.
Admittedly, it takes some practice to understand the difference between each of these functions as they can appear to be so similar but are actually very different.
The Levels function works by adjusting and stretching the brightness levels of the image. As such, you are also adjusting the tone and contrast of the image.
Go to Image>Levels (I usually toggle the right arrow to 244 whenever I use this function.)
TIP: If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can always play around with the presets.
Curves is a very good all-round function that deals with the colour, tone, shadows and highlights of your image. More specifically, you are able to adjust the curve at different points in order to deal with the different tones of your image (for example, your mid-tones).
Go to Image>Curves
If you want to edit your photos in the least steps possible, I would recommend this function alone!
This is my favourite function for photos that are dark! It helps to truly brighten up the image by removing/lessening the shadows.
Go to Image>Shadows/Highlights (I have mine at 35 which seems to work for a lot of photos that I have edited but feel free to play around.)
Assess your Before & After
This is pretty self-explanatory. If your After is not looking better than your Before, you may perhaps want to start again? It’s therefore important to keep your base photo in this case until you’re 100% happy to save over it.
Don’t forget to save
Photoshop used to crash a lot on me back when I was using the CS3 version on my Windows PC so you can imagine my frustration whenever I lost the work that I spent a great deal of time doing.
Nowadays, it never crashes but it’s always important to save changes. Go to File>Save. You can either save over your image which is what I normally do or rename the image so that you have a before and after.
I hope this tutorial was helpful! I recently updated my Macbook to the new Catalina update which has meant Photoshop no longer works for me. I have since downloaded and purchased a new app called Affinity Photo and so far it seems to work just as well (keeping in mind that I have no used Photoshop to its full potential before).
I’d be happy to write more tutorials in the future if you enjoyed this one? Let me know.
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