My Editing Process | For Photographers

I was asked by a blog reader if I would mind posting about how I edit my pictures. I guess this post is proof that, no, I don't mind. :-) Many people are reluctant to share their "secrets," but the fact is all the information you can ever want is pretty much out there if you look for it. Nobody is completely original in their process, and if you can be a help, then why not share a little?

Learning editing was definitely a process of trial and error for me. I started out with Adobe Photoshop Elements and like most beginning photographers, got sucked into the world of ACTIONS! Ooooh, so many fun actions. :-) I did have the advantage of having been looking at good photographers' work before I really started getting into it myself, so I avoided making too many glaring mistakes that are common. I did my share of playing with vintage actions, but eventually came to the realization that while I occasionally liked them on some photos, and some photographers do it very well, that was not my style. I finally found something that I liked pretty consistently.

Then I bought Adobe Lightroom. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, because it was definitely an adjustment from Photoshop. Once I discovered the Sync function, though, I was sold. :-) I took some photos I had edited in Photoshop, and attempted to recreate the look in Lightroom to figure out what on earth all those sliders did.

That brings us to today, where I have reached a point of consistently editing with the same look across my work. I don't use presets in Lightroom because though I have the same style, conditions vary from shoot to shoot and no preset is going to fit that perfectly. Instead I edit a photo from the set and sync it with all the other photos that match. Here are some before and afters - I shoot in RAW so the SOOC images are very dull and flat and need a little boosting.

My typical basic edit involves bringing up the exposure a little if necessary (I am still working on achieving the right exposure in camera - it tends to look brighter on my camera's display than when I get it on to my computer, so I need to work on over-exposing even more than I think I need to!). Then I will boost the contrast, bring down the highlights if there are important white areas being blown out, add a little fill light, darken the blacks a tad and the shadows a tad, and sharpen.

I gravitate toward warmer images so I usually will warm up the white balance, though not always. It's all dependent on the circumstance. I will reduce noise on dark indoor shots if necessary. That really is about all I do! Bright, clean, and natural is my goal!

I hope this little peek into my editing workflow has been helpful! And I like hearing what you all want to be reading about here on the blog, so if you have a suggestion, just let me know. :-)