Making photographs, not just taking them – Dundee, Tayside, Scotland

The value of post editing

I have always understood that most, if not all, of the great photographs out there, the ones that really make you stop and stare or say wow, did not look like that when they were taken.  There is always some level of editing involved either in Photoshop or some other software used in the digital age, meaning anything from simply cropping, editing the exposure, white balance etc through to adding layers and masks etc.  I just didn’t understand how even the basic editing can make such a difference to an image.

Recently I have learnt that particularly through one shot I took back in summer of a boat on the banks of Loch Ard in the Trossachs.  It was an image I was reasonably happy with (given the fact that I’m still a novice using kit lenses), so much so I actually posted it on 500px.com, a site I try to only post my very best shots to.  However, after spending some time on 500px.com I managed to come across another shot taken by someone else of the exact same boat on the same loch (Loch Ard, inner landscape by David Mould ).  Sadly this made it blinding clear that my shot wasn’t nearly as good as I had first thought and highlighted that I have some way to go before I can class myself as a decent landscape photographer.

Now that I have changed by post shoot procedures so that I only shoot RAW and every image is imported via LightRoom (importing via LightRoom removes the need to shoot in JPG and RAW mode) I have discovered how easy it is to do the simplest of editing.  Rather than viewing the JPG images, finding ones that I think justifies the time to open the equivalent RAW file in PhotoShop, editing and then saving as a JPG file I now view all the RAW files within LightRoom, simply edit away without leaving that application and when I export the image will save as a nice usable JPG. (Note – LightRoom cannot do everything that Photoshop can but there is a handy feature within LightRoom where images can be opened in Photoshop for more complicated editing before being saved back to LightRoom)

Using this method I have gone back to the original image I posted to 500px.com (which was not edited at all) and have done a couple of minutes of simple editing like adjusting saturation etc and I have to say the results are impressive.

Here is the original image:

And here it is again after some editing:

With my eyes truly having been opened to what a difference can be made to an image and how easy/efficiently it can be done I have now made it standard practice to at least play with the basics on all images that I take and want to keep.  Now I just have to figure out how to do the more complicated editing such as layers, masks, etc.  Maybe this image will be the perfect test case to continue using and practicing on only time will tell.

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