"Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gizmos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel." -Peter Adams
Editing, the thing that can capture my attention sometimes for 12-14 hours a day. We have a sincere love/hate relationship, and like my photography skills, it gets better with time. I want to share a little bit about editing with you and get you started towards your own rocky relationship with the wonderful world of digital photography editing.
1. Shooting in RAW.
RAW is exactly that, a raw image file that captures more information than a jpg file which many of you are used to shooting in. There is a setting on your dslr camera to change this to RAW. Do it now. Smileyface. This is the most valuable thing you can do for your photos right now. When you shoot in a jpg format, you are allowing the camera to decide how your photo will look. When you shoot in RAW the camera is gathering all of the information from the camera sensor when you click the shutter and it gives you the ability to edit your photos for correct exposure, white balance, and a wealth of other things that you will not be able to do when you shoot jpg. A RAW image is like a film negative, it is the negative of your digital image. If you are not sure what format you are shooting in, ask yourself, when you upload your photos to your computer, and look at the image file number, is there a jpg on the end of the file? Read your camera manual (the best advice EVER) to see how you can change your settings to RAW. Keep in mind that when you do this you may have to switch to a larger memory card and your computer memory will fill up quicker because you will be working with larger files in RAW. The other benefit to shooting in RAW is that printing large images without shooting in RAW can be a huge mistake. If you want high quality enlargements, shoot in RAW. It will give you the capability to change the file size to where you need it to be for the size of the print you are making. If you are looking to upgrade your photography skills and get more clarity in your photos, begin shooting in RAW and immediately you will see a difference in your photos.
Please, please, please, back up your work. You may be thinking, jeesh Brooke, what does this have to do with editing? It is imperative that you back up your work. Some photographers use external drives, others use clouds that store their files. There is a program called DropBox that you can access on the internet from anywhere and I often use it to send clients their files. You have to decide what works best for you. The process I use is to upload all of my RAW images to my computer, I immediately back them up onto two different external hard drives, and then I begin editing. When I have a project complete I again back up my images to the external hard drives. If you are reading this blog, then you are serious enough about photography that you love what you do even if it is a hobby and you cherish your photos. So back them up!
3. Editing Software.
There are hundreds of different editing software available. In my opinion, one is not better than the other, they all serve a purpose in some way. For those of you that want to try editing for the first time, there are free programs that you can try and are actually a lot of fun. There is Picasa, where you can also store your files. This can be a great tool if you want to easily access your files and are not using more than one software program to edit. The more popular software programs that are more advanced than Picasa include Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Elements, and another more advanced one is Capture One. Again, they all have different tools and they all have a trial that you can download to see if you like the program. My advice would be to download the trial and really spend time with it to see if you like it.
Ok, down to the nitty gritty. Editing is a very vast subject. Simple editing would include, uploading your images to a program and doing minor color, exposure and white balance correction. Many of you have expressed interest in editing tips. I will continue to get more extensive with you through future blog posts, but this blog is a great way to get you started. You can see by the three photos here that editing your photos can go a long way. The first photo is the RAW image. I shot this on a windy summer day in Minnesota. There was an over cast and I did not use a reflector or a flash. You just never know how a horse will respond to equipment and I knew that I would edit these with more of a matte finish than vibrant and colorful. The second photo I edited using Photoshop Lightroom. I love, love, love this program right now. Although I usually begin editing my photos with it, there are some tools that I need that are easier for me to do in Photoshop Elements. The third photo is the final edit and I finished it in Photoshop Elements. Lots of work? Yes. This is part of what your clients are paying for. As you start to play with your new editing software, you will find a rhythm, a way of editing that you really like. Be creative and take risks here. You are an artist and it is your vision. My cousin takes beautiful landscape photos from everywhere she travels and I am so excited to see the outcome of her creativity through editing. Photoshop Elements has a beginner tool that will allow you to easily change your photo to black and white, remove blemishes, play with contrast, among other tools. This is a great way to learn the program and switch over to the expert tool once in awhile as your comfort level increases. My advice for editing is to play with a program, download the trial, play with a couple photos and I will teach you a few tools in the near future. Stay tuned!