I get a lot of questions about my camera and the settings I use. I thought it would be fun to make a list of 10 things I’ve learned along the way to get better pictures.
Editing pictures has just become part of my picture-taking routine. Anything I post here on the blog or on flickr and even Facebook has some editing to them. Unless of course the pictures are coming from my iphone! I don’t edit every picture I take. I generally look through my pictures and edit the ones I like, the ones with potential to be better. I noticed that people started to ask me more about my pictures and my camera after I started posting edited pictures. Sometimes a little editing just puts that extra kick into a photo.
Here are my 10 tips for editing pictures:
- Pick the program you are going to use to edit your pictures. I use Adobe Lightroom. Photoshop is great. And of course there are lots of free online photo editing software. I was a fan of Picnik to add text and make collages but Picnik closed it’s doors last week (I was bummed). So I am still on a search to see what online photo editing software I like. So far I am liking PicMonkey, but there is also Picasa, and Aviary …and a ton more. I don’t use these online programs to actually enhance my pictures. I use them more for fun fonts and collages and such. But you could… which goes to my next point.
- Keep repeating. Less is more. Less is more. When you open up photo editing software. I have fell victim to all the cool effects (and still do). Sure its fun to try them. But I personally like more natural pictures. There are some pictures I go back and look at now and think “What the hell was I thinking!”
- The best bet is try to get the best picture you can straight out of the camera. Use photo editing to put an extra kick in your pictures or to fix something that you might have forgotten while trying to take the pictures (like white balance, or over/under exposure).
- I mostly shoot in JPEG – however, in my most recent photo shoots I have been shooting in RAW. I have noticed the pictures look better in RAW. However, they are HUGE files – so if I am just doing every day snap shots around the house, I will most likely continue to shoot in JPEG. If I am going for something I can frame and put on my wall – I will probably shoot in RAW.
- Because I use Lightroom to edit my pictures my next points will be regarding that program specifically. And this is just what I personally do to edit my pictures. Like anything, I think you got to play around and find out what works for you. You can find Lightroom tutorials here.
- I always first Auto Tone my pictures. If there isn’t much difference after I hit Auto Tone – then I figure I must have had my settings on my camera set well! Or maybe its just making up the difference of something my camera (or myself) was lacking. I sometimes up the exposure here as well – just because I tend to like my pics a bit on the lighter side.
- I don’t adjust the white balance most times. Unless the picture is looking really blue or really yellow – I might play with the settings a bit. But I don’t like to adjust the White Balance to Auto in Lightroom – I think most of the time it makes my pictures look funny. Personal preference.
- Using the presets in Lightroom I usually select “Punch” to my photos…this raises the clarity and the vibrancy up just a bit. You could just adjust these a bit by yourself and not use the preset.
- Again using the presets in Lightroom I sometimes select “Tone Curve – Medium Contrast”. Sometimes I don’t… just depends what I am looking for on the picture.
- And finally I might adjust the Luminance to reduce some of the noise in the picture if I used a high ISO. I also sometimes – change the picture to black and white – depending on what I am looking for.
- Bonus TIP : I might also crop the photo… again it just depends. If I do, I try to follow the Rule of Thirds.
Editing is really just preference and style. I think just playing with a program and figuring out what it does. The fun part is finding out what your style is and trying new things.
So here are some pictures I took tonight – out in the yard with the kids. A lot of it is just tweaking the photo until I get something that looks good to me.
I moved the exposure up a little bit more and then used the Luminance tool slightly to remove some of the noise. Not the best picture really… but that is ok, I just wanted to show how I can lighten a picture up really easy. This works a lot better shooting in RAW (I shot in jpeg tonight)
A little lighter again and Luminance to get rid of some noise…. In looking back at this picture I liked it better before I use the Tone Curve tool. Sometimes I go back and re-do it, and other times I just move on. I like Lightroom because you can easily just hit the reset button and it takes you back to the original picture.
Have fun editing!