I really really REALLY love the editing process. I didn’t think there was any way I could love anything as much as I love actually taking photographs, by alas, editing has captured my heart.
Isn’t it funny how there are whole worlds out there which we know nothing about? I have seen so many photographers out there who take excellent shots and I just can’t believe they haven’t put any effort into going the extra mile to make a great shot outstanding.
Of course, this is all just a matter of perspective as is any facet of the art world. I know there is a whole camp who say editing is evil and fair enough as far too many young ‘photographers’ don’t seem to think that mastering the art of actually capturing a photograph is of any importance since there is software to correct just about every mistake you can dream of making.
I’m not by any means saying that I am an expert in either situation but I am willing to stick my neck out there and say that personally, I think I’m pretty good and have come a long way extremely fast. Not to be funny or anything (Darren’s not paying me to say this!) I learned half of everything I know about photography and editing from this website! If you haven’t taken the hours necessary to just sit and soak up all of the information available on this site (for FREE, people!) then you are missing out on a potentially huge benefit to your photographic knowledge.
When you jump into the sea which is editing and begin scanning the ocean floor for pearls, it’s hard to come up for air. My oxygen tank is very big you might say! Imagine my level of excitement when I learned about layers! I know, I know this might seem painfully simple for some of you but for others who are just beginning their journey, you may have only just discovered this pearl as did I only a few months ago.
Last week, I went away with my family for a weekend in the countryside here in England. For an American city girl, the countryside here is far beyond anything I ever dreamed that I would live in (not to mention the castles in my own back yard!) so I jumped out of bed at 5am and snuck out to catch the sunrise. It was my first time ever photographing the sunrise since for the past 6 years, I have only been up before the sun to make bottles or change diapers! Here are two photos I ended up with which, to my surprise, look completely different thanks to the editing processes I have developed for myself.
Every time I look at this photo, I instinctively squint because the light is so bright and I hear my mom in my head saying, “Don’t look at the sun – you’ll go blind!”
1.} In Lightroom, I created about 5 copies of this photo before I began applying presets (right click and choose ‘create virtual copy’).
2.} To #1, I applied Rebecca Lily’s ‘Fresh Perspective’ preset. On 2, I used ‘Creme Retro’.
3.} In Photoshop, I layered the two images and blended using the ‘overlay’ mode. To layer, you literally drag one photo on top of the other and then resize it so they match. Then in the layers palette on the right, select from the drop down menu ‘overlay’. In the palette is a sliding bar to change the opacity which is basically just making the front image more ‘see through’ which will change the impact of the effect. There are many different modes here you could choose for a different effect. In the layers palette, right click on the background image and choose ‘make layer from background’. This takes your fixed background image and turns it into a layer so you can then change the order of your layers to decide which of the two images you want in the front.
4.} Although there is naturally a beautiful sunburst and flare from the sun shining through the trees, I just wanted to bump it up a tiny bit. On the top menu, choose ‘filter’ —> ‘render’ —> ‘lens flare’. Here, you can choose from a few different effects which naturally occur depending on the lens used and then you can change the brightness and, most importantly, the position of the burst. I clicked exactly in the middle of the natural sun burst and changed the brightness just a tad brighter than the natural one. Now when you click ok to finish and you watch it appear on your image, you will notice at different points in your image, flare will appear. These are the circles of light (some people call them orbs) that appear. I didn’t want this to happen because there was already some natural flare which I like and any more would just be cheesy.
So here is where I backtrack. Before I added the extra sunlight, I merged the two preset layers into one (right click on one of the layers in the layers palette and choose ‘flatten image’). Then, I right-clicked and chose ‘duplicate layer’. When I began the process of filter/render/flare, I did this on that top layer. When the orbs appeared after I clicked ‘ok’, I was then able to use the eraser tool to basically erase them away. But since there was a duplicate image layer under it, erasing the orbs just reveals the bottom layer. If there is too sharp a line around where you erased, you can either click undo and re-erase using a lower opacity eraser or just change the opacity of the whole top layer in the layers palette which also works nicely if you want to tone down the brightness of the added sunlight.
5.} Think that’s it? Think again! Once you I got the new sunburst sorted out, I again right clicked a layer and chose ‘flatten image’. Then I began my texture layers work. I opened the two textures I decided to use from Florabella Collection. I used the ‘tea stained’ overlay and ‘Elysium (cool)’ texture. I take quite a long time experimenting with different blend modes (I most often settle with either ‘overlay’ or ‘soft light’) and opacities. The ‘Elysium cool’ texture from this collection works so well with green landscapes because it really adds an extra punch and depth and I use it often.
6.} When displaying an image which uses warm or bright light, I really recommend acquiring your prints from a professional print house from which you can purchase prints on metallic paper. Metallic paper adds a really appealing glow and shimmer to any image but is especially effective for sunlit images. I am so happy with the finished product of this image.
A fellow photographer said of this photo that it “has the most beautiful citrus tones and the sunlight looks like lemon.”
You should recognize this as a crop of the first photo. This time, I edited it to be less warm and more fresh and juicy.
1.} As in the first image, my first step was to ‘vitual copy’ the image and apply different presets. ‘During 1’ is Rebecca Lily’s ‘Spring Haze’ and 2 is Matt Kloskowski’s ‘Lomo’ preset which is free!
2.} In Photoshop, I layered 1 over 2 and applied the soft light blend mode. I took the opacity down very low as you can see, the finished product looks almost exactly like the Lomo-only edit of ‘During 2’. It does make a difference when viewed larger, though.
3.} I cropped the sun out of the image because I wanted the focus to be on the light this time, not the sun itself. I applied Florabella’s ‘Tea Stained’ and ‘Elysium Cool’ as in image 1 and voila! The same photo and the same process but different presets produces two images with an entirely different mood.
This is basically the same process I use when editing an image. The main steps I take are to apply different presets to multiple copies of an image and then layer those images in different ways in Photoshop and then finish it off with some texture work. It sounds like a long process, but when you get your process down, you can churn out fantastic images at a surprising speed. Just gives me more time to get out there and take more photos!
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