How to edit your photos like a pro
By Cullen Chan, Contributor
When it comes to editing pictures there are so many different approaches that people can take, but I’ll give you my approach on how I tackle such a daunting task. I think the first thing that comes to mind before you start editing is to make sure that you take a solid photograph first.
Make sure you are comfortable with your settings so that your photo is focused, framed properly and lit well. If you do not have a solid foundation to work with, sometimes there are too many mistakes that you cannot fix through editing.
In my first year at Mount Royal University, I took a photography class. My professor was super helpful in teaching us how to take great photos which made it extremely easy to edit after, so here are a few editing tips that I want to share with you.
What programs I edit with
From my experience as a photographer, and by noting what others do, the most used programs that I see are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Both are excellent image editing software programs. I’d say the main difference is that Adobe Lightroom is able to handle a larger number of shots in bulk. So, if you’re editing 1,000 photographs from a wedding, then I would recommend using Adobe Lightroom for sure.
Adobe Photoshop is nice when you’re looking at editing fewer pictures, you can really focus on a single shot that you took and do a lot of different upgrades to it. One cool tool on Adobe Photoshop that Adobe Lightroom does not have is the Content-Aware Fill. Have you ever seen a picture where there’s just a single person next to something like the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Probably not. One way to achieve this is using the content-aware fill application.
Let’s say there are five people around you in the photo and you don’t want them to be there. Starting with the Lasso or Quick Selection tool, you are able to trace around them. Once you’ve done that you can use the Content-Aware Fill function, the editing software is so smart that it can match the background setting to make it look like no one was even there. So, if someone was a couple of feet behind you in the grass, you could trace over them and use the Content-Aware Fill and it wouldn’t even look like they were there! This tool doesn’t always work right, but I’ve always found it helpful and use it on a lot of the photographs that I take.
What program I prefer
I mainly use Adobe Photoshop because it is how I first learned to edit photos. With my Canon EOS Rebel T6i, which is a digital camera, I have different size setting options to shoot my photos in. For taking pictures and editing afterwards, I set my camera to the RAW setting. When I transfer my pictures to my laptop and then to Adobe Photoshop, the program has a specific layout and popup menu for photos taken in RAW. I find these features super helpful and the program has everything I need to change the look of a photo to my liking.
I’d say the main aspects I change in the camera RAW menu are white balance, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, and clarity. I don’t know if I’m the only person who does this, but essentially I just play around with the slider settings, which allow you to change all the settings I mentioned and make them adjustable. If you’re new to editing, try moving the slider from one side to the other to really see the difference it can make on a photo. Once you’ve seen the difference, try to find an in-between on the slider so that it’s to your liking. A lot of editing depends on the preference of the editor.
I also want to note that to use either Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom you need to pay a monthly subscription fee. I did some looking around and found a website called befunky.com, it might not have as many options and features as the paid photo editing software programs, but it does have the basics like vibrance, color, clarity and exposure.
Put your new editing skills to practice
Now that fall is here, Thanksgiving is right around the corner! If you enjoy food as much as I do then you’ll probably take a nice photo of your Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure you have some good lighting and an aesthetically pleasing dining set to make that turkey look like a rock star! I’d say adding more saturation and vibrancy to food photographs is a good idea when editing. It makes the food look more appetizing, a tip companies often use in commercials. Editing is always in the eye of the individual. Don’t be afraid to play with the settings and find what you like personally.