I am putting another ‘before and after’ up on the blog today. This time it is a landscape of Mount Painter. And yes, before you even start, I know that you are probably already looking at the two images and going: ‘Way too much editing!’
When I sat back and compared the SOOC (Straight out of camera) with the final version, I thought so too.
Keep in mind though that my editing is a gradual process (as you will see later in the post), and that by the time the final image appeared I hadn’t seen the original in a while!
Critizing a photographer’s editing style is a little like criticizing someone else’s parenting . It can be a very touchy subject. I am not precious about it and am keen to learn from my mistakes and from other’s wisdom- if the wisdom is constructive. I think it is safe to say that a lot, if not most photographers and Instagram-ers end up finding a niche that works for them and defines their style. On occasion I have tried to mix it up and change my style of editing but I keep coming back to the same look. The way my pictures are is how I edit, how I see things. While my editing process evolves and hopefully improves all the time; the style is constant. A couple of friends have been asked why I edit my photos. There are three reasons really why.
1. As a semi-professional photographer, posting unedited landscapes or portraits would be detrimental to my brand, unless I make it clear it is a happy-snap. The edited image is part of the difference, part of the magic between happy snaps and professional photography that people want on their wall.
2. The time of day (that stunning golden hour) that I photograph requires me to edit my images, as inevitably, either the sky or the subject (human or landscape) will get washed-out or underexposed and needs to be brought back to how my eye saw it.
3. It’s fun! I absolutely revel in the editing process. Bringing back to the unedited washed-out image, that raw beauty my eyes saw and my senses remembered is a joy.
For any who are interested, I thought I would share with you the basics of my editing process for landscape panoramas. Whilst I have read and watched lots of YouTube tutorials on portrait editing, I have never researched anyone else’s landscape editing. How I do it is unique to me and probably not at all streamlined.
Pretty much each time I take a panorama, I:
- take a series of 3- 8 photos of my chosen scene generally moving left to right from the same spot, keeping as steady as I can. I try to overlap at least a third of the previous part of the picture in the next one.
- upload the RAW images into Lightroom and quickly colour correct and lighten or darken there.
- merge the images into a Panorama in Photoshop
- look at the image and loathe it for between 1-4 days. This is the stage where I cannot bear to look at it let alone work on it. The hatred stage happens nearly every shoot I do, not just panoramas. Is that strange?
- give the merged panorama a HDR (High Dynamic Range) facial
- upload the image into Photoshop and then I turn it into the scene I remember
- Michelle-ify the image (add those last touches)