Do you wonder how photos look to begin with--straight out of the camera, as they say--and what has been done to them in Photoshop before they are presented as a final product? This is something I enjoy learning about, and I thought maybe you'd be interested in some of my editing choices. I'm no expert when it comes to Photoshop, but it's something I use on a daily basis and I have practiced and researched different editing techniques for years. My style has evolved (often with the trends, I admit), and lately I've become a bit more heavy-handed with different effects, which you may or may not like. (I'm still fairly conservative, though.) There are a million ways to edit a photo, but here's what I came up with this time.
Instead of one of my own pictures, I'm starting this possible series with a photo taken by my friend Carol. She had mentioned taking photos of her daughters, but was not sure about editing them. I offered to edit her favorite, and then she said I could share the process here with you! Thanks again, Carol!
Now, I'm going to speak a bit of Photoshopese here, so if some doesn't make sense, you can ask or just Google it. ;) Sometime I may explain actions and different tools in their own post, but I'm just going to assume you have some basic knowledge (or don't care either way) and be as concise as possible. (Too late.)
Here's the original photo. It's an adorable picture of her girls with natural expressions and great dresses. I love the color! The composition is good and the lighting is even on their faces. That gives us a good base to work with.
The problem areas I saw with the photo were mainly the color, brightness, and the background. I didn't spend a lot of time meticulously fixing this, but I did a few quick edits that polished it up.
The basic edits resulted in the above image. Here's what I did:
1. The background seemed distracting to me with the uneven colors. I try to avoid fake-blurring the background (I'd rather that be naturally done in-camera), but I was able to use the clone tool to fill in some grass on the left side and get rid of much of the sunny patch so it was less of a distraction. This is a step that could take hours if you want to be all perfect about it, but that sounds totally unfun, so I did it in a few minutes. My motto when it comes to completing tedious tasks: Good enough.
2. To adjust the color, I ran Clean Slate Foundation, which is a Photoshop action created by Greater Than Gatsby. I downloaded it free awhile back, and I've been loving it! It basically adjusts the coloring, sharpens the photo and does a few other fancy tricks to enhance portraits. I find it sometimes makes the photo a little too red, but it has a bunch of layers that you can go and adjust individually. I will often run the action and then go back and adjust curves, etc. I am thinking that on this particular photo, though, I didn't have to do any adjustments. It really helped the skintones and brightness!
While that first set of basic edits was just fine, I was curious about taking it a step further. Lately the trend is to give photos a sort of washed-out, warm, vintagey appearance. There are a lot of interpretations of that, but in this case I went with a mild dose found in one of my current favorite actions: Butterfly Cream by lieveheersbeestje. Sorry, I can't find a direct link to the action itself, but it was another freebie that I've been loving mostly for floral photos. However, it worked for this too, once I toned it down a little. You can adjust the strength of actions, and I believe I had to reduce this a bit.
So that's it! Basically I let other people's actions do the work for me.
I made a black and white version, as well, but now I can't remember which method I used.
Was that insightful at all, or just confusing? Even if you're not interested in editing photos, sometimes it's still fun to see before-and-afters on pictures. I'd be interested in doing more of these posts with your photos. Or if you are curious about one of my photos, just ask! If you have a photo you'd like me to edit, send me the original (totally unedited, if possible) and I'll see what I can do. Most of you have my email, but you can comment or find me on Instagram, if not. I'm afraid to put it here for spamsie reasons.