004 How To Edit Your Blog Photos | A Before And After
Back again with another post in my Photography Series. Now you know how to use your posh camera properly, this week I thought I would talk you through the way I edit my photographs. This really can make all the difference between a good photo and a bad photo. This is a really simple, nice and easy step by step retouch and hopefully you too can implement these steps into your own way of editing. Now I use Adobe Photoshop to edit my photos but I think there could be similar programs such as Lightroom which may have similar tools too, but don’t quote me on that as I am not familiar with this software.
If you already know the basics of editing then you may want to skip this post, and wait for next week. Next week I will be talking about Photoshop in much more thorough detail, discussing every single tool I use and what exactly it is. Not just in terms of photo editing, but bulk resizing your photos using action tools, and also creating collages in one image which you can then upload to Pinterest. I will show you how to use layers properly and how to really make the most of this piece of awesome software. I have used Photoshop for nearly 10 years now and I still learn new things all the time, but I figured it was about time I started passing on the little bits I know.
Anyway, I digress. Let’s get stuck into How To Edit Your Blog Photos shall we?
So I open up my original image. I used to edit straight from the .jpeg format but I have now started editing from the RAW file .cr2. Once this is open the first thing I do is create a duplicate layer. The quickest way to do this is if you drag the Background layer down onto the New Layer icon – I will discuss layers in more detail next week so just bare with me. The long way around, click Layer from the menu across the top and select Duplicate Layer. This will bring up a box saying Background Copy. Click OK.
Why are we creating a duplicate layer? This is the best tip Scott ever taught me. It means if you make a mistake during editing, you never ruin the original layer. So you can always just bin the duplicate layer and start again. I sometimes make a few duplicate layers depending on how complicated the edit is.
Out of habit, this is the first thing I always play around with. Curves. It is a quick way of messing around with the exposure and depth of the image, without using the Brightness / Contrast tool. Head to Image > Adjustments > Curves. I usually am lazy and click Auto and let Photoshop do the magic. Sometimes, the difference is far too drastic and I will manually adjust the curves. If i am still not “feeling it” I will then just leave the Curves altogether and play around with the Brightness and Contrast until I am happy (Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast).
Image > Adjustments > Levels. With this tool you can adjust how bright the image is in different parts of the photograph. I tend to just play with the middle and right arrows. I will adjust them by clicking on the arrow and dragging it over to the left to brighten the image, and back over to the right to cast more shadow. You will understand what I mean when you have a play around with it. As you can see in the images below I brightened my photo further by moving the levels across to the left.
The Sharpen tool is another that can make such a big difference to your photographs, especially if you want to draw attention to text and logos. You can find this tool down in the left hand side menu – circled below – it looks like a little triangle. I will select this at about 50% so not too intense, and take it over any text, any logos, or areas that I wish to bring into more focus.
Ah I love this bit. Playing with colour is definitely one of my favourite parts of editing, perhaps this is because I am a make-up artist and that is just a natural love of mine. Image > Adjustments > Selective Colour. In the drop down box next to Colours will be all the basic colours, so Red, Cyan, Blue, Green and so on. I always play with Black first to add more depth to my image, and to bring out any small details such as text. I will then play with the White tool and decrease the percentage to further brighten my image and sharpen any white areas. Once these two colours are done and I am happy I will study the photo and look at what the other key colours are. So for this particular set Yellow and Green are prominent colours. So to make the most of these colours I will pull them up in Selective Colour.
Dodge and Burn.
These two chaps are probably the first ever tools I learnt to use in Photoshop. Back in college I would watch my friend Katherine add shadow and light to her illustrations using these two tools. It was amazing to see her work come to life and I have never forgotten the importance of these tools. Dodge you use to accentuate any areas of light, a bit like strobing but in editing terms. Take your tool and wash it over areas that need highlighting. So sun beams, areas that have caught the light and bounced it off. Burn does the opposite, it accentuates the shadows. Depending on your lighting, you might have lost a bit of depth to your products within the image, and just by adding in that shadow again will bring your products back to life. Have a play around with it and you will soon learn what I mean.
So when your images look too yellow or too cool, do not panic, you can adjust this quite simply. Image > Adjustments > Colour Balance. To decrease the yellow tones across your image pull the arrow from Yellow over to Blue. I also tend to pull the arrow across from Red over to Cyan too. This makes everything look a lot cleaner, and the tones more even.
You can also use the colour balance to add more character and depth to the image. Maybe you want to give it a mood? I sometimes purposely add in a blue or pink filter using colour balance depending on what I am going for for that particular set of images.
Last but not least, I will then crop my image until I am happy with the product positioning within the shot. You can even prepare your images for Instagram using the 1:1 crop just like you would on your phones.
And that is it guys. A very quick and easy edit. Some of you may be thinking, wow that is a long edit, but for me, I do like to spend a bit more time than normal at this stage as to me my photography is what makes this blog stand out a little. You don’t necessarily have to use all these tools but they do indeed make a big difference over all.
Did you learn anything new? Is there anything you are dying to ask me ? Please feel free to pop your Photoshop related questions below so I can try and answer them in next week’s post.
I hope this post helped a few of you and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me. Just in case you missed the first two parts of my series, check them out here: