What is my editing process?
1/03/2018- Tips and Articles – by Lucas Kraus
When it comes to wedding photography, or even photography in general, capturing the image is only 50 percent of the work. The other 50 percent comes down to the editing process.
So, if I were to photograph a 10 hour wedding, it would take me approximately another 10 hours (or maybe more) to edit your photos and create your album. This is one of the reasons why your edited photos take up to 4 weeks to be delivered, and why wedding photographers charge so much. I have a lot of clients ask me “how do you edit your photos” so I thought I would write a blog post about it.
Overall I keep things pretty natural, and tend not to use any crazy filters or techniques. I keep the colours as natural as I can and don’t do to much in the way of Curves.
So lets analyse the before and after photograph below. As you can see, the bottom one obviously looks better. But why?
White Balance or “Temperature”
First up, I correct the white balance, otherwise known as the photos “temperature”. The temperature is basically the colour of light for a particular scenario. Every lighting situation has it’s own temperature, from inside a church which is usually very “warm” due to the orange lights that are used, to under a tree in the shade which is usually “cool”.
Temperature is measured in Kelvins or (K). Why is it called Kelvins? I actually have no idea, but lets keep moving. Cameras today are very efficient at using auto white balance, which means that the camera will make up its own mind as to what temperature it thinks a particular lighting situation. However it is not perfect. See how the “before” photo is slightly green, this is the cameras decision on white balance.
When editing, it is my job to correct the cameras decision on white balance so the photo looks aesthetically pleasing. There is no right or wrong temperature, however if it is not done correctly it is obvious to the person viewing the photograph. Choosing the right temperature does take some practice and patience. The photographers own style also comes into play when changing the white balance.
Below is an example of the white balance not being done correctly in the editing process.
Curves and exposure
The exposure of the photograph is simply the brightness or darkness. It is important to change the exposure in editing to make sure all the detail is visible and so it is asthestically pleasing. Most wedding photographers use Manual settings on their camera, which means they have to change certain settings to allow the right amount of light in when taking the photograph.
I personally hate allowing the camera to choose its own exposure as it can vary greatly and has trouble in high contrast settings. Photographers also want full control as to the shutter speed, Aperture and light sensitivity (ISO). Allowing the camera to choose its own exposure can drastically change one of these settings and can potentially ruin a photograph. Getting the exposure right in camera (especially at a wedding) can take years of practice.
The Curves is how light the lights are, and how dark the darks are. Each wedding photographer will have their own style when it comes to the curves, and can be somewhat of a trademark of a well known photographer. Some photographers may go for a more cinematic look, where they “Crush the blacks” and others may go for a dramatic look where the darks are very dark.
Me? I like to keep the Curves pretty natural and adjust the contrast slightly. I do have a unique aspect to my editing however, in that I adjust the RGB (Red/Green/Blue) Curves. I won’t go into detail here as I like to keep some secrets! 🙂
Below is an example of the the curves being to drastic, resulting in an unnatural looking photograph.
Clarity, Sharpening and Noise Reduction
Would you believe that cameras today, are sometimes too sharp and clear? The clarity, sharpness and noise reduction are all something each photographer edits in post. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this, it just depends on what the photographer thinks looks best.
Personally, I like to reduce the clarity and sharpness a little bit to give the photograph a softer feel and increase the noise reduction to make the photo feel smoother.
It might be a little bit hard to see, but below is an example of the photograph being over-sharpened.
Croping and Vignette
So cropping is pretty straight forward. I basically just correct the level or the horizon and might crop out some unwanted objects or people. I am not fan of tilted horizons (it is actually one of my pet hates).
Vignetting is the black (or white) border that you see at the edges of the photograph. You might look at the photograph above and think, what border? That is because I only give each of my photographs a slight vignette. It is a good way to soften the photograph a little bit and keep focus on the subject, but in general I don’t use much of a vignette. Another one of my pet hates is strong black or white vignette around a photograph, because to me it is not natural.
Below is an example of the photograph using to much vignette.
Removing objects, acne, scars and blemishes.
Removing objects and blemishes can be very time consuming. I try to crop out unwanted objects in camera, but I do often remove the ugly objects such as bins, microphone laying on the ground or people in the editing process. I have actually removed entire cars and trucks from an image. It took around 3 hours for one photograph. I committed to this because it was an amazing photograph underneath the harbour bridge.
When it comes to removing pimples, acne, scars and blemishes then please talk to me about this personally. It would take months and months to remove pimples from every photograph you receive, but I am usually happy to do it for important photographs such as bridal portraits, family photos, bride and groom photos. I also can do a light skin smoothing which will in effect, smooth out your skin and soften any blemishes. This is not common, as makeup is generally very good at doing this.
Digital weight loss (i.e. making you look thinner in photoshop) on the other hand, is a different ball game. I try to nail my posing to get your best angle, but if you want a photographer to make you look skinnier in photoshop then you might have a hard time finding one. It is extremely difficult. Although I am quite proficient at using photoshop, I would struggle to make it look natural. I have however, slimmed down arms on request. This is a little bit simpler, and it if is something you are looking for then please talk to me personally.
As you can see from the photos above, there are many ways to ruin a good photograph with bad editing. Editing can take years to master, and although it is paramount in creating a good images, it is not glamorous. You spend hours in front of your computer obsessing over minor details and getting frustrated at your computer for being so slow.
If you have anymore questions regarding my editing process, then please send me an email through out Contact Page.
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Thanks for this! I found your information very helpful.
Just starting out so need to find out all I can.