You’ve taken some great shots and now you’re ready to make them even better. As any pro photographer will tell you, editing your photos is just as important as capturing them. A few simple tweaks can turn a mediocre photo into something magical. Whether you’re using an expensive editing suite or just the tools on your phone, the key is knowing which edits will have the biggest impact. Here are 10 essential photo editing tips to make your pics pop. With a few clicks you’ll be producing photos so stunning your friends will swear you’ve gone pro. But we’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s all in the editing.
Shoot in RAW Format
Shooting in RAW format is one of the best habits you can develop as a photographer. RAW files give you way more control and flexibility over your images versus JPEGs.
- RAW files contain unprocessed data from your camera’s image sensor. This means you have more latitude for adjusting exposure, white balance, and color. With JPEGs, the camera processes the image for you, so you’re stuck with its rendering.
- You have more options for correcting issues like over or under exposure. Blown out highlights and shadow details are often recoverable from RAW files. This can save shots that would otherwise be unusable.
- RAW files give you a digital negative to work from. You can adjust the image processing repeatedly without degrading the quality. Make one version in color, another in black and white, and another with an artistic filter – all from the same RAW file.
- Storage is cheap these days, so don’t worry about the larger file sizes. RAW files take up more space but give you images you can use for years to come.
- Most major editing tools like Lightroom and Photoshop work with RAW files. The extra effort up front will pay off when you have more creative freedom in post-production.
Shooting in RAW does mean extra work, but that work is worth it for any serious photographer. Make it a habit to always capture in RAW and your images will never be limited by the constraints of a JPEG again. The creative possibilities are endless!
Adjust Exposure and Contrast
Once you’ve imported your photos into your editing software of choice, it’s time to make some basic adjustments to exposure and contrast. These tweaks can make a huge difference in the overall quality and impact of your images.
To start, check the histogram to see if your photo is over or under exposed. An overexposed photo will have the graph pushed to the right, indicating too much light. Underexposed means the graph is pushed to the left, showing not enough light. Use the exposure slider to correct this. Move it right to brighten an underexposed shot or left to darken an overexposed one.
Next, adjust the contrast which controls the difference between the dark and light areas of your photo. Increase the contrast to make shadows darker and highlights brighter, which often results in a more dramatic, eye-catching image. Decrease contrast for a softer, more subtle look. For most photos, a slight contrast boost of +10 to +30 works well.
You can also adjust the highlights and shadows individually. Pull the highlights slider left to darken bright areas like the sky. Move the shadows slider right to illuminate dark spots. This allows you to balance the light in your photo without changing the overall exposure.
A few small tweaks to exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows can enhance depth, emphasize your subject, and make your photos pop. Play around with these settings and don’t be afraid to make big changes – you can always undo them! With regular practice, your ability to adjust and enhance lighting will become second nature.
Correct Color Balance
One of the most important editing techniques is correcting the color balance in your photos. The colors in your images can be affected by the lighting conditions when you shot the photo, as well as the white balance setting on your camera. Here are some tips to improve color balance during editing:
Adjust white balance
If the colors in your photo have an unwanted warm or cool tint, you may need to adjust the white balance. Using the white balance tool, select a neutral gray area in your photo. The software will then adjust the overall color balance to neutralize that area. You may need to tweak the settings to get the most natural look.
Use color correction tools
Most photo editing programs offer color correction tools to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and specific color channels like red, green and blue. Make subtle changes to one setting at a time. For example, increase the saturation to make dull colors more vibrant or decrease the blue channel to reduce a yellow tint.
Apply color filters
Color filter effects, like warming and cooling filters, can help balance the tones in your photo. A warming filter will enhance yellow and red tones, while a cooling filter emphasizes blues. Start with a low intensity and build up to avoid overpowering the original colors in your photo.
Check color accuracy
It’s easy for your eyes to get used to the colors in your photo, making it difficult to determine color accuracy. Take a break and look at your photo with fresh eyes. You can also compare the colors in your photo to real-world objects or other reference photos to make sure they look natural. Get a second opinion from another photographer as well.
With some practice, color correcting your photos can become second nature. Subtle changes are best, so take it slow and make one adjustment at a time. Keep an eye on how the overall color balance is improving and remember – a natural look is usually the most appealing!
Fix Imperfections With Spot Removal
One of the most useful photo editing tools is the spot removal tool. This allows you to remove imperfections like blemishes, spots, or other unwanted marks in your photo.
Identify the imperfections
Scan your photo and locate any spots, blemishes, or other imperfections you want to remove. Zoom in to get a close-up view so you can see the details. Look for things like pimples, scars, dirt on the lens, or debris.
Select the spot removal tool
In your photo editing software, select the spot removal tool, also known as the clone stamp tool. This tool will allow you to paint over the imperfections by sampling from another area of the photo.
Choose your brush size
Select a brush size that is slightly larger than the imperfection you want to remove. If the spot is small, choose a small brush. For larger areas, use a bigger brush. You can adjust the brush size as needed.
Pick a source point
Find a source point near the imperfection that has a similar color and texture. The source point should be as close as possible to the area you want to fix for the most natural result. Hold down the Alt/Option key and click to select your source point.
Paint over the imperfection
With your source point selected, paint over the imperfection using small strokes. Repeat this until the spot is covered. Release the Alt/Option key and continue painting to blend the fixed area in with the surrounding skin or surface.
Check your work
Zoom out to view the entire photo and check that the fixed area looks natural. Make any additional touch-ups needed. With some practice, you’ll be expertly removing spots and blemishes from your photos in no time!
Get Creative With Filters and Effects
Once you have the basics of editing down, it’s time to get creative with filters and effects. Filters and effects can transform your photos in artistic and whimsical ways. Here are a few tips for using them:
Play Around With Different Filters
Most photo editing apps and software offer a range of filters that can change the overall tone or mood of your photo. Try out different filters like black and white, sepia, vintage, retro, etc. See which ones you like best for the particular photo. You can also adjust the intensity of the filters to make the effect more or less dramatic.
Add Fun Effects
Effects like lens flares, light leaks, double exposure, and bokeh can make your photos pop. But use them sparingly—you don’t want your photos to look gimmicky. Subtle, tasteful effects work best. You can also reduce the opacity of effects to make them more faint and natural-looking.
Create Your Own Presets
Once you find a combination of filters, effects, adjustments, and edits you like, save them as a preset to easily apply the same style to other photos. Most photo editing tools allow you to create and save your own presets. This can save you a lot of time and ensure consistency across your photos.
Blend Multiple Filters and Effects
Don’t be afraid to blend multiple filters, effects, and adjustments together. Start with a filter as your base, then add different effects like a vignette, texture, or lens flare. Reduce the opacity or intensity and make further tweaks to create a unique style. Blending and layering filters and effects opens up a world of possibilities.
Consider Your Subject and Mood
Think about your photo’s subject and the overall mood you want to convey. Some filters and effects work better for certain subjects, styles, and moods. For example, a vintage filter pairs well with a retro subject. A dark, moody filter suits a foggy landscape. Choose filters and effects that enhance your photo rather than detract from it.
With some experimentation, you’ll be creating eye-catching edits in no time. Have fun with it and let your creativity shine through! Filters and effects are a great way to make your photos stand out.
So there you have it, 10 photo editing tips to take your photography to the next level. With a few simple adjustments you can transform your snapshots into professional-looking images that dazzle the viewer. The best part is, you don’t need fancy software or expensive equipment to make a big impact. All you need is an eye for detail and the willingness to experiment. Now get out there and start editing – your photos will thank you, and so will your audience! With regular practice, these techniques will become second nature and you’ll be producing gallery-worthy photos in no time. What are you waiting for? Open up that photo editor and get to work! The world is waiting to see your creations.