I’ve had a few people ask me about editing lately, so I thought I would do something a little different today and do a step-by-step look into my editing process. Since I always enjoy looking at how others achieve effects in photos, I might make this a semi-regular feature. What do you think?
For fun, we’ll use a shot of Relient K. This is the original RAW file, just cropped down. Absolutely no adjustments were made:
I always shoot in RAW, so the first thing I do is open the photo in Adobe Camera RAW (however, if you’re a Nikon user, I’ve heard that their software produces better results than ACR).
I shoot in the auto white balance mode, so I start off by adjusting the white balance. I couldn’t find an obvious white-point, so I used the subject’s hand to get me in the right ballpark, and then manually fine-tuned the tone.
After that, I increased the exposure by .8, added a bit of fill light so the slider read 8, increased the blacks by 6 (I always make sure there is a definite black in my photos), and nudged the contrast and clarity sliders just a little.
It looks so much better already:
I then opened the photo in Photoshop. I still thought the image was slightly too red, so I opened the color balance tool, and moved the red/cyan slider to -21. I also thought that the detail was a little too dark in the image overall, so in the curves window, I bumped the upper right side up a bit (the highlights).
If my subject is in the center of the frame, I’ll often add a slight bit of vignetting to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject (to do this, open the filter menu, select “lens correction” and then move the vignette slider to the left), but this isn’t really necessary.
A little bit of LAB sharpening (see a tutorial here), and a crop, and the application of my action to apply my logo, and I was done.
Despite this long-winded tutorial, it took me under a minute to edit the photo. Easy!
Here is the comparison again: