As you recall, I started this Friday feature last week to show a favorite photo and how I tweaked it to make it a "keeper". This week's photo isn't a dramatic improvement, but I wanted to show how you can turn a "meh" photo into "pretty good" because every shot isn't going to be THE BEST SHOT EVER.
At the end of August, we explored our own city of Seattle with a visit to the Fremont Troll. It was a bright sunny day around 4pm so there were lots of shadows. I took my "big camera" - my Canon T3i DSLR.
I nearly always use my 50mm f1.8 lens, and keep the camera in Av mode (aperture priority) which lets me adjust the depth of field (aka blurriness of the background). I got this shot of my three loves, which is fine, but nothing to write home about.
I liked the repeating element of the bridge behind them, but the rest of the photo had a lot of bright washed-out areas. I took 4 similar shots because babies and little girls are unpredictable, and this was the best one.
I use Adobe Lightroom 4 to import my photos from my camera and phone, and to keep them organized. We have nearly 17,000 photos so I wanted a program that would easily be able to handle this volume. I also use it for most of my edits since l don't do complex editing.
The first thing I always do with my photos is crop them if necessary. Since this was a portrait orientation shot from a distance, I thought it would benefit from just a little bit of cropping to highlight the people, who are the most important part of my photo. As much as I liked the bridge in the background, a lot of it had to go.
The next thing was to tackle the washed-out aspect of the photo. I'm not scientific about this - remember, I'm not a photographer. Lightroom has very cool "sliders" that you can play around with, and reset if you screw up. In this case, I turned down the Highlights, Shadows and Whites quite a bit to show more detail in the street, on my daughter's T-shirt, and on her face, which are all in the sun and pretty washed out in the original. There's also an Auto button which is a nice starting point, and you can always Undo that if you don't like the results.
My next favorite sliders, that I use for nearly every photo, are in the "Presence" section just below the Exposure/Brightness stuff. I bumped up the Clarity slider to +29 add more contrast, and the Vibrance slider to +24 to make the colors pop more.
Each photo is going to be different, so you can't just take the same numbers and use them all the time, but you quickly get a good idea of what a photo "needs" after doing this several times.
I've also learned that not every single one can be edited into a "WOW" photo - most of my "WOW"s start out that way from the camera. I could have messed around with this one some more, using a brush to lighten specific areas on the baby's face, etc. But I knew I'd get frustrated and likely would make the photo worse rather than better. Part of what I've learned from lots of editing is knowing when to quit, and call a photo "good enough".
This photo isn't awesome enough for framing, but I'll definitely use it in our family Project Life scrapbook.
So tell me, does this post help? I know it's not about the nitty gritty details of editing, but just wanted to highlight the idea of "good enough", and trusting what you see.