- Why Learn Basic Photo Editing?
- Non-Destructive Basic Photo Editing
- Batch Editing Eases Workflow
- Using Presets for Basic Photo Editing
- Using Printing Company Enhancements
- Where To Go Next
- Recommended Photography Gear
- Beginner Tips for Printing Your Photos
- 4 Keys to Great Landscape Photography
- How To Make Money as a Landscape Photographer
Photo by Rawpixel via iStock
Once you get serious about photography, whether as a professional, semi-pro, or serious amateur, basic photo editing is a part of your overall photography workflow.
The way I see it, it’s similar to when film-based photography was the norm. You just didn’t feel like you were in control of or could completely understand the entire photography process without getting your feet wet with the basics of film processing and printing in a darkroom.
Knowing how to edit photos digitally and what all the different post-processing program controls mean is just as helpful for digital photography. Using Photoshop tips, YouTube videos, website tutorials, and advanced options from online printing companies will help us learn basic photo editing tasks.
Table of Contents:
Why Learn Basic Photo Editing?
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A question may arise: Why learn basic photo editing since digital photography provides so many good ways to do things for us with little or no input?
In a word, the answer is control. By knowing basic photo editing, we can better control our technical and artistic tools for creating better images.
I like to point to the example of Ansel Adams making beautiful B&W images of nature. He knew the steps needed for each aspect of what could be changed and adjusted concerning the camera, the exposure, film, chemicals, paper, and the enlarger.
Here is a nice YouTube video from The Art of Photography that introduces the Zone System for B&W film photography:
Many articles on Photography Talk explain why using the Zone System is a good idea for digital photography in both B&W and color. There’s some excellent detail in our Master Courses, too. You can get as deep as you want to; I know you will enjoy it!
For now, let’s get back to some basic photo editing tips that can be used by anyone from beginner to intermediate or advanced-level photographers.
Non-Destructive Basic Photo Editing
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When I found out about non-destructive editing post-processing programs, it quite literally changed my life, photographically speaking.
When digital photography and computer-based digital image post-processing became more and more commonplace, the programs used had a relatively high learning curve. In other words, they were hard.
Part of the difficulty was in how they worked. They were closer to vector graphics than to photography in how they operated and what the controls were. Things got better as more and more programs changed their controls and inputs to be closer to how a photographer does things.
But they were still rather top-heavy. Part of the problem was that any change you made in the program altered the image file. If you wanted to go back to any previous process, you had to have saved the original untouched file, and any changes you may need to readjust would require another image file.
That took up a lot of memory space. And that could also slow down your computer and add extra steps to your post-processing workflow. These issues are why some photographers still see post-processing as being complicated. I understand.
Non-destructive editing is so much better for basic photo editing. In non-destructive editing, the original file is left as-is, and all edits are kept as computer instructions and applied as the file is exported. It’s even saved that way, so computer memory is not sucked up so quickly.
Watch this YouTube video from Utah Desert Remote Observatories for an overview of non-destructive editing, plus some helpful Photoshop tips:
To use regular Photoshop for non-destructive editing, you use a workaround such as layers. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom was designed from the ground up as a non-destructive editing post-processing program.
Batch Editing Eases Workflow
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Have you ever sat at your computer doing something to an image file and thought about how many of your files from this shoot need the same exact little bit of processing? And how nice it would be to do that one edit to all 200 pics in the folder with one control!
That’s batch editing. For many photographers, this tool saves hours of basic photo editing. It is the ultimate workflow simplifier for certain types of photography, such as real estate, portrait, or wedding photography.
Watch this YouTube video from Ants Drone explaining some ideas on batch editing with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom:
I look at it like developing a roll of film, or as I sometimes did, several rolls all at once. I could load up my Tri-X or Ektachrome in a developing tube that held five rolls. Batch editing is like that, but even better since I can edit different processes depending on the program used.
Using Presets for Basic Photo Editing
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Sometimes, I wish I could copy what someone else has done with advanced or basic photo editing and plug it into my own program. That would save so much time for rudimentary edits.
I just described presets and plugins. Using a preset can be the entire basic photo editing job or a jumping-off point for deeper edits and more complicated enhancements.
As seen in this YouTube video from Todd Dominey, presets can be used as an effective shortcut for basic photo editing:
When making clothing, patterns are used, we use formats in crafting letters and resumes, and a one-man band might have a sequencer laying out a beat track during their live performance at Central Park. That’s how I see plugins and presets for basic photo editing. Super helpful when needed.
Using Printing Company Enhancements
Photo by leonid_tit via iStock
As a final tip for how to edit photos, sometimes I like to take advantage of the imaging enhancements available from high-end printing companies for my physical photography products.
Here is an example from Pure Art Printer, a printing company I use for professional-grade prints:
Pro File Enhancements from Pure Art Printer is a service that eases a workflow and helps create final images by enhancing aspects of your image to your specifications. They examine and work on Color Tuning, Dust and Dirt Removal, Professional Enlargement for MAX Printable File Size, Sharpening, and other things you ask them about.
In the order form is a space with room for all sorts of instructions and ideas you can tell them. They also correspond back with you to get it all done right, just if you want it. It's a great service for pros and beginners alike.
Where To Go Next
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Where do you go after you’ve learned and gotten comfortable with basic photo editing? The sky's the limit, really. We have excellent articles and courses here at PhotographyTalk that go into detail about lots of stuff beyond basic photo editing.
Among the tools I used for initial and deeper learning were the excellent online tutorials offered for free by post-processing software companies such as Adobe and ACDSee.
Enhancing images with basic post-processing is easier than you may have thought at first. Learning and putting to use new skills and techniques will let you continue to advance and make excellent photos.