Remembering the days when my father and I used to post process photographs in our little dark room at home reminds me how much the world has gotten technologically advanced today. I remember test mixing chemicals all the way to shading dark areas on negatives using a pencil just to brighten out an image when shot through an enlarger. Now… all of this can be easily done and manipulated to your own tastes using a computer and a software called Photoshop… which to my opinion is the world’s most used photo imaging software.
I use Adobe photoshop a lot. To be exact, I use photoshop in almost all my photographs. Why? I want my images to look better. I noticed that images taken digitally tend to have a plain image and even when you set your expensive camera to shoot in different settings (e.g. landscape or the portrait setting), the image improves but not to my taste. This is when my use of photoshop comes in.
When I take photographs… I shoot using neutral settings so I can fully control my images in post phase. I shoot in manual mode and for my photo formats, I prefer JPEG… You would freak out that I don’t use RAW but sometimes I do shoot using RAW format. I think this is a personal preference but I know other as well as some world reknowned photographers who hate RAW. From my experiences, you don’t really need RAW to make an image look nice. Most of the work I do can be done in jpeg… the only disadvantage I see with JPEG is that it doesn’t play to well with adjusting your exposure settings…. So as long as you have your exposures right, I don’t think you need to shoot in RAW format… my opinion.
Plus, JPEG format to me is a better option because it saves space, processes faster in your memory card, and is sharper overall.
Anyways, when I use photoshop, the main tools I usually play with are the saturation settings, sharpening tool, and the cropping. I use saturation to get the right amount of colors I want… sharpening to make my images look crisp, and cropping to take out and size a photograph to my likings. Although there are only three tools that I “mainly” use, I recommend photo editors to be proficient with all the tools in Photoshop because being familiar will help you work faster and it makes you aware on what kind of options you have to improve a photo. And to do this… simply play with photoshop and learn through trial and error. It’s actually fun when you mess around with some images!
In addition, I would recommend people get a monitor calibrator so that they can get accurate colors when editing. See my article about calibrating your monitor.
Also… contrary to what many people think… I never ever use photoshop to fix up a bad photographs. IMO, a bad photograph is a bad photograph, and fixing it will just waste time. At the same time, I do not discourage photographers to not try to rescue an image because it does build skill and a user’s familiarity with Adobe’s software, I usually select pictures that can be improved and not rescued.
However so, sometimes I do get requests from clients to remove and/or improve certain things from a picture. These objects can include wrinkles, age spots, a protruding tummy, double chins to improving a smile. To be honest, I am very reluctant to manipulate changes like these in a photograph because I like to leave a photograph to remain true. I guess its better than going to a plastic surgeon but yes… people do want to look their best in a photograph and since it is a request for lets say their profile page on their website, then I can’t refuse. I just make sure that the photograph that I changed still looks real and not over-shopped. When a photograph looks over-shopped, the image tends to lose it’s realistic aspect… unless that is what the photographer is trying to portray.