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Author Topic: The Art of Editing: When is Editing your photo too much?  (Read 25173 times)
eagleyepro
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« on: March 13, 2013, 11:07:29 AM »
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Hello Everyone,

I'm posting this thread because i'm interested in hearing what you think about editing and photography. I'm a photographer and as in all photography, I edit my photos. Sometimes the original photo is just not right or there are some essential changes/enhancements that I need to do to get the end result i'm looking for.  This year I printed an album called "the art of editing" which I presented to my clients to show them before and after photos of their day. The intent was to show them that photography in many cases includes editing and that if you edit your photos, you are not any less of a good photographer.

Being able to edit your photographs takes just as much talent as taking a great photo but with a combination of both, the results can be extraordinary.

So my question is what is your definition of a great photographer? What does that look like with regards to editing, enhancements, and the end result?
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RSL
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 12:19:31 PM »
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Hi, Eag, and welcome aboard.

My definition of a great photographer: "a photographer who makes great pictures." My definition of "editing" is what most people call "culling." You go through your shots and get rid of the ones that don't fly. It's a skill most photographers never bother to master. Instead, they believe they can take a photograph which is, in the words of Henri Cartier-Bresson, "feebly composed" and make something worthwhile out of it by cropping, cloning, and/or various other hideous attacks on it. Doesn't work, but most of them never figure that out.
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Isaac
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 12:25:37 PM »
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Doesn't work...

Doesn't work for me.

FTFY
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iluvmycam
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 12:46:24 PM »
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Try something in between for color.

As far as your question? You only have to please yourself unless your a paid photog.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 01:44:28 PM »
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All good questions. Answering them and debating them would quickly fill pages and pages of this forum (as I am sure it already did, if one looks through older threads). My short response would be: there are great photographers who do not edit, and there are great photographers who edit extensively.

Thus I will limit my response  to your posted edit (welcome, btw - I thought I'd get that out of the way before I embark on saying something that might be interpreted as unwelcoming Wink).

It does not work for me. As a client, I would rather accept the original version (this is not to say the real client might not prefer the edited one). Your edit breaches what I like to call believability. I assume you wanted to replace the gray, overcast lighting with some glorious, orange glow of the late afternoon sun. That is all fine, but, in my opinion, you overdid it.

That the sun, hitting the right side of the pillars, could be that orange is actually believable. Anything else, given that it is in the shade, isn't - shades are typically cooler, bluish. The guy's hand is particularly overdone in its "orange-ness". That patch of dry grass in the lower left corner now fights for attention, given how bright and orange it is. Even if not so orange, it would be a prime candidate for a different kind of editing: cloning out. It does not add anything to the story but distracts.

So, edit yes, but the right one for the purpose.

Welcome again, and my apologies if I turned your attempt at a philosophical debate into a lowly critique.
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k bennett
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 02:02:28 PM »
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I do both extensive culling and often extensive post processing before I am happy with a final image. In the case of your posted example, I think the "after" image is well done. Is it "believable" per Slobodan? Maybe not, but I expect that clients will like it anyway. As long as it sells, it's good.

As for the idea of showing clients the before-and-after view, in the hopes of getting them to understand the work and artistry involved, perhaps further in the hopes of having them be willing to pay higher rates for it, well, I don't think that works. It may even be counterproductive. For retail clients (wedding and portrait), show great, finished work that justifies your fees by being obviously better than your competition. For clients who are in the business (design shops, ad agencies), they already know what goes into making the best image. So, show great finished work that justifies your fees..... Smiley
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Gulag
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 07:10:48 PM »
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If everyone and his cousin try to make their shots look like something coming out of Instagram or any other popular Photoshop filters,  my question is why clients need to hand over their money in the first place.
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“For art to be art it has to cure.”  - Alejandro Jodorowsky
eagleyepro
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2013, 10:26:28 PM »
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Hey I appreciate the perspective and comments. I do agree, that photo is on the extensive side compared to original and logical. In general my style of editing is crisp, clean and enhanced. I edit in a variety of ways for my clients but regardless of the editing, if the photo isn't good compositionally, then you are very limited to how good you can make it.

Yeah it's an interesting thing because many people I have met are either one extreme or the other.  When I started the art of editing (before and after) it was to create a platform so clients can both appreciate the art of editing and I can educate them. That business model has been working well for me and developed into a unique selling point.

Thanks for the comments  Smiley
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 10:34:18 PM by eagleyepro » Logged

kikashi
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 03:35:47 AM »
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I think that before your question can be meaningfully discussed, you have to define your terms.

I ingest a raw file into Lightroom and adjust a few sliders in the Develop module. Is it "edited"?

I use the gradient tool in LR to bring out the contrast between clouds and blue in the sky, or to lighten the foreground. Is it "edited"?

I use the adjustment brush in LR so that some shadowed bushes acquire details in their foliage, or to even the light on a subject's face. Is it "edited"?

I add a vignette, so concentrate attention on the centre. Is it "edited"?

I take the image on a round trip to Photoshop, where I clone out some irritating rocks which are causing the image to look unbalanced, or to clone in open eyes from a similar image over the blinked-shut eyes of one of the subjects. Is it "edited"?

I suspect we'd all agree that by the time I get to the last fiddle, the original photo has been edited. Whether it's over-edited or not is perhaps a matter of taste: there are those landscape photographers who recoil in horror at the idea of cloning out a rock and there are those (I among them) whose aim is only for a final image and who, if (unlike me) they had the skills, would happily play until they achieve a pleasing result.

Where we'd draw a line among the first few steps is another matter.

Jeremy
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2013, 03:58:42 AM »
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Apparently, the meaning of editing has been subverted.

Rob C
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k bennett
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2013, 06:05:04 AM »
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Apparently, the meaning of editing has been subverted.

Rob C

If you mean that people say editing when they mean processing, you are correct.
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eagleyepro
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2013, 07:45:53 AM »
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If you mean that people say editing when they mean processing, you are correct.

K Bennett, Great question and observation. I was actually waiting till someone asked that because "editing a photo" in the definition I used was actually image processing.  

So based on these two definitions

Image editing encompasses the processes of altering images, whether they be digital photographs, traditional analog photographs, or illustrations. Traditional analog image editing is known as photo retouching, using tools such as an airbrush to modify photographs, or editing illustrations with any traditional art medium. Graphic software programs, which can be broadly grouped into vector graphics editors, raster graphics editors, and 3d modelers, are the primary tools with which a user may manipulate, enhance, and transform images. Many image editing programs are also used to render or create computer art from scratch.

vs

Image Processing: A technique in which the data from an image are digitized and various mathematical operations are applied to the data, generally with a digital computer, in order to create an enhanced image that is more useful or pleasing to a human observer, or to perform some of the interpretation and recognition tasks usually performed by humans. Also known as picture processing.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/image-processing#ixzz2NW8RayN2

I like to think that i'm an image processor based on the concept that image editing in many cases is to create images from scratch while image processing is to enhance and increase my own interpretation of what I originally saw when taking the photo.

So now i'd ask the question, are you an image processor or an image editor based on the two definitions I posted. ( I do not own those definitions and were quoted via online sources. I'd assume and pose a good guess that many photographers who want a enhanced but not dramatically manipulated Image are Image processors and not Image editors. What are your thoughts? (everyone)

This thread is turning out to be a great conversation  Smiley
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 07:47:47 AM by eagleyepro » Logged

k bennett
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2013, 08:23:43 AM »
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Actually, my definition of editing is more journalism based -- I edit my take to eliminate photos that I do not want to keep, then do a second edit to choose images that I want to process.

So, for example, I would edit the photos that I shot this morning, then process the final selection. Or, I would edit photos for my portfolio -- presumably these are already processed, and I would make several iterative edits to come up with a final set.

The two definitions you posted are both processing, in my mind.
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eagleyepro
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 08:37:57 AM »
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Actually, my definition of editing is more journalism based -- I edit my take to eliminate photos that I do not want to keep, then do a second edit to choose images that I want to process.

So, for example, I would edit the photos that I shot this morning, then process the final selection. Or, I would edit photos for my portfolio -- presumably these are already processed, and I would make several iterative edits to come up with a final set.

The two definitions you posted are both processing, in my mind.

Ah ok touche,  that works.

Looking at my actual process from camera to client is the same, but we give the actions different definitions. (nothing wrong with that as this is personalized Smiley ) What is your actual definition of processing? It looks like there are two contexts that we talking about processing with regards to logging and sorting compared to actual image changes and enhancements.

For example, when I log and transfer my photos from my camera and select the ones that I'm going to "edit". I'm processing through/selecting based on look, clarity, composition and many more things (no photo changes yet just sorting). Once I have chosen my select photos then I go into editing/processing where there is actually photo enhancements and changes going on.

Re-reading this over is funny based on how it all looks and that it comes down to personal definitions of the processes.

Great comments.. Smiley
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2013, 09:01:12 AM »
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Patience comes with age; trust me.

Rob C
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eagleyepro
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2013, 09:15:23 AM »
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Patience comes with age; trust me.

Rob C

And hopefully wisdom.

Eagleyepro
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 12:09:15 PM by eagleyepro » Logged

Isaac
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2013, 11:41:38 AM »
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select the ones that I'm going to "edit"

  • Photo selection "edits" the batch of photos.
    (Select stories from all the available stories.)
  • Image processing "edits" a specific digital image.
    (Wordsmith a specific story.)
  • Photo editing "edits" the context in which selected processed images are viewed.
     (Arrange which stories lead, which are side-by-side.)

(See Photo-Editing and Presentation)

hopefully wisdom

Declining hormone levels.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 12:03:07 PM by Isaac » Logged
eagleyepro
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2013, 12:08:33 PM »
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  • Photo selection "edits" the batch of photos.
    (Select stories from all the available stories.)
  • Image processing "edits" a specific digital image.
    (Wordsmith a specific story.)
  • Photo editing "edits" the context in which selected processed images are viewed.
     (Arrange which stories lead, which are side-by-side.)

(See Photo-Editing and Presentation)

Declining hormone levels.

Thanks Isaac

Very helpful and i'll check that out.
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Gulag
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2013, 02:03:19 PM »
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for my own workflow, PhotoMechanic is the best editing software.

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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2013, 04:19:03 PM »
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And hopefully wisdom.

Eagleyepro


That you can depend upon.

;-)

Rob C
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