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10 Do's and Don'ts of Photo Editing for Beginners

10 Do's and Don'ts of Photo Editing for Beginners

If you’re new to photography, editing your images might seem daunting. There are many different types of software, but with many of them, you can do the same basic tasks to improve your images. These common editing do’s and don’ts are appropriate for anyone who wants to learn how to edit their own images. Do: Shoot RAW Shoot with editing in mind by shooting RAW with your DSLR from This allows for easy editing like fine tuning your exposure, white balance, and many other things right in the Camera RAW window of your editing program. Plan for cropping Give yourself room to crop. If you accidentally cropped out someone's toe, or ear, you can't zoom out to make it wider. You can only make it tighter with editing programs. Understand white balance This may be the single most important thing to know how to adjust when editing. White balance can make or break your photo if it’s not correct. Setting white balance can be done in camera, but if it does need to be adjusted, you can easily do this during post-processing as long as you are shooting in RAW with your camera from Shoot with a low ISO Shoot with as low an ISO as you realistically can. The lower the ISO, the more dynamic range you can get before noise becomes a serious problem. Zoom In When you’re editing, it’s easy to make adjustments to a photo as a whole and think that it looks great. But before you save and close, zoom in and make sure you’re not overlooking a detail that could have an easy fix. Is there a blemish on someone’s forehead or trash on the ground in the corner? When you pay attention to the small details, it will make your photo look nicer as a whole.   Don't: Choose not to edit Never underestimate the importance of editing your photos. Get too cute It's one thing for a photo to be noticeably edited, it's another for it to be gaudy. The difference is sometimes a fine line. Try to keep your editing tasteful, and always ask yourself if what you're adding contributes to the feeling the photograph is intended to evoke, or if it has no effect. Crush your blacks and clip your highlights Attempt to maintain at least a small amount of detail while using the exposure slider to get the body of the image where you want it, and the contrast slider to push the boundaries until they brush the edges. Rush Take your time. Have a cup of coffee, catch up on Facebook, and come back to editing later. You may find that you will sometimes look at an edit later on and want to entirely re-do it. Using the "Virtual Copy" in Lightroom is very useful for doing this and not losing your previous edit. Overdo It It’s easy when you are starting to play around with editing software to want to experiment with the different effects. Just don’t fall into the trap of over editing. As a general rule of thumb, apply whatever effect it is you’re working with and get it to the point you think looks good, THEN just tone it down a little more. This will help ensure that you’re not going overboard with a certain effect. Now that you’ve seen some editing tips, use them to be creative and really start turning your photos into works of art
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