Photo Editing 101

Know Your Edits

You may not be new to the photo editing game, but are you completely aware of how each manipulation you make effects your photos? Or maybe you’ve played around with editing, but you’re not completely sure what all the terms mean exactly. Here’s a list of a few major editing tools, along with what they do and when it’s necessary to use them.

Exposure, controls the amount of light in an image similar to the exposure settings right within a camera. If your photo is too bright, bringing the exposure down can often solve this problem. However, playing with your highlights and shadows can often be a better solution, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

Contrast refers to the intensity of the brightness and darkness in an image. Use a higher contrast for a more dramatic mood. A low contrast will make the photo look slightly faded, sometimes used for a flatter look.

Highlights & Shadows can help if certain areas of your photos are too dark or too light. Instead of changing the exposure of the entire image, manipulating the highlights and shadows is a more refined way of adjusting specific tones.

Temperature & Tint correct the white balance of your photo. For example, sometimes we take photos under indoor Tungsten lights that make our photos too orange or too “warm.” Adjusting the temperature to cool down the image can make the white balance look more accurate.

Saturation refers to the amount of color in an image. At 0 saturation, your image will be a black and white. The more saturation, the more intense the colors get. If your image looks a bit dull, upping the saturation can help boost the colors.

Clarity & Sharpness are useful to enhance the definition between lines in an image. Editing the clarity or sharpness of your image can bring out the details that aren’t clear in the original image.

Although these editing tools are very helpful, any great photographer will tell you that it’s important to get the settings right in the camera first. Each edit you make can degrade the overall quality of your photo. Don't think, "It's okay, I'll just Photoshop it later"…just get it right in the camera first! And hey, what do you know, we have a class for that…Fundamentals of Photography.


Photo Credits:
Michael Godek