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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Photo Editing with Dymps and Dimes

Today I am doing something a little different on the blog - I will be talking about photo editing. I have received a few questions as of late on how I edit my photos. I have never really thought much about my editing. I do everything by trial and error and I don't always get it right so I was really flattered when some people asked ME for advise (lil ol me)
I know there are numerous articles/blogs out there catered to photo editing so this is simply a subjective post on the little I have learnt by myself. 

Now everyone who is anyone with awesome, crisp and bright photos will tell you that natural light or good light is key. That is all well and good - IF you live in LA. If you are from a gloomy country (the weather in the UK is shocking most of the time), it is difficult to always get 'good lighting' hence the need to perfect certain elements of photo editing. The picture below was shot in what most would call 'poor lighting'. The photo was taken indoors with no natural light and a very dim indoor light but a good workman doesn't blame his tools - all the time.

The first step is to welcome you into my world of apps. My top four go to apps. Again, the blogs usually mention some of the ones I will mention so if you want an in-depth review on any, just google it :)

Top Four Apps

1.  Lightroom  (*GASP* she didn't say VSCOCAM first *SHOCK HORROR*)- VSCOCAM is second but my favourite has to be Lightroom. Fortunately, I received the software alongside the purchase of my point and shoot so I never had to pay for it. You are also given the opportunity to have a little mobile app to go alongside the desktop software.

Why do I love this software? It changes a picture from dull to sass with a simple click of auto tune.  I know that's not very pro of me BUT the auto tune is sometimes so good that I don't really have to do much else. And if I am not happy with what the auto tune has provided, I simply control specific elements myself such as 'highlights, contrasts etc'. Everything is so easy and can be easily replicated onto every photo. In other words, you can create a uniform edit for all photos if you wanted to. 
A little trick I do is edit one photo, take a picture of how I have developed (see below), then use the same edit for all photos.

I love that the software never compromises the quality of my pictures  - EVER. And for someone not too tech savvy, it is really straight forward. I am sure there are so so many cool things to do with Lightroom, I simply haven't had the time to really explore it to it's full potential but the basics are definitely more than basic.
If you aren't sure on whether you want to actually pay for the software, adobe offer a free trial so it's worth downloading and using even if it's only for 30 days.

2. VSCO CAM (the people's favourite)  - I looveeee the VSCO CAM. I am sure everyone reading this post has it and if you don't, you don't take your life that seriously (lol, just kidding). But honestly, this app is a blogger's must have and has even been commended by photographers. I invested in all presets because I really wanted to explore them all , however, I usually only stick to the A or C presets to get a uniformed look on my Instagram.

3. PhotoGrid - This is the app I use for borders, to combine two pictures or add text etc. It is the string that ties together my photo editing. I know Squaready and Instacollege are also popular, but IMO, Photogrid blows them all out of the water.

4. Pixlr / PS Express - I know I am cheating here by giving the both of them but I use them for almost the same thing. Pixlr is admittedly used to edit any massive spots I may have had on shooting day. I also use the 'smooth' function to add more of a professional look to my photo's if needs be.  I use Pixlr Express on my Mac a lot usually for final touch ups. PS Express is also brilliant for final touches or breathing life into a picture. 


So there you have it, my absolute must have, will never delete, top four photo editing apps (you can find all of them in your app store). 

Now on to the actual editing!

1. I found out recently that the highlighting tool on your chosen app should be your best friend if the look you're going for is clean, crisp and minimalist. Highlights are the difference between a grey looking background or a clean bright white background. Play with those highlights kids because they can turn a good picture into a great one (check out @missenocha on instagram for some brilliant highlighting inspo)

2. I tend to keep my saturation at a minimum, again, for a crisp and clean looking image. A highly saturated image can make the image look too busy. Most of the apps mentioned above deal with saturation. I usually use VSCO cam to edit the saturation by -1. This means the colour is still in the image without the whole image being a weird yellowy colour (check out @fashioninflux on instagram for examples on minimal saturation)

3. Obviously - BRIGHTEN. Yes, simply editing the brightness of a picture could make a huge huge difference. 

4. Learn to sharpen your images even if it's only by a little. This can make an item really stand out by giving the item some definition. I prefer to sharpen an image than add structure as adding structure may add unwanted shadows creating a harsh effect to the photo. Using a sharpening tool instead of a structure/definition one creates a subtle but mighty difference.

5. I haven't really seen the 'whites / blacks' tool on the apps (maybe I haven't looked hard enough) but I usually use this on lightroom. This means if a background or subject is meant to be white, I increase the whiteness (for loss of a better term) and if I wanted something black to look rich in colour, I would manage that element. This function must be available somewhere in the many editing apps out there but it is very very useful in bringing out the true colours of whites and blacks (the Doctor White of photo editing).

It goes without saying that editing is subjective and should ultimately go with your theme. There isn't one definitive way to edit but these are just a few of the things I do to improve the quality of my pictures.  It is better to try not to over-edit. If you can, do always opt for good natural light which leads to less editing, less headache and doesn't impact the quality of your picture(s).  

I hope this has helped a little or a lot (i'd prefer a lot). 
Feel free to comment if you do anything differently, have any tips, or want to correct me on anything I may have mis-communicated.

Thanks for reading as always


Before / After: picture taken with my iPhone, indoors and with dim lighting - edited using apps and techniques above
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