Before and after

Computers have never been my best friend. I loathe learning new software, have lost more than a few documents by forgetting to save and know far fewer keyboard shortcuts than I am prepared to admit. So when I realized that the second photography course from George Brown College was focused on editing photos, I wasn't exactly enthused. Learning how to take photos was overwhelming enough without having to worry about editing them. But being able to edit photos is a key part of the photographer's toolkit.  As much as I strive to "get it right in camera" there are inevitably times when I need to make edits after the fact.

Photo editing software (like Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture or any other of the dozens of other programs) can do some pretty amazing things. It can brighten an overly dark photo, bring out details in shadow areas or highlights, correct colour issues, remove unwanted objects, etc. That said, you need to be careful. There's a fine line between improving something and making it look unnatural or overdone. Take a look at Faith Hill's arm, eyes and back on the cover of Redbook (scroll down to the flashing picture / the second magazine cover). 

Thankfully the flabbiness of babies' arms is never a problem to correct;) After taking the course and reading all 500 pages of The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers, I am starting to get the hang of it. However there are still times I make a tonne of edits only to realize it looks worse than the original and have to start over.

Here's a couple before and after photos of my friend Steph's super cute newborn, Zoe.

In the after photo below I removed a bit of the redness from Zoe's skin by adjusting the Hue, Saturation and Luminance of the red in the photo. These changes made the blanket a bit greenish, so I adjusted this colour too.

With many cameras there's a black and white setting but I much prefer to shoot in colour and change to black and white after the fact for maximum flexibility. For many photos I still have no idea exactly why I prefer it in black and white (probably a subject for a future post!) but for this one I think the back and white draws your eyes to Zoe's adorable features. 

In the after photo I brought down the clarity and sharpness a bit to soften the skin. I also removed some of the redness from the skin and cropped the photo for a closer focus on Zoe's face. 

The changes I made below were fairly subtle. The original picture was underexposed (too dark) so I increased the exposure to brighten it up and also adjusted the Highlights and Shadows to recover detail in those two areas.