How to Edit Your Photos

Getting into a groove of having a digital darkroom workflow that works for you frees up time to take more photos. In many ways can improve your ability to get a better shot ‘in-camera’. There is nothing more inhibiting to getting out and building your photographic repertoire, than the dread of spending hours in front of the computer, before you have anything useable. Software makes the creative opportunities almost endless, but here we just cover the basics of how to edit your photos in Lightroom.

Here is my process. Everyone does things slightly differently and these things change over time. Once you get it dialled building your own workflow will speed things up for you and can be very satisfying!

In-camera before I even get to the editing studio:

  • Make sure the camera is set up to record images chronologically. Most do this as standard unless it’s been changed in settings
  • Shoot in RAW. This will look flat on the back screen but give loads more flexibility on the computer. It’s possible to change the exposure, white balance and detail.
  • Try and exposure well. On the histogram, this will mean the ‘hill’ will be in the middle, and little data bunched up at the sides. For the more advanced ‘expose to the right’ I.e. intentionally slightly overexpose. The logic being that darks are harder to recover in post, so more detail in the shadows gives you more to work with. The brighter areas (normally the sky) can be brought down later.
  • Try and get the image composed and level before you press the shutter release. A lot of modern cameras have a level guide on the back screen, or you could use a bubble level hotshoe mount. With practise you get used to doing this by eye.
RAW Original Image of Mountains Reflected in the Lake
RAW Original Image – Can Look Flat but Holds Loads More Data to Play With in Post

The Digital Darkroom

Then load ‘em up into editing software, I tend to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. In the Develop module I will generally;

  • Lens corrections & level horizon
  • Crop
  • Texture
  • Dehaze/Clarity
  • Sky grad filter
  • Dust spots
  • Dodge/Burn
  • Sharpening

The joy of Lightroom is it’s non-destructive. Changes you’ve made sit on top of the image, rather than changing it permanently. This means you can step backwards, make virtual copies and do something completely different. This allows you to have a play and experiment with your creations.

Processed Image with Composition Tweaked and More Pleasing to the Eye
Processed Image with Composition Tweaked and More Pleasing to the Eye

Following this workflow you can get great repeatable results from your landscape photography. Look out for our more detailed posts, videos and workshops on how to edit your photos and expand your skills.

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