To start off with, I want to make it clear that by 'editing' blog photos, I mean in the sense of adding depth to your photography, tweaking or enhancing the overall look of them. I don't mean editing as in airbrushing - we'll leave that to the magazines!
But have you ever shot a bunch of outfit photos for your fashion blog only to look through them afterwards and think "these are awful, and the light isn't good enough and I can't be bothered to re-shoot!!" ... Because I have! Plenty of times! Luckily, I shoot in RAW format now so it's literally 2 seconds to fix bad lighting, but below are some tips on how to re-adjust JPEGS.
Here are some of the ways that I how I edit my blog photos. First of, I use Adobe Photoshop CS5 which isn't the most updated version, but it does the job. This might vary from your version of Photoshop, so the tools and actions might be in a different place. (Also please also note that this is just the process in which I do things. I've been using Photoshop ever since we were taught it at college, but I hated the classes because the teacher was horrible. I ended up teaching myself, and I might have probably picked up some habits along the way! But I thought I would share what I know)
Brighten up your photos
Starting off with a simple one here! Ordinarily, I'll discard this photo (the original on the left hand side) and just choose one another to use, as I'll have lots of other ones to pick from. For the purpose of this blogpost, I've picked a fairly dark jpeg photograph to show you what can be done to "fix" it.
If the only option is to shoot in jpeg format, this is totally fine! Start by opening the JPEG file in Photoshop and below is a quick run-through of how to edit:
You can just go straight in to Brightness and Contrast and leave it as that but you may lose a lot of detail in the photograph in the process (the white will be too washed out), and you don't want that to happen. It's always best to spend 5 minutes tweaking it so that it looks the best it possibly can.
1. EXPOSURE: Image > Adjustment > Exposure
The first thing I do with all my photos is adjust the exposure. Start off by making really small changes, but turn gamma correction down and the dark image will brighten up without over-exposing.
2. CURVES: Image > Adjustment > Curves
As soon as you move the diagonal line, you can see the image changing. You can make a few points on the line to adjust your image. Again, don't go too mad on this because it will ruin your photo (remember, you can always go back a step if you've made a mistake), but a few tiny adjustments in curves make the biggest difference.
3. LEVELS: Image > Adjustment > Levels
I don't always use this setting but if you need to, Levels adjusts tonal range and colour balance by intensity levels shown on the slider. There are three points to move on the slider; shadows, midtones and highlights.
4. CONTRAST: Image > Adjustment > Brightness/Contrast
Usually, it is at this point that I will use brightness/contrast to add definition back in to the image. However, I didn't use this setting on this particular photo because the clouds in the sky and my white shirt was fading each time I tried to change the contrast. You still want to maintain as much of the detail as possible so this is where you to be careful not to over do the editing, as it can look over (or under)-exposed and washed out. Whites are really difficult to change and it's always best to salvage this in RAW mode.
Using Blending Modes to Brighten A Photo
The best way to describe is that this effect is a bit like putting Instagram filter on a picture. I use blending modes to brighten photos but I don't usually use a brown toned overlay on photos like I've done here, but this best demonstrates the difference between the original and the edited version.
As you can see from the original photo, this was a bad choice of backdrop. The whole vibe of the photo is heavy, and there are a lot of clashes. The darkness of the trees completely clashed with my hair but here, I'll show you how to add a layer to transform the image to a useable one. We actually ended up moving a little bit further down the road (you can see the actual blogpost here and see how much difference it makes when you choose a suitable backdrop).
1. EXPOSURE: Image > Adjustments > Exposure
Same as before, adjust the image by using the exposure setting. Don't touch the Offset slider for this one.
2. USING BLENDS:
First of all, create a new layer and then pick a colour using the colour picker tool. I've used brown here, but you can use any you like. Brown, red, and yellow tones adds warmth, but if the photo is already quite yellow-y and you want to cool it down, use blues. I tend to use a light purple as it neutralise the colour and it doesn't change the photo too much. The second stage is to fill the image with the colour you've chosen and change the two settings that I've circled in pink. In the Blend Mode dropbox, pick Soft Light and by this point, you may notice the image looking very different. Sometimes it can look a bit too washed out, so turn the opacity down. You can see that anything in the picture that used to appear too dark is now considerably brighter and the details are now showing up (eg. my jeans)
3. VIBRANCE: Image > Adjustment > Vibrance
Instead of using brightness and contrast settings, I've used Vibrance and Saturation here. This does exactly what it says, and makes the colours in the photograph more vibrant.
Matte Finish Photography
This is really easy to do! I use the quite a lot but not to this extreme. I usually make a lot of my close up details shots this way (shoes, bags, jewellery details) and as you can see, it's ends up looking a lot more interesting than the original photo.
1 and 2: Edit lighting with EXPOSURE and CURVES like before.
If your photos are dark and dull, brighten them up in the steps I mentioned above. If your happy with how your photos have turned out and all you need to do is make them "matte", just open up EXPOSURE (images > adjustment > exposure) and turn the OFFSET up.
You can also do this by opening up CURVES and pushing the bottom left hand corner upwards. You'll see the image change as you do this so you can determine how much to toggle upwards.
3. You can choose to leave the photo as it is but I like to add definition to the photo, and for it to not look so flat. Increase the contrast and it just lifts the colours up a bit.
OTHER QUICK TIPS:
• You can download Photoshop Actions that apply blends ("filters") at a single click of a button. They are set filters so you can't go back a step if it appears too much or not enough. You do lack control but there are thousands of actions to download, and you can pick the ones that suit your style the most. You can create actions yourself but I don't know how to do this yet.
• Magazines editorials vary within a single issue, otherwise it would be really boring if you flipped through the whole magazine and everything looks samey-samey! Feel free to do the same with your content and experiment with photo editing, the creative freedom is all yours! You may want to change things up each time you publish a blogpost but it's best to stick to one style per blogpost so that each post looks more cohesive and consistent.
• If you don't have photoshop, you can use free photo editing website. Picmonkey is my favourite but another good one is Fotor and Pixlr. Just upload your photo and away you go!
If you have any other tips to share, drop me a comment below! Would love to hear what you think of this blogpost! It took me ages to put together! I'm going to be doing a Beauty Photography blogpost too - I've already got the photos sorted out so it's just a case of writing it up. I won't keep you waiting too long so if you're a beauty blogger and want some tips, keep your eyes peeled for it!
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