How did you develop "an eye" for editing?

Mijoh

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So I'm just starting out and taking all of your wonderful advice by trialing different editing programs. I've got the 30 day trial on Elements right now and I'm working really hard on actually understanding the software. My problem is that although I've started to understand the program technically, there is still a profound learning curve against me creatively. Just because I know how to use the program, doesn't necessarily mean I know when I'm supposed to use it.

The obvious ones are easy: if it's underexposed just tweak the exposure a bit or if there's a big leaf coming out of someone's head clone it out. What about the less obvious problems though? Like just bringing out the midtones a hint, or if you just gave it a slight desaturation of green or something it would really pop! How do you learn that? Is it just experience?

So my questions to you all are these: How did you develop "an eye" for editing? Or even just "an eye" for knowing when a photograph needs some tweaking? How long do you think it took you to really be comfortable deciding on those things?

Any feedback will be much appreciated!
 

FrimpyEIBW

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So I'm just starting out and taking all of your wonderful advice by trialing different editing programs. I've got the 30 day trial on Elements right now and I'm working really hard on actually understanding the software. My problem is that although I've started to understand the program technically, there is still a profound learning curve against me creatively. Just because I know how to use the program, doesn't necessarily mean I know when I'm supposed to use it.

The obvious ones are easy: if it's underexposed just tweak the exposure a bit or if there's a big leaf coming out of someone's head clone it out. What about the less obvious problems though? Like just bringing out the midtones a hint, or if you just gave it a slight desaturation of green or something it would really pop! How do you learn that? Is it just experience?

So my questions to you all are these: How did you develop "an eye" for editing? Or even just "an eye" for knowing when a photograph needs some tweaking? How long do you think it took you to really be comfortable deciding on those things?

Any feedback will be much appreciated!

I look at a photo honestly. I think "Would I want that hanging on my wall?"

If the answer is no, I start editing.
 

RKW3

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Honestly I just go into photoshop and screw around lol.
 
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Mijoh

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I look at a photo honestly. I think "Would I want that hanging on my wall?"

If the answer is no, I start editing.

Honestly I just go into photoshop and screw around lol.

Haha, I like both of these responses! Pretty much all I'm doing right now is screwing around and randomly editing until I like how things look, but you guys are supposed to tell me it's an artform or something and that there's this obvious path to follow for the perfect photo. My type A personality demands a guideline to creativity people!
 

Nurf

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i have learned to use photoshop by looking at a photo and thinking about wat i want to change in the photograph.. if u have a good understanding on the tools in photoshop u can achieve what u want..

another good way of learning how to use the program is just browsing the internet for basic tutorials and u can learn many simple and yet complicated things
 

FrimpyEIBW

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i have learned to use photoshop by looking at a photo and thinking about wat i want to change in the photograph.. if u have a good understanding on the tools in photoshop u can achieve what u want..

another good way of learning how to use the program is just browsing the internet for basic tutorials and u can learn many simple and yet complicated things

Have you seen those Video Professor commercials on TV? They offer fres+shipping CD ROMS for various programs. I got one for Adobe Photoshop CS2, out of curiosity, I knew most of it already, but I did learn a few things as well.
 

YoungRebel

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I don't know in what format you are normally shooting your pictures in but since I shoot in RAW, I use Adobe Lightroom 'cause IMO it offers the easyest way or post-processing....So, if you look in changing or correcting settings like brightness, saturation, sharpness etc you should try out Lightroom.

But if you're more into changing backgrounds, retouching skin etc etc, then go with CS3...

So, I'd suggest first Lightroom for the correcting process, then CS3 if serious retouching is needed (everything that is not just for correcting basic things)
 
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Mijoh

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i have learned to use photoshop by looking at a photo and thinking about wat i want to change in the photograph.. if u have a good understanding on the tools in photoshop u can achieve what u want..

That's kind of the vibe I'm getting. It really is just a matter of making it look on paper like it does in your mind I guess. I just didn't know if there was a best "creative" approach to the editing process and how you learn to really "see" a photo for all it's flaws and know instantly what needs to be done to change it. Believe me I'm studying the technical side of the program like I'm about to take a freakin' midterm on it, lol. I've been searching out all these tutorials and and I got this book from the library, "Classroom in a Book" that reads just like a textbook. There's so many free resources available, it's awesome.
 
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Mijoh

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I don't know in what format you are normally shooting your pictures in but since I shoot in RAW, I use Adobe Lightroom 'cause IMO it offers the easyest way or post-processing....So, if you look in changing or correcting settings like brightness, saturation, sharpness etc you should try out Lightroom.

But if you're more into changing backgrounds, retouching skin etc etc, then go with CS3...

So, I'd suggest first Lightroom for the correcting process, then CS3 if serious retouching is needed (everything that is not just for correcting basic things)

It's so hard to know what the best program is for me until I get really going I think. For now it's just my old crappy P&S Kodak, waiting for my XTI at Christmas. My goal is to definitely shoot in RAW, but I'm just not there yet. :) While I twiddle my thumbs waiting for my camera, I'm trialing different software. I did the 30 day trial on Corel Paint Shop, now I'm on to Elements. It'll be Lightroom next, then CS3. Although honestly budget wise, I'll probably end up with Elements or Lightroom to start. Thanks for the suggestions!
 

LaFoto

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When I first saw all the possibilities of Photoshop, I almost tossed it into the corner of the room! It was so much. Too much. I did not understand A THING about it. I much preferred to use the much simpler photo editing software that had come with my camera.

By and by, though, I then ventured into PS, first only using the features easiest to understand, but then played with photos more and more, read up tutorials or just ideas mentioned by other members here on TPF on how they use their PS ... and so the abilities developed all by themselves, in a playful manner. Slowly but surely. Now I can deliberately go over board or I can leave it.

My own post processing tastes have also changed in the course of my learning and I now go and re-edit (from the saved ORIGINALS!) many of my photos that I edited a year or two ago in a manner I no longer like today.
 

YoungRebel

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Ah, ok, then sure wait for your rebel and you start with the processing :)

Overall I'm more than happy with Lightroom. It covers about 80% of my needs - just try to shoot as good as possible, so if you're not up for special effects or so, you don't have to change much in the post-processing.

Overall I think photoshopping pics too much is just not the art of photography (It's a different or design art but)...So many photos I see are so post-processed, that I sometimes can't tell how "good" the shot itself originally was or not....kinda sad...

But I see myself using Photoshop for getting rid of bad skin in portraits or adding borders, that kinda stuff, so IF - min. 80% in Lightroom ;)

Mijoh, are you a PC or MAC user ? please let me know...
 
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Mijoh

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FrimpyEIBW - Lightroom costs $299. If you're in school though, or know ANYONE in school that can order it for you, you can get it at the student rate for right around $100.


LaFoto - I definitely understand feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities that editing can offer. I like your explanation that your skills kind of developed naturally, playfully over time. I like that your tastes have changed over time as well. That makes sense to me that as your art grows, so does the way you see the editing process. Thanks for the response!


YoungRebel - I'm a PC user. I have to agree with you that overdoing the ps'ing leans into the realm of design art. Obviously my first goal is to learn how to be a good photographer and get my shots as "correct" as I can make them straight out of the camera, but I love the editing process too. Love it. I hope to be able to balance the two. I assure you that my obsession with post processing right now has a lot to do with my lack of camera at the moment. :) I'm just learning a little backwards so that once I get the camera in my eager little hands I can just shoot away.
 
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I'm very good with software and technical things, but I could not understand Photoshop until I took some lessons. It is extremely powereful, but you really need some guidance. It strikes me as the Yin to Excel's Yang. Excel is also unbelievably powerful, but an Investment Banker uses it very differently than a Researcher tabulating data.
 

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I look and then tweak, undo if I don't like it. Save and exit. Later I'll return and do a little more. The best thing I ever taught myself was working non destructively as it allows me to go away and return to my work and really do what I want to do without having to worry about it.

Here are some tips from moi:
1. Be subtle, obvious airbrushing for example can look fake and can be offensive to some people. Try airbrushing and then pulling it out a little to bring back some of the original features. This applies to much more then airbrushing.

2. Luminosity comes before hue, and hue is before saturation. So working in that order may help. For example a monotone image can stand alone without color whereas a color image does not work without luminosity.

3. Don't be scared, do anything and everything you can make yourself do in Photoshop. As long as you don't save over an original or you have it backed up then you have nothing to worry about.

Self teaching is the best way to go about learning something because it shows a willingness to learn. However having some lessons really does help as they're usually less biased towards what you want to do instead of what you should be doing. I'd give lessons a miss for the meanwhile though until you get your bearings. I'd personally recommend Lynda.com for when you want to take your learning that next step further.

I'm in the mood for rambling, sorry. Good look with everything!

BTW I think I'm a better Post Processor then I am a Photographer, you may want to avoid doing that.
 

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