Of course, the first step toward making good photographs is knowing how to use the camera, knowing exposure basics and knowing how to compose a great photo. However, once you’ve learned those initial steps, it’s time to learn some photo-editing essentials that will help take your content to the next level.
In the article below, we will give you several quick tips on how to make edits that look professional and well done while not requiring that much knowledge or skill. The only thing you should keep in mind is that a photo can be well-edited only if it was first well shot, so always keep your focus on making your shots as good as possible, as that will only make your job easier later.
Now, let’s learn some photo-editing basics.
How to Make Edits Like the Pros
You don’t have to take a photography course to learn to edit photos well. There are a few simple things that you must do with every picture you take in order to achieve professional-looking results. Let’s see what they are.
Crop and Clean Up Your Photos
There are initial editing steps that you need to take once you’ve picked a shot that you like:
- Straighten the image: It’s always important to keep the horizon in mind when you shoot. However, if something goes off balance, you can permanently straighten the picture, and it should be one of the first things you do in the editing process.
- Crop it: If the image has any composition errors, like distracting elements at the end of the frame, then it’s a good idea to crop it so that you can keep the focus on the subject of the shot.
- Spot-clean the photo: When you’re taking pictures outside, you’re likely to see a lot of dust and other elements of nature in your photographs. If you notice any spots in your shot, then you need to remove them with spot-removing tools.
Adjust the White Balance
If your photo has an overall color tone that you dislike or just find unnatural, then you can adjust your white balance and fix it. White balance relates to color levels, and it can take your photo from looking “cool” to being “warm” in a matter of seconds. Most photo-editing programs let you use a preset mode such as “daylight,” “rainy,” or “flash” as a way to calibrate the image according to the conditions you shot it in. Additionally, many programs also have a “tint” and “temperature” slider that lets you adjust the overall lighting that’s cast on the photo.
Adjust Contrast and Exposure
Now, it’s best if you can take the correct exposure as you’re taking the shot. However, you need a lot of practice to get to that level. When adjusting the exposure, you’re able to make the photo as dark or as bright as you want it to be so that it gives the exact feel that you want it to portray, and you’re able to fix any mistakes that you made while shooting it.
When adjusting the contrast, you’re changing the range of dark to light tones. When contrast is high, you will see a stark image where the tones are either very light or very dark, regardless of color. When it’s really low, you will get a flat image where none of the elements stand out. That’s why you want to have a middle contrast to avoid those extremes.
Adjust Saturation and Color Vibrancy
Once you’ve adjusted the white balance, you can start to refine the colors in the photo by adjusting the saturation and vibrancy. The distinction between those two is extremely subtle. When you increase the vibrancy, you make the neutral colors more intense while maintaining the same intensity in brighter colors. On the other hand, when increasing saturation, you make all the colors in the photo more intense.
Typically, when you increase the saturation, you will make the brighter color pop even more, and the photo will look a lot more dramatic.
You give it a cleaner and crisper look when you sharpen an image. Most programs offer many sharpening tools, all suited for different needs. At the start, you should adjust the overall amount of sharpness (from 0 to 100), and it’s good to begin at 50% and then go up and down, depending on your preference.
Along with that, you can experiment with the editing program’s extra tools to see what effect each one of them produces. A cool one that you can test is the “clarity” or “structure” tool. It makes the edges of the objects in the image more prominent and so gives the photo a stronger look.
In order to evaluate the effect of each sharpness adjustment, you need to examine individual areas of the frame. Of course, having a lot of details won’t matter much when doing content for social media. However, it makes a big difference if you plan to print the photos in a larger format.
An important thing to note here is that you cannot make an out-of-focus shot into an in-focus shot by sharpening it. There’s no way to achieve that effect through editing. That’s why you need to make sure that the photo is shot in focus from the start, as that’s an error you can’t fix with software.
Finish Editing and Share the Photos
Once you’re done editing, you can set the photos aside for a while and come back to examine them later. If you’re not happy with something, you can make additional adjustments as needed.
Then the only thing is to convert them into the proper file format and then post them. It’s also an excellent idea to keep the original photo file, as you might want to use it at a later stage.