PHOTO BLOG: How much is too much?

I always struggle with how much of a change to make when I edit photos. The possibilities are endless. For example:

I once took a picture of some flowers. I was trying to fix the original, where the daisy was so overexposed you couldn’t distinguish what it was. Now, where is the bottom line? How low can you go?

Which of these images do you prefer? Why?

 

(Of course there’s an argument for layering the two images and capturing the best of both. I try to avoid layering and in-depth editing beyond levels, curves, image sizing and the like. If I get too invested I lose the original picture’s sense.)

My editing woes don’t stop there. I also find that in overly monotone shots (for example, lush green fields) it is nice to sometimes warm up the color palate or focus elsewhere.

Both of the below shots feature a higher red channel than blue or green, which hopefully doesn’t make it look like the fields are bleeding or burning. In fact, I think it helped. (The strawberry still looks kinda sad but it wasn’t intended to look appealing so much as provide a sense of scale.)

 

Part of me enjoys the game of reviewing photos, but when there’s thousands to sort through, it gets rather time-consuming even doing the basics. Thus, I’ve committed myself to taking the best possible raw shot I can to allow for minimal-to-no cleanup.

Take the strawberry shot for example, where I did about five minutes of total editing from open to export. That includes making a funky second edit just for kicks.

 

That feels like a good time allotment for each file. Five minutes, maybe 10 if there’s something that needs genuine fixing. That’s my personal thoughts, what about you? How long does it take to do the basics?

Sometimes I open a shot I’m not too happy with composition-wise and as I edit it and realize what I didn’t see before, I grow to like the photo as I’m changing it. You know what I mean?

Initially I didn’t really like any of the shots above, but after opening them and looking at them through a different lens (badumpsh) I found different things to like in each.

So, maybe sometimes it is better to edit a shot than leave it alone. In general, though, I think it’s best to try to take the cleanest picture you can. Do you agree?

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