We sometimes get asked: “Why do we edit our photographs?”
The reason is simple. We want to make a great shot better. I was chatting to another guy who takes photographs and who was interested in us shooting his wedding and I explained that for a wedding I would spend an average of 20 hours after the wedding day picking the best photographs and then editing them to our standard. He said “Yes, but if you get it right in the camera you won’t have to edit the photo.”
Of course we always aim to get the exposure right in the camera to start with (or +/- 1 or 2 stops if we think the camera is telling porky’s) so while the above statement is true to some extent i.e. if you want your images to look like they just got taken off the memory card, it will still never look as good as even a quick post-processing, even if you have a £25k medium format camera.
As a professional company which has built up a reputation for quality work, starting with a £400 DLSR and having absolutely no reputation, we have learned A LOT in the last 5 years. We edit every image that we take for professional purposes (and even edit those that are only for family), be they wedding, portrait, event, landscape (for Wall Art), automotive or anything else because we want them to look their best and our style of photography.
Above is a great example to use. I used this shot of Rich Hill’s Mercedes SLK 300 as he took it himself so it’s not even my shot. This perfectly demonstrates that other photographers with great equipment edit their shots too. Above is the photograph right off the camera, cropped a wee bit. A very nice car and very nice shot taken by Rich on Canon’s 2nd best camera; the highly epic 5D Mark III with the 24-105 f4L lens. Depending on the resolution of your screen (or if you open them fully) you might see banding in the gradients on the images below. This is due to the images being resized for web as the original files are too big to put on the website. When printed in full resolution these images will all look incredible!
Below is Rich’s edit he uploaded to his page.
It’s a great edit! The car looks awesome and the tones in the shot are nice and even. He’s brought out the sky and the sunset beautifully in a subtle High Dynamic Range (HDR) edit that looks complete with a full range of blacks to whites. It’s a great shot to sell to a client and I would have edited it in a similar way.
The edits below are examples of how far the editing can be pushed to the limits where digital noise is starting to be apparent. It’s not extreme HDR like you can see if you Google the term as that’s not really my taste but as Emily put it “they look like they’re from a computer game” now.
I had a the sky masked so could change the colour and the green looks nuts!
I wasn’t going to put a wedding “before” and “after” up as it might show our process. I’ve spent time creating our identity for our wedding work so I can’t divulge the techniques or processes involved to create the final image but here is one from Amelia & Paul’s wedding from last year. The below image is a great shot right off the camera (bar the watermark, sorry). I had complete control over the exposure with the day being a bit overcast. I shot it as my Canon 6D metered (evaluative metering) with our 85mm at 1/2000 @ f/1.8 ISO100. (The reason I chose evaluative metering as opposed to Partial or Center-Weighted Average is a separate blog post entirely.)
Suffice to say that I wanted to capture the detail of Amelia’s beautiful dress and veil which I could then bring through and control in post production. You can see the full EXIF data here.
And THAT is why we edit our photographs. To make a great shot better.
Thanks to Rich Hill for his permission to use his photograph of his SLK. If you’re into equestrian or competition swimming photography you should check out his page for some cracking work!!