Hello lovelies! How has everyone been?
I've been overwhelmed with the amount of questions and comments I've been receiving about how I edit my photographs, what Photoshop actions do I use, how I do I get a "soft" effect, etc. I've been trying to keep up in answering them all but I thought it would be much easier if I give an explanation / tutorial / information about my editing in this journal. My only ask in return is that you please "like" my Official Photography Page "Sarah Jane Photography" via Facebook - I do update frequently and give tips on photography & editing. There's even a bokeh video too!
Before I delve into resources to use... I want to say to all photographers and photoshop users that everyone has a unique way in editing, and everyone has personal styles in the way they want their 'finished' photo to look. I am deeply humbled that so many enjoy my photographs; every comment and critique is very meaningful to me. I started using Photoshop when I was 13, and I love playing around with colors and experimenting. The way I edit my photographs changes every few months, so please keep in mind that your own editing will change and grow as you do. If you pour your heart and soul into taking photographs, your photos will already be beautiful. Photoshop is just a way to 'enhance' your photographs, not alter them completely. I've found with experience, that if I change too much in my photograph (i.e edit out a background flaw / spot), then a small piece of me has been removed from the photo. Sometimes a photo looks the best when it's perfectly imperfect. Don't aim for perfection, aim for your photographs to reflect "YOU". MAIN TRICKS
(Most photographers will know these basic techniques, but for those who are starting out in photography/photoshop and editing, these techniques will be your best friend. If I'm happy with the outcome of a photo, these are the only tools I will use!) Smart-sharpening.
(Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen). If I'm shooting a macro subject, I will use the lasoo tool to 'select' only a small part of the photograph and sharpen the subject for extra focus. Saturation / Vibrancy
. You can lose quality in your photographs if you don't saturate your photo correctly. I prefer vibrancy when editing, as I find it preserves the quality and finer details of a photograph. Brightening photographs.
Particularly if your photograph is under-exposed, this is a great method in brightening your photo without making it look too washed out. Reduce noise techniques.
If you have a photo that has background noise, don't give up! There are various techniques you can use in photoshop to reduce the noise ("smoothing") in the background - and you won't lose too much quality.
AIRBRUSHING - ohh I could write essays on the problems with airbrushing if not done "correctly". I'm not talking about professional, natural airbrushing. I'm talking about using the airbrush tool set at 4% and aribrushing a portrait set on a skin color. You can just google 'Photoshop airbrush fail' to see what I'm talking about! Research different retouching technique
s that do not require using the airbrush tool. I'm a firm believer in 'keeping it natural' - unless a client personally asks me to retouch a blemish, or for special reasons (blind in one eye) - I will keep portraits looking very natural. If you know how to soften portraits, it can add a very youthful effect to a photo!
HDR sharpening effect on portraits. This is personal opinion here, but again - the over-processing on portraits looks terrible if it's not done right. HDR effect (in photoshop) creates a harsh effect on faces; it will sharpen the details of any wrinkles, lines, blemishes, and highlights any other flaws. Personally I feel HDR can look wonderful on landscape photography
if done right, but portraits look best when they're natural - and most clients will want to look youthful, not 10 years older!
HIGH KEY black & white - especially on children - if it's not done correctly, can look far too harsh on little faces. A photo can lose a lot of quality, details, sharpness, when over-exposed. I love black and white photography as it looks so classic and beautiful, but high-key can change the quality of a photo overall. I've never been able to successfully find a "perfect" technique in editing high-key, but I still have a lot to learn too!
If you're really keen on high-key photography, do your research and soak up as much info as you can! Be careful in your research, ensure that you are listening to/reading expert opinions, or with plenty of experience!
FAVOURITE PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS
These are some of my favourite, most used photoshop actions (aside from my own Photoshop actions, which I use everyday). Ittybitty Actions!
Created by one of my favourite Australian photographers, JinkyArt
, these wonderful actions create a fairytale-inspired effect to any photo. I cannot recommend these actions enough! Mama Shan's Retouch Photoshop Actions.
If you're going to retouch using any techniques, this is it. I swear by these actions, they do exactly as they claim.
I use them particularly in glamor photograph editing, weddings, etc. Florabella Collection Photoshop Actions.
I fell in love with all of these photoshop actions and I've been using them ever since - mostly for children photography - they add such a sweet and soft element to photos! Definitely worth looking into! Get Totally Rad Photoshop Actions.
These photoshop actions are legendary. I can retouch portraits, edit colors, soften backgrounds, all in one go - so quick and fast for photographers on a deadline. Every outcome of these photoshop actions are of A grade quality. FREEBIES Vintage Dark & Soft Photoshop Actions
. Yep, I'm promoting my own photoshop actions! I made these quite awhile ago, and I've been using them every day since. With over 130k downloads, people can be assured that they are downloading a professional and reliable photoshop action (which I also use for client's photographs). One day I will review these actions and upgrade them, as I've changed the way I edit my photographs, but for now they're very useful - and free! Magical Effect 4.0.
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS & TRICKS
(I use a Canon 450D and 60D slr, this is what I'm basing my tips from!)
Most of the time I have my camera's WB (white balance) set on "Warm" or "Daylight", which is why a lot of my photographs look as though it's a very sunny day - but in fact, many of my photographs have been taken in terrible overcast weather. If you can set your camera's white balance to a warmer tone, you'll be very pleased with the outcome!
Don't use the Auto mode. Step outside your comfort zone and experiment in all other manual modes. If I'm having to work quickly, I'll only use P-Mode (Program) or Tv-Mode (Shutter priority), but I'll never use auto.
Invest in a really good speedlite flash. I use a Canon Speedlite 580exII flash which I researched before I purchased, and I was very happy with the reviews.
You don't have to have the "best of the best", but a flash does absolute wonders if you're indoors particularly. You will need to learn how to 'bounce' the light off the roof or walls, so that it fills the room and looks as though it's natural light. I advise not to aim the flash at anyone - not only because you'll blind them, but it won't look good at all.
Natural light photography. There are many examples and well-known photographers
who only use natural lighting techniques for their photos. Research natural light
for ideas and tips how to achieve a natural light look in your photos. If you're outside, I find that natural light looks best from 7am - 12pm, and from 3pm-6pm. After 12pm, the sun can make the light look too harsh.
Alternatives. Again, you don't have to have the best equipment. In the past when I began my photography business, I used different alternatives than using the best equipment. In one photoshoot, when the light was too harsh, I used a white bed-sheet to dim the light against the model - and it worked beautifully. I also used the same sheet to bounce my speedlite flash so that the light would look amazing, even in low-light conditions.
Whew.. I've typed so much, I will leave it at that and write another journal soon. I wish everyone the best of luck with photography and editing! I don't claim to be a know-all in photography, I have soo much to learn; each time I do a photoshoot, I learn something new. It's all about experimenting and what works best for you!
I'd love to hear feedback upon my tips and ideas. Wish you all the very best!