What is post processing or just processing? It’s any work that is done to the image after it’s been taken. If you’re an Instagram addict then you’ll know all about post processing. Applying a filter to an image after it’s been taken that changes the appearance of the original image is known as post processing.
Some people feel that processing an image afterwards is “cheating” or “fake” and it can be quite a controversial topic. For me, I think that learning how to process your images and really get the best out of them makes you a better photographer.
So let’s talk about a few things you can do to really make your image pop.
1. THE ORIGINAL IMAGE
So here you are. You’ve taken an image with your camera, DSLR or smart phone and you want to process it. You sit at your computer looking at it. The first thing is to recognise if a photograph can be improved or not. What do you think it needs?
I look at the photo and it looks like it needs to “pop” a little more. It’s not quite punchy enough. There’s also a distracting white blob in the top corner of the image that pulls my eye away from the flowers.
If an image could pop a little more the best thing to start with is your exposure, saturation and contrast sliders. Any online editing program like PicMonkey will have these sliders, or software like Lightroom or Photoshop. I’m going to use PicMonkeyto demonstrate here as it’s something that everyone can easily access.
2. BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST & SATURATION
Adjusting your image is a bit of a balancing act. You don’t want too much of one and not enough of the other. You’ve just got to judge when the image looks right to you.
If you understand what each of these features does it will help when editing your image.
Exposure is how light or dark an image is. You can often get the exposure just right in camera. However, if you’ve taken a picture that’s a little too dark then pull the exposure slider up until you’re happy with the results. Contrast is the separation between the light and dark areas in an image, increasing the contrast will make your subject pop. Saturation is the vibrancy of colours in the image. In the image below I’ve increased the vibrancy of the yellow slider to make the daffodils really stand out. I’ve also increased the contrast and the exposure as well as lifting the highlights.
I mentioned above that in the corner of this image there is a distracting white shape. It draws your eye away from the subject. The easiest way to get rid of this is just to crop it out using the crop feature on your editing program.
A vignette (not to be mistaken with a vinaigrette!) is the reduction in brightness at the edges of the image compared to the centre. It helps to draw the eye into the centre of the image by just slightly darkening the edges. The results of adding a vignette aren’t drastic but do make a difference. Adding a vignette is the only thing you can’t do in Pic Monkey.
5. THE FINAL IMAGE
Viola! You’ve brightened, saturated, contrasted, cropped and vignetted. Look at the difference! All it took was a minute and (in my humble opinion) it’s made the world of difference.
You may have noticed these flowers look very dewey. I always have a cheap water sprayer in the kitchen to make flowers or fruit look great when photographing them. It’s a nifty trick that comes in useful. Also, you know we discussed cropping? This is the same image from above just cropped in.
If you want flowers or plants to have an outside look to them then try photographing them in front of a garden window, or even open a window, zoom in and keep the background blurred. This way you don’t actually have to venture outside for your photography in these chilly almost-spring months.
Do you have any post processing tips and tricks to share with us?
This post first appeared on Tots100