For many photographers today, post-production or image photo editing is a fundamental step in their work, and knowing how to avoid the most common mistakes in photo editing has to become a practically native skill for anyone.
Of course, when you are starting in the world of photography, it can be much more difficult than it looks, perhaps because you may not know where you are going wrong.
So in today’s article, the following tips will help you to guide your creative process and avoid some exaggerations that can ruin your photos.
For this post I imagine that you are using Adobe Lightroom , but the idea here applies to any image editing software as the concepts will be the same, and the same errors when editing your images can occur in any image editing program.
5 most common photo editing mistakes to avoid
1 – Shadows too light, or too bright.
Always try to get the best possible exposure right on the camera. You will always have a better working base if your photos are displayed correctly. And it saves you a lot of work when it comes to production.
See more about exhibition here.
That said, you will often want to adjust things slightly differently from the original photo exposure. And the first point to be careful are the photo light controls, shadows, highlights, contrast and exposure, which will bring more clarity to your photo.
One of the most common mistakes in photo editing is not paying attention to adjusting the photo’s shadows. Adjusting the frames to make them too clear takes the depth of the photo and everything seems to be flat on one plane. Adjusting the shadows in excess, making them too dark, will make your photos gain more contrast, but there is a point where the dark regions of the photo become black, thus, containing no details or color information, just a dark soup.
To find the exact balanced point of the shadows in your photo look for a more natural look, with shadows similar to the shadows of real life, and from there manipulate in small increments so you don’t make one of the most common mistakes in photo editing .
In the examples above, we can see that the first photo has the light and dark regions of the photo much better balanced than in the second photo, where only the shadow control was adjusted in excess, bringing much more light to the dark areas of the photo and leaving the photo with surreal lighting.
Working with care you will get pictures with better contrast and depth. Avoiding this type of error in post-production will make your photos stand out from the crowd.
2 – Saturation
The saturation control can be your greatest ally, or your worst enemy, everything will depend on the context in which you will apply it. Small adjustments in the saturation controls can generate big differences in your images, especially when we are working with photos of people.
And when it comes to portraits, one of the most common mistakes in photo editing is not taking care of your skin tones. Always work with small adjustments and always compare before and after the adjustment, to create a solid reference of what you are doing.
Above are two more examples of how saturation controls can work against you and contribute to the most common post-production mistakes. Always try to balance these levels to give your images a more natural look.
And if you need to work on specific areas of the photo, such as just the yellow saturation, you can use the Lightroom HSL panel or localized adjustments with brushes or masks. The important thing is not to make this photo editing mistake and always look for a realistic reference of what is being exposed in the photo,
See more about Lightroom panels here
3 – Sharpness
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is taking pictures out of focus, as long as this is not intentional. I even easily accept a photo that is not so well exposed or composed, but photos that are out of focus when they should be in focus are unrecoverable.
First thing is more important in this step, never use the Sharpness controls to correct photos that are out of focus, this will not be possible. So, shoot in focus.
Learn more about focus here
But if your photo is in focus and you want to add more sharpness and detail, especially when we talk about specific areas of the photo, you can use the Sharpness control to your full advantage.
Again here you cannot exaggerate, unless you want a more surreal look in your photo, the sharpness control when used with care can help you a lot in getting the level of details you are looking for.
Remember that whenever you add more Sharpness to your image the possibility of you accidentally increasing the noise level of the photo is great, to say the least. So always use it with care especially if you used a higher ISO setting for shooting.
Learn more about ISO here
Don’t forget that exaggerated levels of Sharpness can be used as an artistic tool, for more surreal photos, so play with this control until you get used to it and be able to decide if a certain adjustment is correct or not for any photo. And from what I’ve seen out there, this is one of the 5 most common photo editing mistakes, no matter if you’re using a computer or cell phone to edit your photos.
The same goes in the opposite direction, taking too much sharpness out of a certain region, in this case I’m talking about portraits of people. Never use sharpness or blurring controls to correct skin defects or make the person’s skin look smoother and unmarked. These skin smoothing techniques with something you need without being done with great care so as not to disappear with skin texture and to maintain a still human appearance and not with a porcelain doll.
4 – Composition or clipping
Here the theme is very suggestive, and there is no right or wrong, because we are talking about composition. Of course, there are stronger compositions and others that are not so funny.
And in Lightroom you have a very important tool to refine your compositions if necessary, which is the cropping or cropping tool.
Learn more about cropping images here
With it you can not only eliminate elements that cause distraction to your photos, you can also change the presentation aspect of the image as well as adjust the horizon of the photo.
As there is no right or wrong composition it will always be up to you to define what is most important to show in each photo, and each one needs a different adjustment.
And if you are in doubt you can always change the adjustments that were made to the image and test a new composition, after all Lightroom makes non-destructive adjustments to your photos.
Learn more about composition here
5 – Exaggerated noise reduction
Perhaps this is where people most sin, as they exaggerate noise control.
If you are shooting in very dark environments and have difficulty getting good exposure, always consider using a tripod to help you not shake and be able to use lower shutter speeds.
This way you are sure to avoid noise in your photos and no need to use noise reduction programs or controls.
But if you still decide to use them, always use them with great caution. Excessive use of this control can destroy your photos, always making them look blurry and unclear.
Now that you know what are the 5 most common photo editing mistakes to avoid I’m sure that the next time you edit a photo you will remember them.
None of this is an absolute rule, and of course, you can use certain things as a creative tool. You can see the post-production process of a photo in full on the YouTube channel!
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