20 March 2014

Random bits and how I edit my photos

It's anything but Spring-like on this first day of Spring! A cold, blustery wind is scattering snow flurries around which, thankfully, are not adding up to anything. But yesterday, there were two rabbits scampering about my front garden and a robin sitting on the fence chirping merrily away. Today, a pair of mourning doves are attempting to build a nest on our front porch. Unfortunately, the winds are scattering their building materials as fast as they gather them.  I'm taking this to mean that warm weather is coming!

As I mentioned in my last post, I thought I'd walk you through my editing process. I used to literally spend hours on each photo, running photoshop actions and applying texture upon texture. Now, I spend 2-3 minutes editing a photo.

Here is my image SOOC (straight out of the camera).  All I've done here is cropped it square.  I usually crop my photos either 5x7 or square.

I use Lightroom 4 to edit my photos.  At first I found LR intimidating but after taking Kim Klassen's Round Trip class, it began to make sense and I don't know how I edited photos without it.  I wish I had discovered LR when I first started photography.

My typical LR edits include:  increasing the exposure (if necessary), lowering contrast, lightening shadows and lowering vibrancy and/or saturation.  Lowering the contrast, saturation and/or vibrancy gives my photo a softer look.  My camera tends to read reds and oranges very strong so I'll often reduce the saturation more for those colours.

That's pretty much it for LR.  Sometimes that's all the editing I want to do.  Other times, I want to add a texture or apply an action to further soften the photo so I make the final edits in Photoshop CS5.

Here's my final version.  In CS5 I used a couple of Florabella actions - Soft Centre Light and Light Haze.  I usually lower the intensity of the actions then, using a layer mask and a soft brush (opacity about 30%), I mask off the areas that I want to stand out.  In this photo, it was the primroses and the flowers on the tea cup.

You can see the progression from SOOC to LR to CS5 in the photo about.  Nothing drastic but you can definitely see the difference.

Sometimes I'll apply a texture instead of using actions to get that hazy softness.  If I do, my blend mode is usually Soft Light with an opacity of around 55-75% (sometimes even higher).  Again, I'll use a layer mask and a soft brush to remove the texture from the areas that I want to emphasize.

My favourite actions are from Florabella Collection.  I use some of her textures too but Kim Klassen's textures usually give me the soft look that I'm trying to achieve.  If you're not already on Kim's mailing list, make sure you sign up.  She's very generous and regularly sends free textures to her subscribers, which is a good way to try them without spending a fortune.

So now you know all my secrets.  :)

I'm not familiar with the free editing programmes that are available (like PicMonkey) but you could probably make some of these edits using them.  Any programme that uses layers will allow you to use textures.  Again, if you have any questions, ask away!



  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Lynda, and I really love this photograph.
    You have such a talent for styling your images.

    Not at all spring-like here today either. :-(
    Brutally cold and windy.
    Hopefully things will change soon.

    You have a wonderful evening, my friend. xo.

  2. If you find another comment floating about... yup, lost one earlier in the day. I imagine you have lots of tricks that we'll never learn, but I hope to employ some of these tricks soon.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your process. Do you sharpen your photos at all? Do you lower contrast and saturation on every photo or just on those with bright colors? My problem is wanting to know I'm doing it "right" and not simply trusting how it looks to me.

    1. I rarely sharpen my photos in post-editing but I always try to only use photos that are tack sharp to begin with. I usually lower the contrast about 95% of the time but I don't think I ever increase it anymore. When I do lower it, it isn't extreme. Probably around 10% at the most. I tend to lower the vibrancy more than the saturation; again between 5-10%. If the colours are already soft enough, I'll leave the vibrancy/saturation alone. But yes, it does depend on the photo and the look I'm trying to achieve.

      I don't think there is a "right" way! :) Ask 3 photographers how they shoot and edit and you'll get 3 different answers. A lot of photogs say to always increase the contrast and the saturation. As I said in my first part, learn the rules then break them. :)

  4. Beautiful images as always, Lynda...your way of styling your images is always brilliant. Your workflow sounds very similar to mine...lightroom, then I use PS Elements to add those extra touches like textures or an action. Kim and Florabella are also two of my favs.

  5. I came over from Vee's blog, and I admire your photos and your skill. I might even learn something here to improve my own photos. It could happen LOL.


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