Boom! We dragged you in as you asked yourself "oh no, do I make these mistakes?" Well, the good news is you might take a breath and think, "Nope! I'm good", but even better you might see something here and become and better photographer.
We live in the digital era and sometimes, it’s hard to walk the fine line between adjusting your photos enough while not overdoing it. Winter, in particular, has its challenges for photographers: harsh light, confusing exposure, discoloured whites.
Often, what would otherwise be a good winter image, gets slaughtered when the photographer gets to work on post-processing the photo. Whether this is the "creative" choice of the photographer or just not knowing the ins and outs of the editing process the results are a dead give-away of amateur-looking images.
If you think you could be getting more from your winter images but you're not sure how, read on! Here are the most common amateur mistakes when it comes to editing (and how to avoid them!)
Winter photography can be tricky. Looking through the viewfinder when snow is present is bound to distort your perception of exposure (which is why it’s always a great idea to read your histogram!).
Underexposing can be caused by a couple errors. One being your shot was underexposed when you took it (common during winter) and the exposure never corrected in post-processing.
The other error we see is an image being underexposed in order to bring out the details in the sky, whether it is a nice sunset or interesting clouds. This mistake is also an easy fix and its called the "Gradient filter". When editing, you can add the gradient filter to your image and lower the highlights to bring out the details of your sky without killing the whole shot.
The photo on the left has good exposure while the photo on the right is underexposed.
To be honest, I'm not sure why photographers fall into this trap of overexposing their images when post-processing but its a dead give-away. My belief is that it could be to try and recover the details in the shadows and so the exposure slider is adjusted way too high.
It could also be that the image was overexposed when it was shot (and there is no recovering from that). Whichever the mistake is, take care to keep some detail in the snow when editing and double-check your histogram when out taking your shot.
The left photo has a good exposure while the right photo is blown out and over exposed.
Whether or not the result of this is caused by HDR (High Dynamic Range) editing or simply adjusting the highlight slider all the way down and the shadow slider all the way up, the result is an image with no contrast and takes the appearance of a bad painting, either way, this effect should be avoided.
If you are not sure what HDR is, then great you will not be making this error. Pheww!
If you are reading this and slightly blushing, even better! You are about to up your editing skills.
Often we need to take two images when we are not able to capture both the highlights and shadows in the same shot. Most commonly this will be a bright sky and dark foreground. So my tip to avoiding the horrible HDR effect is to "Exposure blend". So take two images, one exposed for the shadows (foreground) and one exposed for Highlights (bright sky). Then in post, avoid using an HDR program and instead overlay the two photos in photoshop, use a mask and either brush or use a gradient to blend the foreground and background into one seamless image.
Overexposed photo on the left, underexposed photo in the middle, and a good HDR image on the right.
Overrexposed photo on the left, underexposed photo in the middle, and a bad HDR photo on the right.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to spot an amateur photo is by the excessive oversaturation. All too often beginners upload their photos and get carried away with how saturated the photo can be. Over saturating a photo can be distracting from your main subject and makes the overall photo look cheap. Remember, just because you can saturate a photo doesn’t mean you should. Aim for a more natural balance by using the vibrance slider instead. The vibrance slider will increase the intensity of muted colours while keeping already saturated colours the same. Saturation increases the intensity of all the colours.
A good level of saturation on the left looks more natural than the heavily saturated image on the right.
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