Steps to Better Photography - Editing

Creating a Work Flow - The Essentials

No matter what type of file you shoot in, be it RAW, JPEG or even if it is a negative scan, these are the basic steps that I believe you should take every time you edit an image.

I use Adobe Photoshop but I believe that Lightroom has similar, if not the same, functions and features.
If your editing software doesn’t allow you to follow these steps, I would highly recommend updating your software to a program that does.

·         Open your file and ‘SAVE AS’ a TIFF.

This is so you are not damaging your original file and can go back to it as need be.

·         Duplicate Layer

This second layer is where you make your basic changes and adjustments. Again, this gives you an untouched copy to either refer to or to restore.

·         Remove Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic Aberration is the green and magenta fringing around subject matter that can occur. In Photoshop, you can find this feature under: FILTERS > LENS CORRECTION
Tick ‘Chromatic Aberration’

Remove CA.jpg

·         Straighten Your Horizon

This is part of the crop tool and I cannot stress how important this is. Unless you have a vista that shows the curvature of the earth, Horizons should be STRAIGHT.
Turn on Grid Lines in the view window if you do not have a sharp eye.
In the menu bar at the top, you will see what looks like a little suitcase, select this. Your cursor will turn into a right angle. At any corner of your image, move this angle up or down to straighten your image.

·         Fix Perspective Warp

Architecture, when photographed with a wide lens or view and/or from a low angle, will always require this step. The human eye doesn’t perceive the buildings as ‘falling backwards’ but the camera does.
Perspective Warp is not complicated and once you see the difference it makes to your architectural images; you’ll always use this tool.

In Photoshop drop down the EDIT menu and select Perspective Warp.

PW 1.jpg


This is a two-stage step.
First is ‘Layout’. When this is highlighted, pull an outline around the entire image.

PW 2.jpg


Once done, at the top left of your screen, choose the ‘Warp’ button.
Place your mouse over the top left corner point and slowly drag the corner of your image upwards and outwards.

PW 3.jpg


Do this slowly until the left side of the buildings are straight.
Repeat the step on the top right corner of your image.
You may find that you need to alternate sides until both are lined up correctly.

This step is why, when framing your shot, you need to allow room around your subject. You will lose a portion of your image. It also helps to make certain that you have at least one straight line in your shot that you can use as a reference point.

Once you’re satisfied with the perspective warp, tick to complete function. Then crop to original ratio.

Crop original ratio.jpg

·         Open Camera Raw

Adjust your highlights, shadows, exposure, vibrancy etc as necessary.
This adjustment should be just the basics. This is not the layer to add any ‘creative’ adjustments.


Camera raw.jpg

·         Duplicate Layer

This third layer is what I rename my ‘working’ layer. This layer is where I will start to make more creative editing and adjustments if I feel my image needs it.
This is the layer where you start to inject your own editing aesthetic.

Be sure to always create new layers with each step and rename them with the change you have made. Then you have a reference to be able to duplicate that style on other images.

Once I have finished my editing;
* I save the TIFF with all the layers separate.
* Using ‘SAVE AS’, save a copy as a JPEG at Full Resolution.
* Once saved, I add a discreet watermark and change file size. I will always change the height of the image, no matter what orientation the image is, to 1080px. Then using ‘SAVE AS’ again, save as a JPEG in a separate folder named Web or Watermarked
* Then close the file with NO change to your TIFF.

This small resolution image with watermark is the file I use to publish online. This size file won’t slow down your website or take too long to upload. While people may still be able to download and print your image, they will be limited to a small print size.

Some EXTRA Points of info to keep in mind.

Once your work is online, you will not be able to stop people from downloading and sharing your images. So only publish low resolution versions.

JPEG files deteriorate over time, especially if they are frequently opened. This is another reason to have four versions of an image.
1, RAW – Original
2, TIFF – Edited but in a non-destructive way
3, JPEG – Full Resolution for any prints
4, JPEG – Low Resolution with Watermark for online Publishing.

If you are using your Phone Camera, these editing steps can and should still be taken. Except for Remove Chromatic Aberration as I have never seen this issue in an iPhone shot.
I use Snapseed when I edit in phone. It is a free app and compatible with IOS and Android.

Just remember that unless you are a documentary photographer, HAVE FUN and apply your own aesthetic. Be original, create your own art.

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Bella @ Photo Tours Edinburgh