Westminster fountain at sunset

by Jorge Córdoba

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When I shoot a photo and load it into my image editing software and start playing with curves and sliders, sometimes I go so far. For example I increase the saturation and I keep increasing it till it doesn't look so good cause the photo becomes very saturated and unnatural, but I don't feel that till someone take a look and says that colors are too strong or I go away for sometime and come back to look at the photo and I say to myself what I was doing! It's too way saturated. Same goes with exposure, clarity, sharpness, ....

So when should I stop myself and say that's enough? Should I always review my photos after editing them by a day or two? Sometimes I can do that but sometimes I have to print the photos and I need to get them done. Any techniques that can help in this situation?

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2 Answers 2

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I've found a useful technique is to switch between the original and the edited version. By doing this even minor changes sometimes look drastic, which could work against you sometimes, but it's a perfect representation of just "how far" you've gone with the edits. You can see how true you're staying to the original photograph and how unnatural things start to look even if that is your intention.

Taking time away from the photo as you mentioned is a really great method too, but as you said their isn't always time for it. With the same idea in mind, if you have other photos to edit you should move on to them once you're a point you're happy with on the current picture. Once you've gone through editing all the photos, start at the first and work your way through again. That should give a little reset time on each photo.

What exactly "too far" is, is up to you as the artist. But I mainly use the first technique as a gauge to see just how much editing I've done.

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+1 for "I've found a useful technique is to switch between the original and the edited version. By doing this even minor changes sometimes look drastic" –  akram Mar 28 '12 at 20:08
    
THis is my approach too. It can be achieved in photoshop by two methods: while in a single effect or adjust dialog: repeatedly toggle the "preview" checkbox sou you can compare what you are doing to the image against the image without that adjustment. Also, work on a duplicate layer leaving in the background an unaltered original, thus by hiding the edited layer you can compare with the original. Also a hint: Use as much effect or adjust as you like but without others noticing what you've done ;) –  Jahaziel Mar 29 '12 at 22:14

I think this is a very subjective issue. In my personal view, I usually adopt one of two instances:

  • If I want to keep a "natural" feeling to a shot, I tend to increase the sliders until the change is noticeable and then back them some notches.

  • If, on the other hand, I'm into a more experimental mood, I usually tend to crank the sliders until the results are clearly not natural. For example:

A Bowl of Sliders

My point is to let it clear to the viewer what I'm proposing with the image, to show something that happens outside my head (that may have needed some tweaking in order to get closer to what I think the scene looked like), or to show something that is related only to whatever happened to be passing by my mind during the creation of the resulting image.

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I agree with you –  J. Walker Mar 28 '12 at 23:33

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