I am about to show you my early work in Photoshop.... now, be nice! Ok, and maybe put on sunglasses cos I blew these images right out!!! Yikes! Why highlight (hehe no pun intended!) my bad work? I believe there's a huge benefit, not only for me to see my own progression, but for anyone who was like me, just learning PS, getting all jiggy with the sliders, to see just because you *can* doesn't mean you *should*!!!
So it all started when I read a blog post by the lovely Melissa Beattie about looking back though your images and finding lost treasures. I thought, "Hey I should do that!" I have no one to photograph since I haven't re-opened business yet, and this will be a fab way to calm my 'I-have-to-shoot-something-soon' jitters. What I found, however, was less lost treasures and more quite a few really, really bad edits. When I was a hobby photographer, photographing my kiddos and family friends, I hardly ever left Lightroom. Once I started photographing actual clients, I knew it was time to learn the beast... and so I have self taught/ learned loads from CreativeLIVE & various online tutorials, how to use Photoshop. Although I do have a love affair with LR, I have to say learning PS is like being a kid in a candy store!! So many options and creative elements... a girl could just go crazy. But, like too much candy can cause cavities, too much PS can ruin a photograph. I see it all over Facebook each day... and I see it all over my own early work.
As I looked though my library, I found two glaring examples of over editing... and THANK GOD both were in my personal project collection! I should give a shout out to shooting in RAW at this juncture as well... a million reasons why it's the bomb, not least of which it allows us to re-edit a clean image. So, for these two photos, I went back to my RAW file for this session and opened them in LR (I am on a different computer than I was when I shot these). I didn't do too much in LR other than a little exposure gradient in the top left of the drumsticks photo.
I opened the LR export into PS and began with my usual bits... whiter teeth, high pass on the eyes, removed some stray hairs. Then I added a warming filter, some light vignetting, tweaked the levels a bit, added a sliver of surface blur, etc. What I *didn't* do is the more important element here: I didn't bump the exposure to nearly clipping, I didn't then also add a center light action (seriously...it hurts to type it!) and I didn't add a sharp vignette. So goodbye little girl looking like a stand up comedian with a blown out spot light on her, and hello little girl looking like... a normal little girl!
Is the new edit perfect... of course not! Perfect is subjective so I try not to hold myself to that imaginary standard... but I like it. I'm more comfortable with this reflection of my work. I am happy with the reflection of the progress I've made in my editing education. I dedicate one day a week to a workshop or a book on some element of my profession. This week is graphic design for dummies. Ok, not really, I added the "for dummies," but it does appropriately describe my design ability! It's a good feeling to see the fruits of that effort, and worth all the times I've made my self stop bulldozing and just learn.
The moral of the story: #1, Keep your RAWs. #2, Never stop making time for learning. If you can't afford workshops or classes, go to youtube. There is ALWAYS something else to know in photoshop unless you're Scott Kelby. #3, Be willing to re-assess your own work. #4, Don't make fun of my original edits (haha, just kidding! Make fun, they're pretty bad).
Ok, here's example #1:
And example #2: