Photography is about so much more than just getting the right shot. Yes, capturing that perfect photo is an important part of it but, fortunately or unfortunately, no camera in existence at the moment can replicate what your actual eyes can see.
Your eyes see colour in such a vivid way, it adjusts itself to make the most of the light available and generally photos just need a little extra help to get them to a point where they seem as close to what your eye can see as possible. This is where editing comes in!
Then, of course, there’s the whole ‘artsy’ side to photography… You know – trying to use a photo to tell a story or to capture some emotions. Typically with travel, you can’t really control the subjects being photographed (not like say in a food or fashion shoot) so this artsy edit in travel tends to be one that looks to reflect (or perhaps even amplify) that ‘feeling’ or emotion you had when you took the photos. (If you were excited, pops of colour would work here, if you were exhausted, perhaps you’d go more muted… etc).
Long story short; photos need editing after you’ve taken them – as a minimum this could be just so they reflect what you saw with your own eyes or you could take this even further so that you can tell a great story with your photos.
This post is going a step further by showing you how you can edit the exact same photo in 5 different ways and get a totally different take on the same photo, hence showcasing why editing (and the edit choices you make) do matter and I guess, the power behind editing your photos.
There are, of course, so many other ways you can edit any photo but we’re just going to go through some, which in our experience, are pretty surefire winning ones.
The photo we’re going to use for this is one of a Scottish Highlands cow taken with the Pixter Wide Angle Pro lens, used to get in as much of the scenery as possible around our hairy subject.
1.) The Muted Edit
This one works best with photos taken on grey cloudy days. Almost every photographer out there will tell you about the importance of having great light, which when you think of travel, tends to mean sunny days. Seeing as none of us can control the weather, you basically need to make the most of whatever weather you’ve got and we’ve found that this style of edit tends to work on darker (perhaps, wetter days) – which are a lot trickier to edit than sunnier days. Our motto when it comes to travel photography has always been to ‘lean into it’ and this is the perfect way to do so when the weather isn’t as ‘great’ as you might like it to be on your travels.
How? To do this, lower the temperature (go colder instead of warmer, reduce the saturation but increase the vibrance so you don’t lose the colours… a bit of grain added to the picture also helps too).
2.) The Vibrant Edit
This is the most obvious one of the lot! It’s all about amp’ing up that colour. This doesn’t always work for every type of photo (you don’t want neon green grass or blisteringly blue skies) but when done right – this tend to look more and more like what your naked eye would see.
How? Simply increase the saturation. Increasing the light is also helpful here (i.e. increase brightness) and, if possible, try to remove noise.
3.) The Black and White Edit
On the face of it, this sounds like another obvious one but making an image black and white isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. For starters, there are so many directions you can go with a black and white photo. A portrait photo, for example, would require a higher level of contrast and clarity to bring out key features in faces (perhaps with very little noise) however adding fade and grain to a photo (with lower contrast) would be a great way to edit an apartment photo. Additionally, it’s always worth remembering that black and white photos don’t work in every instance. If you are fascinated by the colours of the rainbow mountains of Peru for example (or the Museum of Ice Cream), black and white photography would do these photos a great disservice as they would be nowhere near as powerful (visually) as their colourful counterparts so it’s always worth making the right judgment call when it come to these things.
How? You could just switch to black and white and start toying around with the brightness, contrast , clarity…etc from that point onward. Alternatively, switch saturation to zero and then play around with high and then low vibrance (and temperatures too) and see what results you get with your photos.
4.) The HDR Edit
This one is a bit of a weird one and needs a solid judgement call. HDR, which stands for High-Dynamic-Range (apologies if I just explained the obvious here), essentially makes photos much sharper and crisper than they’ve been. They’re several ways this works but the end result is supposed to make the image more like how it looks like when they’re seen through the naked eye. On your camera or phone, HDR works by taking a series of images (usually at different exposures) and then combining them to create one image. When you’re editing however, creating a HDR effect has more to do with sharpness tools, clarity, contrast, highlights and shadows. Thankfully HDR settings are available on most editing apps and are usually one-click settings but it is worth remembering that HDR can make an image look very strange indeed if over-used. Best use of HDR edits is when the image isn’t particularly crisp (or could do with some sharpening or contrast e.g. a stone castle). Worst use is for images that are meant to be softer (e.g. flowers in sunshine… unless if used moderately).
How? Like I mentioned before, either use the HDR setting on most photo editing apps (and adjust strength of that edit) or play around with sharpness, clarity, contrast, highlights and shadows till you get the sharp crisp effect you want.
5.) The Colour Fade Edit
The colour fade edit is one that works particularly well when the image in question has a general colour pattern about it (e.g. a photo of the rolling hills of Wales – even though green isn’t the only colour here, it’s the predominant colour). This edit effectively involves the use of fade (sorta like a slight white-wash over the photo, and a single colour overlaid on the fade). There are lots of colours you can use but remember, certain colours work best with other ones. For example, Green (fade) on a predominantly Green (photo) would be an obvious clear win, Green on Blue would also work quite well but Green on Red would start to give you strange results.
How? Use the tint tool and the fade too to recreate this. Alternatively, you can get filters or edits on apps that come with a set amount of colour fades to do exactly what you’d like. For this example, I’ve used a green colour fade on the original image.
Other examples of the 5 edits using a different photo
Another example here is this insect photo taken with the Pixter Macro Lens on a hiking trip in Austria, to capture a small subject with a large amount of detail. Here it is edited the 5 different ways.
As you can tell, I’ve used the same editing style for a totally different type of photo and hopefully, you can see now why editing the photo in a different way can truly transform your photography and take it to a whole different level.