Sunday, May 26, 2013

Revisiting Editing

Two years ago, I took a gig that I was completely unprepared for. I knew absolutely zero about wedding photography, but when two of my friends asked me to take their wedding photographs, I accepted the challenge.

You can read more about the challenges that I faced during the event itself in my blog from the day, and you can read more about the couple in the post that I intend to write later this week, but this is not what this post is about. This post is about how I have changed in the last two years as a photographer - how my process has changed and, more importantly, how my outlook has changed.

About two months back, I decided that I needed to include more of the wedding photography from this first shoot on my website, and I started going through my photographs to try and find some more of the shots to add. And, I am not sure how it happened, but all of the edited photographs were gone with the exception of the few that I had already put up of the wedding. The originals (all 700 odd of them) still lay in a folder on my laptop, taunting me. And, after a long while, I decided that it was time to re-edit the photographs. Without any guidance in terms of how I had originally edited them, I was left to my own devices and, looking back on it now, I think that was the right way to go about the re-editing process. I didn't bother comparing the original edits with the final cuts until everything was done, and I ended up with a complete set of photographs rather than one that feels disjointed. In my mind anyway.

Some of the photographs ended up looking fairly similar with just small changes, but some looked entirely different. So I thought that I would put together some comparisons and see what other people think.

From left to right, this picture shows the original image, the first edit and the second edit. I have focussed on the bride's face throughout, though the second edit does show the full photograph.

Once again, I found that the biggest difference was with the skin tone that came out in a far more flattering manner in my second edit. The white balance was also more appropriate and the whole image felt more natural and less edited than my initial edit.

The picture above shows (going clockwise from the top left) the original photograph, the first edit, an edit with a Lightroom Aged Photo preset and the second edit without any presets. I added the Aged Photo preset to a number of the shots to form a separate collection as I felt that it worked well with the style of the wedding,

I felt that the most noticable changes in the second edit were with the colour of the dress and the skin tones which I felt ended up being more flattering.

This comparison has the same structure as above (original, initial edit, Aged Photo, second edit), and while I feel that the colour in the second edit is better in terms of the dress and the skin tones, it did lead to the sky being washed out more than I would have been happy with.

As with the first picture, this one shows a portion from the original, the first edit and the second edit. In this edit, the dress and the sky show the most significant change. For the second edit I chose to use a graduated filter which I felt brought out the storminess of the clouds providing a nice contrast to the image. But, at the same time, I'm not sure if it worked in the way that I had hoped.

Finally, we come to the images from the ceremony. I had the biggest pain with the ceremony because it was outdoors on a shady day under the cover of trees with no way to get the proper flash lighting that I would have hoped for. So, when it came to editing the ceremony photographs, I was underwhelmed with what came out of it and ended up providing the couple with few photos of the ceremony itself. With the second edit, I adjusted the clarity which I felt worked better for the situation, as did the Aged Photo look (in my mind anyway). So the above picture is a comparison of (from top left going clockwise) the original, the first edit, the second edit and the Aged Photo preset.

So these are just a couple of comparisons that I put together. All in all, though 738 photographs were taken on the day of the event itself, I ended up with 956 photographs including the preset edits, which I thought was a nice haul.

What do you think of the edits? Would you have done anything differently?

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