Retouching

Ahhhhh.... Retouching and editing. The age old topic. Do you edit in Photoshop or Lightroom? What filters do you use? Where do you get your presets? How many actions do you use? How do you get your images to be so clear? What camera and lens do you use? JPEG or RAW? Blah blah blah. To get all of those questions out of the way here are my answers:

  • I use both Photoshop and Lightroom on almost all of my photos. There are things that one can do or does better than the other and vice versa.
  • I don't use filters or presets or actions. If it appears that there is a filter, it is a combination of different layers of settings being changed; exposures, contrasts, colors, gradients, blurs, and so on. In other words... All of my 'filters' are done manually, varying based on the individual photos needs.
  • My photos are clear because I have an awesome camera and an array of carefully selected awesome lenses based on my needs.
  • I use a Nikon D600 and a Nikon D4s with a Nikkor 50mm f1.4, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8, Nikkor 105mm f2.8, and a Nikkor 85mm f2.8.
  • I shoot RAW and only RAW. If you're not shooting RAW than you need to start.

Recently I traded some screen cap videos with a dear friend of mine to learn more about each other's editing practices and it sparked an idea. Well, more of a change in mentality. So I decided I would share the video I made for him with you all.

  

It seems that over the course of my photo career I have found that most of my peers are very secretive about how they edit their photos. I was for a while too... you know... trade secrets and what-have-you. But I came to the realization that it doesn't matter. Sharing my methods helps my peers to learn and get better, and hopefully get better than me so that I can eventually learn from them. And hopefully it encourages people who are better than me to share their methods so that I can get better, much like my dear friend did for me recently. 

But first, my philosophy on retouching and editing.

I try to do as little retouching as I can on any given subject. Not only to save time, but to keep the photo as close the original as possible, unless of course, I meant for it to be more manipulated when I took it. Sometimes I take photos with the intention of them being heavily edited.

Over the course of my career, and even on a project to project basis, my editing style changes drastically. I am constantly learning and changing and trying new things and trying to get better.

That being said, here are a few examples of my editing and a step by step video of my Photoshop retouching process.

For those of you who are just starting out and looking for some advice, my advice would be do your own thing. Find your style and grow from there. Take some techniques that methods and make them your own. Everyone shoots differently so there is no guarantee that things that you find on the internet or from your peers will work for your shooting style. But the thing I cannot stress enough is that you can always be better. Never settle. Never let yourself believe that you are as good as your are going to get. You can always grow and change and get better if you let yourself. Stay humble my friends. I hope you enjoy.

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