Sometimes I forget that not everyone is obsessed with photography. So when someone says, “Is that picture “photoshopped?” it throws me a little, because I recently realized that to some people (especially non-photographers), the term “photo editing” has a negative connotation, as if “photoshopping” always means altering a photo in a “fake” or unrealistic way.
Although that kind of extreme alteration of a photo can be a creative, artistic expression, and I’ll sometimes do that for fun, it’s not what I mean when I use the term “photo editing.” DSLR images often need some post processing, especially if you’re shooting in Raw. Even JPEGS can often benefit from some editing.
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Photo editing (which I usually do in Lightroom, but also PicMonkey) is simply quick editing of some simple aspects of a photo to “develop” it and make it look its best, in much the same way that back in my film photography days I chose a place to develop my photos.
For instance, the film processing at our neighborhood drugstore was always a bit off in color and exposure, vs. the processing at the camera shop nearby, who took the time to color correct and brighten the dark ones.
Point-and-shoot cameras usually have better straight out of camera images than DSLRs because point-and shoot cameras are already internally adjusted and don’t have the versatility of DSLRs in terms of settings. It’s more expected that DSLR images will be polished in “post.” Plus, a quick edit can save an otherwise unusable image.
See how subtle the differences are in the before and after shot of Sunny, below? In Lightroom, I adjusted the exposure, added some contrast, and sharpened a bit. Those are the edits I make most often. Sometimes more help is needed for a photo, especially if the exposure is way off, etc., but it’s best to try to get everything as accurate as possible “in camera.”
As you can tell, I edit simply. Occasionally I’ll whiten someone’s teeth a tad, but only an adult’s teeth and only slightly. No glowing teeth here. I might add a little vibrance to the color, if needed.
Even this kind of simple editing is subjective. Some people like a bright, “contrasty” image, while some prefer a softer, less vivid image. That is individual taste and art.
Picture Style and Picture Control
Do you hate to edit photos at all, or just want a head start?
No worries, if you have a DSLR, there are some adjustments that can be made within even the most basic DSLR that change the way a JPEG image looks straight out of camera (SOOC).
In Nikon, this is called Picture Control, and in Canon it’s called Picture Style. There are several basic settings from which to choose: Neutral, Standard, etc, and within those, some fine tuning of Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, etc.
These are fun to play around with, and the fine tuning can help you achieve the look you want, in-camera, without a lot of editing later. (P.S.If you shoot RAW, none of this applies, as a RAW image is completely unprocessed and needs more editing. RAW will give you the most control and will help recover badly exposed photos much better.)
Lightroom Lightroom is my favorite program for photo editing. I never really liked Photoshop because working in layers was confusing to me. (My brain doesn’t work that way!) Lightroom can be used very simply or in more depth, and I love the ability to use sliders to get quick fixes. I absolutely love Lightroom.
PicMonkey I realize, though, that you might be looking for something faster and more simple, without any learning curve. For a few dollars a month, PicMonkey is a great choice. It is so much fun, too. I also use it to create all of my Pinterest pins and all of my blog collages, so I am in PicMonkey several times per week. Plus, PicMonkey has templates for Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, and much more. And it’s easy.
Whichever editing program you choose, enjoy the process, and choose how much, or how little editing you want to do.