So since my last post on blog photography/backgrounds was so popular, I thought that I would share how I edit my photos. I use Photoshop CS6, so if you use a different program, some of these tools may work but others might not. I will say that it looks like a lot goes into it, but honestly most of the stages I do are tiny ones that make just a tiny tiny difference. The biggest change is in the brightness and the contrast, that makes a total difference and really brings a picture to life. Sometimes I'll have photos that take a lot more editing than others, if something I thought was in focus wasn't and needs a bit of sharpening, or if it's a dull day and even the flash isn't helping to a substantial level, but mostly it's the same. Anyway, I hope these tips help you out if you struggle with how to edit your pictures, I haven't included like a tutorial or anything so you'll have to know your way around Photoshop. A couple of the steps are for those more experienced with Photoshop too, but don't be afraid to give it a go as it's so easy once you know how, I can edit like 5 pictures in 2 minutes once I get going!
I use photo filters on pretty much every single photo I take, if I have a white background, a blue photo filter helps to bring out the white and stop it looking warm/grey as it makes it cooler. I only set the filter to 3% as that just takes the edge off without turning it actually blue. I also like to use this when I have my cream rug as a background as it seriously turns it from looking yellow toned to white toned which looks way way nicer.
You can used curves to brighten up a photo and darken it in certain areas, kind of like a brightness/contrast tool, but what it does is it brightens all of the shadows in the picture as well, making it brighter in every area which really brings out the natural lighting. I'm not a pro when it comes to this tool as I am more of a brightness/contrast and exposure fan, but I do tend to use curves a fair bit still. This tool also has an RGB setting, so you can select Red, Green or Blue and edit certain colours in the photo instead of all of them together.
Exposure is your best friend if you have a dull looking photograph. There's three stages in the tool itself, the first one is 'Exposure' which will either brighten or darken your photo, I never use this part to darken, only ever to lighten. The tiniest slide will totally bring out the light and it will make all the grey parts look white and crisp. The second one is 'Offset' and I'm not entirely sure how to explain what this does, but if you slide it down it will make the photo look really contrasted, and if you slide it up it will kind of do the opposite, but the tiniest slide of it up makes dark colours just look really nice combined with the third one 'Gamma Correction' which will make it look contrasted again but it's in like a more natural way. I'm really crap at explaining what things do, I just know they make pictures look better, all I can tell you to do is experiment with it and you'll see for yourself, that's how I teach myself everything.
I think everyone who's ever edited a photo is aware of what this does, you can brighten it, darken it, contrast it or de-contrast it. My best friends are the right sides, a tiny bit of contrast and a lot of brightness really makes all the difference.
Clone Stamp Tool
If there's a spec of fluff or dirt or just something you don't particularly like, the clone stamp tool will make everything better. All you have to do is hold 'alt' and click an area of the picture that is similar to the one you want to replace, then let go and click the brush in the area you want to cover up. Use a brush with 0% hardness so that it will blend in easily with the rest of the area.
The sharpen brush is perfect for an area of your photo that is the slightest bit out of focus. I like to use this on products I've photographed to make them more crisp and stand out. I also use this on makeup photography of my eye, it brings out the shimmer in the eyeshadow that the camera can't pick up that well.
So if you've brightened your photo, but an area of it is still a bit dark but you can't edit the rest of your photo without it being OTT, whip out the dodge tool brush and just go over the area you want to brighten. There's three settings, shadow, midtones and highlights, and each one will cover something different. So if you want to brighten the shadows, obviously go with shadow, if you want to brighten the highlights, highlight, and if you want to just brighten the overall area together, go for midtones.
If you've brightened your photo and one certain area is too over exposed and too bright, the burn tool is the same as the dodge tool but it does the exact opposite, darkens an area. So you can just go over the area that is too bright and it will darken it until it fits in with the rest of the photo. It has the same settings as the dodge tool, shadow, midtones & highlight. You're just using it to do the opposite.
Here's another example of an edited photo, I didn't use the photo filter in this one as I wanted it to look warm but it just shows you how these steps make all the difference.
I thought I'd also show you an example of how I edit my makeup pictures. I basically do all the settings I've named above, but I like to blur my skin a bit as it just looks nicer and more professional. I don't do it to be false, I just like to have nice photographs, and I'm not perfect so don't judge me ;) but anyway, this step is just really great for blurring out imperfections and it makes your skin look smoother. You do basically exactly this with makeup anyway, so it's no different.
First you duplicate the layer that you're working on and set it to overlay in the blending settings. Then go to Filter - Other - High Pass. Set this to about 10.0 pixels and click okay. Then go to Image - Adjustments - Invert. It kinda looks all foggy. Set the opacity of the duplicated layer to about 50% maybe lower, you want it to look natural. Then use the eraser to basically erase all parts of that layer around the face, and around the eye, nose and mouth area. So that layer is only on the parts of your skin, and that's it, it just blurs it the slightest bit to help hide things like pores and blemishes.
So those are pretty much all the settings I use when I'm editing pictures. I hope this helped some of you, or maybe you're just intrigued into how I edit mine compared to how you edit yours ;) Let me know what your main editing tips are!