I never know when to finish my photo editing

Please look at the pictures full size against a grey background.

When I did post “The tactile expression of creativity” see andybeelfrps.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/the-tactile-expression-of-creativity/  Gabby from the good old US of A asked an interesting question in the comments.

Gabby gamaraca.wordpress.com/ asked “I never know when to finish my editing and when I look at your images I ask the same of you”!

So here is an expanded version of the answer I gave Gabby.

Hi Gabby thanks for asking an interesting question. The simple answer is, when it looks and feels satisfying to you. Perhaps a question to ask yourself is “have I achieved the highest potential for this picture?”

“Does the print sing or sag?”

There is a school of thought that says you should only do the least to make the result you are after. I will keep working on a picture until it says what I want it to say.

Gabby asked a perceptive question – for the picture below I had at least three different crops and as many differing versions of tonality. Some pictures are relatively easy to produce an expressive versions others are not.

Primarily editing is about balance of subject matter, dominance and tonality – the choice of highlight and shadow tones.

A good tip when editing is to flip the picture vertically and check that there aren’t any highlights in the wrong place or near an edge.

The feature picture of this post at the top here is a uncropped colour version of the original post.

The version below is as the former post with the foreground rock omitted because I felt they were too heavy.

I also did a version the featured the sky and less sand.There was also a version the that highlighted the texture of the sand in the foreground. In this version the small dark area in the bottom right hand corner is critical to the composition. I think this is my prefered option.

The picture in the post “After Mr WE Smith” was hard to control and process. It was also difficult to decide what chords of shadow contrast (as AA would have said in 1933) were required, and that was after a year of looking at it.

So what I think I am saying is that enlightenment when editing to reach a picture highest potential isn’t always a rapid and easy journey. The journey will more fruitful if you have a direction gleaned from the influences of other photographers work you admire and respect.

A big hello to all the new followers of my little blog.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2012


13 responses to I never know when to finish my photo editing

  1. Every image I produce goes through some editing process. And I have a blast doing it. This is one question that hits me often. It’s not that I feel it’s incomplete. It’s because most of the times I feel I can make it still better. I normally end up screwing the image. Then I restore it back to the point where I felt “I can make it still better”. However sometimes it actually turns out better.


  2. The real problem in presenting images is the control of the final display, and to a certain extent, apart from composition, tonal qualities, greys, etc. are a punt into no man’s land. With prints, it relies on the quality of the viewing light and for web/monitor work it relies on equality of calibration between monitors/projectors. I see much work here, where the images seem under exposed or over exposed, too saturated or under saturated but I also suspect some may feel the same about my images too – I can look at my images in different browsers and they look substantially different from one another.


  3. Tracie Louise says:

    It’s all completely subjective and a matter of personal taste. There is no right way or wrong way in art.


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Gabby you may have seen that their were 10 comments to this post. I think it’s worth me doing a post with all the comments so the collective knowledge is shared. Andy


  4. photosclosetohome says:

    One tip I received is that when you think you’re finished, go back and remove the last edit. I’ve also noticed the when I revisit old images, my re-edits are much different than the original edit. AA noted the same thing with his Moonrise photograph. Over the years the sky got darker.


  5. LensScaper says:

    Just doing some catching up and discovered I had never viewed this post. Ynys Cyngar – The Powder House. Great image, Andy. And my preferred option is the same of yours.


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