Six Signs You Are Over-Processing Your Photos

I'm sure we've all been guilty of over-processing our images from time to time. Have you made any of these six mistakes yourself?

It's all too easy to crank up the dial when editing a photograph, and while a lot of it boils down to personal preference, there are some editing conventions that are well worth following. Thankfully for us, educator and photographer Matt Kloskowski is back with another handy video on this very topic.

Even though the video focuses on landscape photography in the editing program ON1, the video still has lots to offer for those who do not shoot that kind of thing or use that particular program. Many of the suggestions brought up in the video are universal to every single genre of photography, and the main culprits for over-processing images are tools which are present in all the major editing programs. Kloskowski shows good examples of what is over-processed and the ways you can fix those problems. Sometimes, it's just a matter of dialing things down a little, while other times, it's using alternative tools. I really like the advice about sharpening and how the shadow/highlight feature may not always be the best thing to use.

In addition to all his recommendations, I think over-processed images occur when we get too close to the work and don't give ourselves some space and time to actually "see" what we have created. Hopefully, the tips suggested in the video and a little dedicated screen break from time to time will help us to stop spoiling the pictures we worked so hard to make.

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19 Comments

Paul Adshead's picture

Just for fun here is the VERY over-processed image I made for the article.

Basically, I just moved all the sliders up to 100!

Paul Adshead's picture

hahaha it's a limited edition of one thankfully...

How many of us have Facebook friends who do exactly this and get tons of comments like "What an eye! So talented!". Saturation and HDR to 11. Within a week they're posting photos with a logo in the corner.

And started a new page. FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME Photography.

Paul Adshead's picture

very true Matt! Yet you never see FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_PLUMBER or many other professions using this naming structure...

Paul Adshead's picture

Best to ask them what camera they use! ;)

Maximilian Sulzer's picture

Looks good, like from a modern art museum

Paul Adshead's picture

it was fun to make it actually! Just ramp everything up to 100...

William Howell's picture

I check saturation by using the gamut warning: command, shift, Y.

Paul Adshead's picture

Never tried this but will give this a try, many thanks William!

Rifki Syahputra's picture

just set clarity to 100 before uploading to instagram

So many so-called "aviation photographers" should be banned from using clarity.

Paul Adshead's picture

many would agree Martin!

Paul Adshead's picture

you see this a lot! gotta be honest I use it sometimes!

Duane Klipping's picture

While I do not care for the example image personally, how one processes is their own choice on how they want people to feel about it. It is the artistic side of photography and their vision for the image. I see a lot of luminous images as late and they are good but quite obviously go beyond what they actually saw. Is this over done also?

Too many photographers get hung up on the word photograph and lose focus on the art of photography. My scene, my vision equals my style.

Darren Loveland's picture

That's a good point. I think a reflection of this is how people define themselves and their craft. Many of the "photographers" I see on social media would probably be better defined as "digital artists" not photographers.

Paul Adshead's picture

Excellent point Darren, early on in my career the label of "photographer" was important to me. Now it really isn't...

Paul Adshead's picture

Complelety agree Dunane, and you won't hurt my feelings if you hated my image above! I'd rather be called an artist that takes pictures than the other way around.

I do think there are some things which can spoil an image though and for that reason, it's worth knowing some conventions like the ones mentioned in the video. Even just to be aware of them.

Thanks for your thoughts