Isn’t Facebook time hop great?! Every day I get to see the last seven to eight years of my photography. Like almost every photographer, I sucked when I started out. My actual composition and use of the camera weren't too bad, but my post-production was horrendous. The best way to describe the post processing is “heavy-handed.”
Taste in post-production differs wildly, although I am a firm believer that some things should be left well alone. Here is my list of editing faux pas and blunders to avoid.
Color Isolation and Selective Color
Over here in the UK during the 1980's, Elton John released a handful of music videos using color isolation. For those who are unfamiliar with this technique, it is where you make an entire picture black and white, apart from a selected item which you leave in full color. If you are doing this, unless a client is paying you good money, stop right away.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) images are where you stack together multiple exposures when the camera's latitude can’t hack the scene before you. It is a great tool for photographers who use digital cameras, it also works really well for film photographers with low or mid-range scanners. Nevertheless, taste should be applied to the process. Ideally, you shouldn't know that HDR has been used without some careful inspection. The post-processing should rarely have more impact than the image itself. What I tend to see are HDR images where it appears to be a single file with the shadows fully opened up, the highlights crushed and then for the ultimate in editing faux pas, the clarity and vibrancy slides are cranked up to 11.
The Whites of Eyes
The whites of peoples eyes are not white, please don’t make them bright white burning orbs in post-production. It is terrifying. As soon as a friend pointed this out to me, I suddenly and very embarrassingly saw the error of my ways.
I think this is something that everyone goes through at some point in their photography. Cropping thin slivers of images, slightly off 6x6 square formats and generally trying to fix poor composition in post. I find for most applications, sticking to your cameras natural aspect ratio is best.
“Soften Skin” Brush in Lightroom
At some point, we have all thought about getting into airbrushing and for us novices in the post-production world, Lightroom has created a “Soften Skin” brush. I was thrilled to find this. What followed were two months of portraits where I had taken the clarity to -100 and removed any detail, contrast, and texture that my poor subject's face naturally, and beautifully had. If you use this, use it lightly and sparingly. Better yet, head over to Photoshop for some frequency separation.
What else should we add to the list?