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A before and after look: why editing is magic!

Editing is one of my favourite aspects of being a photographer. Once a photo session is done, I cannot wait to get home and pop the SD card into my computer to see what I captured!

Taking a photograph is truly only the beginning. By shooting in RAW format, the file produced contains data that has not been compressed, encrypted, or processed in any way. In terms of possibilities a RAW image is like a blank canvas. Editing transforms the picture from what my eye saw, to the image in my mind's eye.

Over time, with lots of trial and error, I've found my personal style and preferred tools. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the programs I use the most, but many other editing programs and applications, even free ones, are available.

Here is a behind the scene look at some of my edits and the rationale behind them.

Creating a moody Black & White

I really liked the colours in this beautiful mom-to-be's home, but I wanted to create a more dramatic timeless image. I decided to increase the contrast between the light and shadows to remove distractions and to really make her stand out. That way, the viewer is drawn more strongly to the heroine and "glow" effect that surrounds her, without other distractions like the bed on the lower right side of the image.

Bringing out the colours

Sometimes big and puffy, other times dark and menacing, clouds can really transform the feeling of your image. During this fall day, the sun was shining bright. I decided to darken my image, also known as underexposing, to be able to retain details in the sky. Throught my editing, I brighten up my subjects' faces, added more contrast to the sky and brought up the saturation in the green and yellows of the grass to bring out their natural hues.

Sharpen, Sharpen, Sharpen!

With every photo, I always keep in mind the story I am trying to tell. To me, this image represents the best part of summer fun. Thanks to the sharpening tool, you can really put the emphasis on a specific part of your image. In this case, I wanted the viewer to see the drops of water falling through the air, feel them moving towards the little boy, just like they were there. The contrast of the black & white also centres the story on the main subjects; the colourful balls on the ground become details instead of drawing the eye away.

Small touches

In this photo, I was almost able to get the silhouette that I had envisioned straight from the camera. Editing can sometimes be composed of a few simple adjustments. After increasing the shadows to make the couple stand out, I was almost done! I used a clone tool to remove the traces of construction going on at Parliament Hill. Bye-bye car and street cones! My photo was now ready.

When you change your mind

A beautiful background like this sunset can create gorgeous silhouettes. For a silhouette to work like in the previous example, the dark outlines of the subjects' bodies have to be clearly defined so that it can stand out against the light. Since the little girl here was moving and wearing a big wooly scarf, it didn't turned like I had originally planned. Instead, I decided to brighten up the whole image and created something completely different than what I had in mind. Change can be both necessary and good!

Sometimes edits are so subtle that you can hardly notice them.

Last tip: never delete a photo directly from your camera, even if you think it's not perfect. It can often be salvageable. In this case, my off-camera flash released way too much light. Since it was my favorite shot from the series, I decided to edit and bring out the image that I had in mind.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions.

Have a great time telling your stories.

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