Easing into Photoshop

Monday, October 10th, 2011 7
Posted in: Nature, Photoshop, SOOC

If you’ve stopped by Life Refocused before, you probably know that I’m a “straight out of the camera” (SOOC) photographer. Almost every blog entry is tagged “SOOC” as approximately 99.9% of the images I’ve shared up to this point have been completely unedited. Over the past few years, I’ve been really working on honing my photography “in camera,” trying to capture what I want for the composition, white balance, depth of field, and anything else about the image right then and there. And, I believe working in this way has improved my skills as a photographer.

Just because I have been working in this way doesn’t mean that I’m a hater of Photoshop. It just wasn’t yet part of my photography toolkit — by choice. And I knew there would come a time when I would start easing into it, and that time seems to be now. I am also well aware that Photoshop isn’t simply a magic wand (although there is a “magic wand” tool!). That is, you must have a strong image to begin with in order to make improvements or adjustments in Photoshop. As well, Photoshop can help but it takes a great deal of skill and creativity with the software to know how to improve an image.

I’ve begun dipping my toe in the Photoshop pool as part of taking Tracey Clark’s Art of Composition class. One recent exercise included examining a photo for possible additional photos within that image. Kind of like a training exercise for your eye to see mini-compositions within an already existing image.

I decided to use the top photo that I shot a few months ago while driving around the back roads here in the Midwest. Then I looked for little images that I liked within that photo, and cropped those out. These three smaller images are some of those mini-photos.

It’s a very interesting exercise. I can already see the ways in which it’s helping me both widen and narrow my frame as I have been out shooting as well as looking back through previous photographs. Here is a compilation of all three cropped vignettes and the original photo.

I’m enjoying this easing into Photoshop. It remains to be seen how much I’ll fall down this potential rabbit hole, but for now, it’s fun to use editing as a tool to improve my photography and the way I compose images in the big picture.

What about you? Do you use Photoshop or some other photo-editing program? What do you typically edit in your images? PS–other than cropping parts of the original photograph, nothing has been edited in any of these images.

7 Responses

  1. Rod Adams says:

    I’ve been slowly using PS also. You can take an image and make it look flawless if you want. Mostly I just use it for cropping, and adding a little bit more contrast occasionally. I don’t want to be a photographer that spends more time in post production than I did in acquiring the image.
    There is a LOT to learn in Photoshop too! It is an interesting journey though.

  2. Celina says:

    Beautiful, beautiful images!

  3. Melissa says:

    Love the idea of finding photos in photos. Can’t wait to see what else you learn in the workshop!

  4. Phoe says:

    I use Lightroom and Photoshop. I try to make each image as good as I can but sometimes the best image could use a little help. I especially find that my camera underexposes like whoa. That’s a quick fix in LR.

  5. ChetG says:

    I use Photoshop almost everyday. We’ve discussed my current uses before, but I also take advantage of it’s other abilities. However that is just at work. At home I use The GIMP, I know that sounds really bizarre, but it’s free and open source. I use it for everything from photo editing (cropping, retouching, etc.) to creating graphic elements for web stuff I’m working on.

    Finally, I thought you’d at least get a kick out of this: Photoshop to End Blurry Photos Forever!

  6. Kim says:

    Reading this post has made me realize what a far cry my photography (or at least my ‘workflow’) is these days compared to back before I ever even dreamed of owning a digital camera. When I shot exclusively film, I almost prided myself on never editing my photos… But I was also young and didn’t stop to realize that every one of my photos was being edited every time I took my negatives to a lab and they color corrected it, etc! Then I went to college and learned the joys of the darkroom and that’s when editing really started to open up for me.

    Once I learned how to use Photoshop, there was no turning back. I use it every single day… I don’t know what I’d do without it! I mostly just do simple edits that I can’t do in-camera – like deepening my blacks, recovering my highlights, or boosting my contrast. Lately I’ve been pushing myself to shoot in all manual mode, so some adjustments to exposure have been called for, too. 😉

    Congrats on your exploration of Photoshop. I hope you have loads of fun! Even if you don’t use it all that much, it’s definitely a great tool to have under your belt.

  7. Hi Meghan! My name is Hilary and I’m visiting from the BYW class. I love not only the photography you share here on Life refocused but also your commentary along with it. Today’s post has actually made me think about weening OFF of Photoshop myself. I don’t think I abuse the tool (and it is an incredible tool) but I’d be interested to see how far I can get with only the camera. Thanks for inspiring a new experiment!

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