Every so often professional photographers claim that I am wrong to create Photoshop actions. They’ll argue that I enable photographers to fix or enhance photos that are not perfect in camera. I’ve even heard claims that I’m doing an injustice by teaching camera skills, such as exposure, white balance, and composition, alongside photo editing to correct images after the fact.
Why we teach photography and post-processing:
- MCP Actions sells editing tools that work inside Adobe’s products: Photoshop actions and Lightroom Presets. We also teach Online Classes for Lightroom, Elements and Photoshop.
- We believe that editing, combined with strong out of the camera photos, make for the best images.
- We are aware that not every photographer has the skills to capture ideal images in camera. In addition, certain scenarios make it difficult to achieve perfection. We teach how to edit, and we provide time-saving photo-editing products.
In the digital age of photography, we believe it is a combination of photography and editing that is important. For newer photographers it is imperative to learn your camera better. Get to know your settings, the exposure triangle, nailing focus, achieving better white balance, and composing images in a pleasing way.
Experienced professionals who are fed up with people using actions, presets and editing in general, to save photos, why not offer to help? No good comes from being mean to those starting out? Everyone starts somewhere; including you. If you don’t believe in editing as a means to improve a photo, you certainly have that choice. If that is the case, you may not benefit by following our blog, Facebook or Website.
My customers and blog readers range from those who have an iPhone/point and shoot camera to entry-level dSLRs to professional dSLR cameras and lenses. Some have been in business for decades and others are brand new to photography. Many are hobbyists who just love the act of capturing images. Everyone in the MCP Actions Community needs to respect that each photographer is at a different level and point in their photographic journey.
So why all the hype?
Most Fridays, I share a Blueprint on the blog – a before and after image with step-by-step instructions. Some images are strong to begin with, while others need “help.” When I post photos that need “saving” versus light enhancements, photographers often say, “they need to learn to get it right in camera.” I agree. But I also feel that they can edit and save the image in most cases too.
Recently, a trainee shared a photo of her son and his girlfriend in a MCP Photoshop Class. She knew it was way underexposed. But it was her son’s favorite image of them, in terms of the look and posing. She wanted to “save” it. So, is that wrong? Should she tell her son “sorry, but I failed to get proper exposure so you cannot have that one.”? She is not a pro. She is not selling her work. She just wanted this photo for her son.
Changes I’d recommend on the photography side:
In class we did two things. First we examined her settings and discussed what she could do next time to achieve proper exposure. Based on the “file info” you can see that the ISO was at 100, the aperture was f/4.0 (which is as wide open as the 70-200 4.0 can do) and the speed was 1/50, which is slow for a focal length of 89mm.
To fix this while shooting, she could have introduced a flash or reflector to add light to the subject. The brighter background in “portrait mode” tricked the camera. If a flash or reflector wasn’t available, I’d recommend using manual mode. Then, I would either spot meter on the skin or use test shots, while increasing the ISO. I would also increase the shutter speed to at least 1/ the focal length, but ideally 2/. Another option would be to use aperture priority and increase exposure compensation. With photography and editing, there are always many ways to achieve similar results.
Was editing this photo in Photoshop an injustice?
In the Watch Me Work Class, the attendee had one goal: make this photo usable. To do this we needed to correct exposure, alter color tones, and her son wanted his acne removed too. Additionally she wanted a slightly urban look, which was also doable. Here are the steps:
- Used Photoshop Actions from Bag of Tricks to fix the exposure – Magic Fill Flash at 100%, then used Magic Midtone Lifter.
- Flattened since pixel layers might cover each other up (from the fill flash). Then ran Sunburn Vanisher at 45% and Orange Skin Vanisher at 90% to help decrease red and orange tones in their skin.
- Flattened and then duplicated the background layer for retouching skin. Used the patch tool to remove blemishes. Then ran a Magic Skin Photoshop action called Powder Your Nose and painted it on sparingly on the woman’s arm and the boy’s face. Then flattened the photo.
- Ran MCP Fusion: Color Fusion Mix and Match – Set One Click to 51%, Lemonade Stand at 17% and Retro Surprise at 50%.
- Finished with a vignette from Fusion and the Eye Doctor action. And lastly a quick crop.
We also did a B&W version. For this, we used the color edit and ran Black and White Fusion Mix and Match. Since we did this atop a color edit, I turned off all layers in One Click’s folder except the Black & White. Then I activated Peaceful at 61%.
Here are the results:
And here is the black and white:
Now it’s your turn:
Thoughts? Questions? Do you feel it’s bad that I edited it? Remember this image is of someone’s child. Keeping that in mind, you are welcome to express your opinions in a nice way.
Would you like the chance to edit this picture? We do edit challenges on our Facebook Page. I have attached the details for this one here too. Download the image here, then edit and share on our facebook wall. You may also share and find other people’s edits on twitter and other social networks with the hash tag #mcpedit.