Besides the most commonplace Photoshop botches, resulting in body curves from outer space or an inexplicable but equally disturbing loss of knees, there’s a lot of other, probably tamer (but nevertheless still cringe-inducing) photo editing mistakes that have the potential to get you savaged in the comment section. Here are a couple of too-easy-to-make mistakes that you should avoid if you want to strengthen your credibility and avoid sleepless nights thinking about your dark, photo editing past.
Note: None of the examples below are actually bad. In fact, they’re really awesome and somewhat indicate the direction you should take. Also, we didn’t want to use the same, overused imagery you’ve seen in countless similar articles.
Almost no one likes seeing themselves with spots and marks, no matter how human, natural and beautiful in our own unique ways these imperfections may make us. First off, perfectly smooth skin is a real sin of “noughties” photo editing. Secondly, part of our beauty lies in the texture, shadows, and other subtle details that a hasty tsunami wave of blush will sweep away in no time. We acknowledge that it’s almost too easy to go over the top with this one, but keep in mind that too much skin smoothing is probably the reason why most of the young photo editors working for magazines fail their probation periods.
Cropping the Heart out of a Composition
First things first, cropping can often be advisable and sometimes even necessary. However, the big difference lies in what the end-result is intended for, namely, whether you’re working for your enjoyment, or the picture is being paid for. The advice here is simple, of all the adjustments you need to make, leave cropping to last. You have to see the “bigger picture” before you cut a piece out of it and sometimes the correct piece can only be determined after all the editing has been finished.
Laser Blastin’ Eyes
It is only normal that we want our eyes to look striking, magical and glowing. However, there’s a fine line between the charms of Bette Davis and the force field of a Sith Lord. Here, we once again come to the most fundamental of photo editing problems – overdoing it. As with everything, nothing is necessarily all bad, the negative aspects only arise with excess. First off, try to highlight the eyes by carefully positioning the lights before actually shooting the picture. Post-production can rarely create the same magic as a perfectly framed shot can. Secondly, keep in mind, that eyes are not made of a solid white substance. If you try to colour them up as such, you’ll end up with something rather disturbing. And, although it’s tempting, you should also stay away from all kinds of “sparkle-in-the-eyes” effects. Again – it’s a very noughties school of photo editing, even when done professionally.
As with the star-struck eyes, most people will also strive to edit their teeth as if their pearly whites had absorbed all the available light in our universe. This is another trademark of an inexperienced photo editor and one that you should avoid like the plague. Why? Because it’s an instant indication of faking and lack of taste. Be austere and authentic ‘cause that’s what’s all the rage now!
Bad Shot at B & W
Now, turning your regular photos into monochrome fine art photography pieces is actually a very exciting process and can provide you with some unexpectedly astonishing results. Once again, however, it’s about what you do and how much. What should you definitely not do? Do not try to acquire the monochromatic effect through the desaturation of a photo. The result will be much more eye-pleasing if the tone shifting is done with the help of channel mixing. Although a considerably more complex route to take, it will give you a beautiful aesthetic reminiscent of that of world-renowned street photography artists. Another, much more simple and undeniably pretty option is, of course, the use of the VSCOcam application. But in any case, to avoid flat, lifeless imagery from the school of pseudo-artistic photography, don’t use the “desaturation; brightness; contrast combo”. Instead, operate with curves and levels. A hard, but a worthwhile lesson to learn!
And Last But not Least – Brutal Contrasts and HDR from Hell
Talkin’ about beginner’s mistakes. If there is a more popular duo of photo editing flaws than this one, then we’ll be damned. Both being beautiful features when used separately, and with a pinch of wisdom, they can create a brutal excess of colours and effects if mashed together within a single photo (except for this wonderful and smart defect-turned-into-effect example). Operating with HDR requires an in-depth knowledge not only of the editing software but also about photography in general, and unnatural contrast is another sign of “photoshop badass from the 2000’s” shtick. These days, it’s all about moderation, subtle hints and monumental minimalism, if you like.
So, these were some of the errors you should avoid if you don’t want to summon a storm of photo editing fanatics attacking you for ignoring the basic commandments of the game. My-Picture.co.uk wishes you the best of luck in your first creative endeavours!