The Importance of Editing Your Photographic Images

You’ve just spent the weekend at your favorite beach and you brought your new digital SLR camera hoping to capture that perfect sunset. When you bring it home and open it up on your computer, it just doesn’t look like the scene you saw on the beach.  Now what do you do?

You need to learn editing techniques to enhance the quality of your photos.

Lightroom Class in Camarillo, CA with

As photographic workshop leaders, we spend many hours out in the wilds of California photographing nature’s beauty.  We have good quality cameras, and we know how to use them.  We know our composition and creativity tools and we have the ability to come back with a decent picture, whether it comes from an iPhone or a quality DSLR.  What every digital image needs even if it was taken with a high end digital camera, is editing in a quality Photoshop type program.

When we are photographing in nature, it’s important to capture the essence of the scene.  It’s imperative that the light is good and the composition is top notch. Everything needs to be as good as possible coming out of the camera, because that will mean less time will be spent post processing. I don’t believe in taking random shots and hoping that I can fix it later on in Photoshop. (The spray and pray technique doesn’t work, unless you like culling through 1000’s of images.) I probably can fix 90% of my images in Photoshop, but it is not my intention to spend my life editing images, and believe me, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that a camera can only read so much light.  The range of light that a camera can see is different from the amount of light that human beings can see with their eyes. So, it would only make sense that to make up for the difference, Photoshop and Lightroom can take over and make that image pop and reflect what you really saw.

Lightroom Before After Big Sur

So many people say to me that they feel it’s “cheating” to use an editing program. If the camera can’t see what you are seeing in the first place, how is that cheating?  What we are doing is enhancing the original scene. Many people overdo the saturation, or sharpening filters because they haven’t learned to “see” when it comes to post processing.  It takes some time, and work on a lot of pictures to learn what is good processing and what is overdone. Just because it has bright colors or a fancy filter, doesn’t make it a good picture or a good editing job.

So how do you know if you have overdone your photo editing?

I would err on the side of not enough adjustments, rather than take it over the top when you first start. If you see artifacts, or strange halos in your editing, you know you have gone too far.  Take a close look at the color, does it look close to the original scene you shot? Compare your edited version with the original version.  Were the colors there, and you enhanced it just a bit?  Or did you create some unnatural colors in a scene just to make it pop? If the image needs over saturation to make it interesting, take another look.  What would it look like without those adjustments?  Would it still be a compelling image?  That ’s the important concept here.  Be sure that your image is a knock out before you spend time adding any extra filters or sharpening to it.  Sorry, no amount of filters are going to make it a good shot.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Class, Camarillo, CA

What are my editing programs of choice?  If I’m shooting with my digital SLR, my go to program these days is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  I feel like it is a fast a light version of Photoshop and I can get 90% of my editing done with this program.  I have been using Photoshop now for over 15 years, and I never thought that I would change my choice for editing, but Lightroom has me hooked.  It works fast and easy and has a very intuitive way about it.

If you would like to learn more about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and you are in the Ventura County, CA area, we run Adobe Photoshop Lightroom classes regularly in Camarillo, CACheck the schedule to find the next class.

If you would like to learn more about shooting, exposure and composition, Jansen Photo Expeditions runs a variety of different photo classes in the field for beginner to advanced photographers. Join us for our next trip to the Channel Islands, Big Sur, Yosemite or Iceland.  We also do private workshops for individuals or groups to your destination of choice, guaranteeing you will come home with some great memories and a prized collection of images. Check out our schedule at:

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Holly Higbee-Jansen

Co-Owner and Workshop Leader at Jansen Photo Expeditions
I am a passionate photographer and workshop leader, and I have been exploring my fascination with light since I was a young child. As a co-owner and guide for, I love taking our small groups of clients to beautiful places to help them explore their photographic creativity. Join us on one of our photographic workshops in the American West, Iceland and Central America: or take one of our online photography classes.  Live life creatively!  Reach me by email at:
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