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Three Unconventional Editing Tips

Do you ever feel that post-shoot dread when you open your laptop and realize you’re about to spend hours and hours messing with sliders to get the edit you want?

This can happen whether you have already nailed down the perfect style for your edits or are still trying to figure out how to consistently achieve the look that you're after.

Even for someone like me who has a formal education in photography and who actually enjoys editing, this task can often feel daunting. 

Editing can feel intimidating if you don’t know how to use Lightroom to your advantage or are unsure if the sliders you're moving are the right ones to achieve the look you're after. So I wanted to let you in on three little tips for Lightroom that may seem small, but can have a huge impact. 

Don’t rely too heavily on the basic contrast slider.

For some reason it's super tempting to always bump the contrast slider to the right to give our images more of a pop. But oftentimes, simply increasing contrast doesn't produce the desired result we want, and ends up with an image that looks overly edited or digital, and details and skin tones that look less soft. Personally, 99% of the time, I keep my contrast below zero, and instead add depth through adjusting the highlights, whites, shadows, and blacks, as well as the tone curve. Using these tools give you more control and precision in the editing process, and can add nuanced tonal range and depth in your image for a more natural look. 

EXTRA TIPS: For more contrast with the tone curve, try making a subtle "S" shape. For a little extra boost brightening your image and making it pop, bring the "lights" slider to the right in the tone curve panel. If your image feels like it's lacking detail, instead of adding more contrast or sharpening, try bringing "dehaze" to the right.

Get comfortable with HSL.

The key to getting a consistent look for your images is color tones, and this largely comes from the hue, saturation, and luminance (HSL). If you're unfamiliar with this panel, before you start editing actual images from shoots, try adjusting the HSL on a plain color swatch (you can screenshot different standard colors and import them into Lightroom) to see if you can achieve the palette you’re aiming for! Do this for all the colors until you feel comfortable with the adjustments and then practice on your actual images too!

EXTRA TIPS: Try using the dropper tool next to each section in this panel. You can hover over a specific are in the image and more your cursor up and down to adjust. If you want to check your work to make sure the hues in your edit are staying true to the natural color (eg. skin tones, color of clothing, etc.), hit "Y" on your keyboard to bring up the original image and compare. 

Use color grading to help balance your image.

Color grading (or split toning) is largely used to add a stylistic element to your edit. But you can also use this feature to balance out certain hues in your image. 
Example 1: if you have a white wall, but it doesn't look like a true white, and you can't balance it through the white balance sliders, try adding the opposite color to the highlights in color grading (eg. if the wall looks green, try adding magenta to the highlights).
Example 2: You can use this method to achieve the hues you want for things like skin tones (eg. if the skin is too orange and you can't get it right through white balance and HSL, try adding a cooler color to the mid tones or shadows to cancel out the orange hues).


So there you have it, three key things that I think will help improve your editing process! There are obviously so many different tricks you can use while editing photos, but those are some of my favorite tips!

If you want to learn more about editing check out The Editing Course! This course walks you through every single step of the editing process!

And, if you’re still getting used to editing, just want to cut down on editing time, or are struggling to the get the look you desire on your own, DC Presets are the perfect solution for you. 

Presets are my favorite time-saving tool to nailing the edits you want, and I have spent years creating creating different preset packs for you to choose from to achieve the look you want for your brand! Check them out here & if you need help deciding on which pack is best for you, there’s even a quiz for that (click here to take the quiz)! 

Happy editing!

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