To Enhance or Not To Enhance

Well, today’s subject is enhancing your photos.  Now, this is not going to be a tutorial of how I perform the enhancements that will be later when I have some time to go in depth.  A lot of people will not admit they enhance their photos as if they are afraid they will be looked down on.   Now I feel I have a good eye for this, and I would say at least 95% of photos I come across have been enhanced.  Now when I talk about enhanced I am talking about enhancing the colors and clarity of a photograph.  Not adding things to the photo.  Like when I come across a photograph of a dark sky with a moon over the lake with color on the water when no other color exists in the photo.

Sometimes it is necessary to enhance the photos.  For one sometimes the camera does not capture the colors of a sunset as they really are, or you underexposed a photograph and need to brighten it up.  The way I look at it if I can save a shot and use it then that is what I am going to do.  You only get one shot at it because you will never be able to capture the same shot again.  Kind of like snowflakes, each shot is different.

So here are some of the types of enhancements I perform on my photographs.  Some of them are applied to all photographs.  Such as when I load my RAW files into Lightroom I instantly apply an “S” Curve to the photos this helps bring out the shadows and highlights and seems to help the photos pop a little more.  (I know there is a lot of info out there but please shot in RAW you would not believe how many times I have saved a low light picture that I was not able to fix as a JPEG.)  The next thing I do to most of my photos is warm the photos up a bit especially if they are fall photos.  My camera tends to lean towards the cool side of the spectrum when taking photos.  This is my personal preference as I like a warmer photo.

Some of the enhancements I perform are based on the photo or the subject of the photo.   For fall photos, I tend to darken the Red, Orange, and Yellow colors and up their saturation a little bit.  When I say a little bit, I mean I change their number of 0 to 5 I keep the colors as natural as I can but just helping them pop a little bit more.  Depending on the scene I have also been messing with the Clarity setting in Lightroom.  I love how it can bring out the texture more in some shots especially shots of boulders, or rocks.  Living in West Virginia we have hazy days in the summer and early fall.  Now with a filter on my lenses, this helps combated that.  But sometimes I don’t have it with me.  So, I use the dehaze feature to remove it.  You would be surprised what you can recover with some of these settings.  I have also used the noise reduction for my night photography.  My camera being almost 9 years old tends to add a lot of noise to photos at night even at its lowest setting.  The only down fall is this tends to soften the photograph so I tend to not take photos of things I am wanted to show the texture of.  Mostly it has been Christmas lights at night.   Cropping is another enhancement I use especially if it helps frame the shot a bit more or cut something I don’t like being in the photo.

Now when it comes to adding and removing items from a photograph I will admit I have removed them.  This past spring I went to a state park called Swallow Falls in Maryland.  People were swimming in the falls or standing above them.  Due to all the people, I could not get a shot of them without someone in them.  So, I removed them using the clone feature of Photoshop.  However, I have never added anything to my photograph.  To me,

it takes away from my photos and is just my personal preference.  I have viewed good photos where it is hard to tell that something was not originally in the photo but I have seen others that I could instantly tell should not belong in it.

With the newer cameras out a lot of what I end up enhancing probably would no longer need to be done.  However, dealing with a 9-year-old camera some of the enhancements are necessary to help my photos keep up with newer cameras.   Below is an example of some enhancing of a photograph.  One is without any enhancements and the other is with the “S” curve, cropping, dehazing, and changing the saturation of the blue for the sky.

Do you enhance your photographs and if so what type of enhancements do you apply?

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4 thoughts on “To Enhance or Not To Enhance”

  1. I’m excited to see what others, (more seasoned than me as a infant photography/camera learner 🙂 have to say! Yes, I am like you and will crop, slightly adjust color and shadows but that’s about it…partly cuz that’s all I know HOW to do 🙂 but yes, if you can increase the beauty sometimes and it “feels right” I say absolutely! Your photos are amazing too by the way!! Can I also be bold enough to ask…say you take 100 photos in one day…how many on the average do you feel are “keepers”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Houston, I to am still learning the ropes of photography and Photoshop/Lightroom. Even though I have been self teaching myself over the past 8-9 years I still feel like an infant myself especially when I look at other people’s photography. Thank you so much for the compliment and comment. Don’t ever feel like you can not ask a question. The answer to yours is simple on average I would say 50%. Some of them once I get to looking at them I don’t like at all. Others due to some shoulder injuries I shake sometimes and the camera can only offset so much. 😀. So they are a bit blurry. Some of the others are duplicate shots I tend to take two or three of the same shot just in case I shake the camera. The best thing about digital is you can fill up the card with pictures and not worry about wasting. But even if I have one good picture I feel accomplished for the day.

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  2. Thanks for answering me about that – I’m still at about a 70% discard and the photos I post are more about sharing places to visit generally but that was the idea behind my blogging is to hold myself more accountable to try and improve and MAKE the time for ME to enjoy something I love but I’m always curious about other photographers whom I admire and what they experience so a big thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re more than welcome. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Always wanting to improve your skill is a great thing to have. I started out the same way and 95% of my pictures are from outings with a friends and family. How I would love to have the time to go out west for some of their stunning scenery but for now the surrounding states will have to do. 😀.

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