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Hello.

I was just wondering if EVERYONE edits their photos?  I look at great photos that everyone has taken, and the first thing that comes into my head is "how much has this photo been changed/enhanced/modified, or is this just a great shot?"  Not that editing is a bad thing... just wondering...

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I try to do as little editing as possible. Mostly just cropping etc. I try not to photoshop as I believe that if I put it out of my mind that I can just edit the photo to make it look good then I learn to expand and build my skills as opposed to relying on a piece of software to make my photos look good.

That's a good point, Stephen. There's no substitute for your own skills and understanding to take good pictures. And it is important to realize that photoshop is not meant to convert a badly taken picture into a good one, and many photoshop users tend to think it does. However there's no doubt that photoshop and many other such programs have a great potential to make a well taken picture even better one, and in such a picture you may have a perfect job with exposure and composition etc. I would generally divide the photoshop users or for the sake of this thread, people 'editing' their pictures into three group:

1. People trying to make wrongly or badly taken pictures better by using photoshop or similar product. There's nothing bad about it as such, as long as one realizes his or her mistake and has learned from the expreience to take better one next time. Photo editing can slavage such pictures into usable ones or even improved to unexpected level and there's a good reason to do this. This should not, however, lure the photogrpher to use photo editing as a prop to cover or compensate for their faults.

2. People who have taken good pictures, well exposed and composed, depending on their camera's capabilities, but want to improve the pictures even more, especially if the pictures are taken in RAW format. This is a perfectly legitimate and good reason to do it, and the results sometimes are outstanding, far above your expectations. Almost all professional photographers do that. Remember that all cameras not the same, and just because I can't afford to have a Canon 1D Mark III or similar high end camera doesn't mean that I can't improve the pictures taken with my modest APS-C DSLR or a high end compact to a better level.

3. People whose picture are perfect for all purposes and intentions but they use photoshop to add drama and novelty in them by physically altering the photo attributes to make it look an abstract or out of ordinary looking picture which is not just possible with a camera equipment. This is a delicate approach and a lot depends on one's choices and preferences about how bizarre they would like their pictures to look, and frankly your imagination is your limit,  it may not appeal to everyone, and may not win prizes but if they appeal to you, it's just fine.

Hence while I fully agree with you, I would just not use photoshop just to make my own skills better, but use photo editing to make my well taken pictures better ones. And believe me the more I have learned photoshop the more I'm amazed how much I can improve on my pictures, and I think the quality of my final results is improving (I think). If you have time, please have a look at my pictures and see how with time they've improved. Whether it is due to my better understanding of picture taking or better use of photo editing, I'm not sure..but I'm happy about my results! Finally I don't edit each and every of my pictures, but the ones that I think I can make them better and more appealing. And if the result of editing is not satisfying I just keep the old ones!

I shoot everything in RAW, and in aperture priority mode, so the image comes out of the camera unprocessed, as opposed to jpeg, where the camera makes best guess correction. Typically i crop to either 5x7 or 8x10, set the white balance, the black and white points, contrast, clarity, saturation, hue and sharpness. I may also play with the curves some. If the image lighting is beyond the capacity of the camera, I will take several images and create an HDR photo. Also, if the depth of field I want is beyond f/16, I set the f/stop to 11, the sweet spot for my lens, and stack two,  three or more images, to create a crisp focus, from 3 feet to infinity. My goal is to create an image, the way the eye saw it.
This sounds like a complete course in dark room techniques, makes me long for this ability to obtain something extra out of my photos

No, sherryl. You don't need to learn or complete the course on dark room techniques. But, you need to learn about light (though it is a vast chapter, the basic knowledge like colour temperature, the light in different time of the day etc. are suffice). You cannot calculate the colour temperature and the other things at the moment you are taking a picture, except the fashion photography and product photography. But, if you know these things, your sense will grow with time and you will be able to know how to take your desired picture. Understanding light, aperture, the relation between light and f-stop and your camera gear, these are the fundamentals which you need to know. You need to know your camera, body and the lens, very well, their pros and cons, their limitations, and the metering system in-built. According to some experts , 'print ready' stunning pictures can be taken using the camera only, obviously a DSLR. But, you need to learn and you have to be an expert. I could not do that because I am not an expert. I do need a little bit editing, only a little colour correction and cropping. I always shot in RAW, so converting it to JPG or TIF, editing requires. So, without a complete course in dark room techniques you can obtain something extra out of your photos.

I edit every single one of my photos, but only to a small degree. I don't clone out or add anything to my images. I only do color corrections, cropping, and sometimes applying vignettes. 98% of my editing is done on color correcting. Cameras can not provide a 100% accurate reproduction of a scene that was photographed, so color corrections are important if you want to accurately portray what the eye saw. I will also play with the colors if I want to give a shot a bit more drama with the lighting.

I think editing a photo only adds to the creativity of the photographer. By editing a photograph, you put your own style or stamp on the photograph. So i fully support photographers editing their work.
100 % agree! :)
:)
Well said Dora. Of course planning your shot is always considered. 
I completely agree here.

I agree totally James.

"Cameras can not provide a 100% accurate reproduction of a scene"

editing is really creating what is your own view on the scene you captured, somebody else's view will be different.

It would be a very boring world to live in if we all had the same view.

Edited or not the picture will not please everyone, subject and composition is important as well.

It depends on what you mean by "edit".  Edit, in the dictionary, is to prepare and arrange, or to supervise or direct preparation and arrangement.  You are editing when you compose the image before you release the shutter.  If you shoot raw, there is some processing that goes into getting a JPEG or a print.  Some cameras have a 95% viewfinder so you have to crop a little to get back to what you saw in the viewfinder, does that count as editing? 

 

You can make a huge difference in some photos just by setting the white balance then the white and black points.  Sometimes adjusting the contrast will make a huge difference.  In the days of darkrooms, this was all done with exposure times, paper selection, chemical mixtures and development times.  Now, it is done in a computer.

 

Some images look really good with almost no work, other images look really good after a lot of work and some are composites, the computer will let you build double exposures, add or remove elements with relative ease.  The answer to your question is that some photos were taken that way and almost nothing was done to them, others had perhaps much more help.

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