Transform average travel photos into amazing ones with these simple editing tips
Following is an example of the steps involved in processing a raw file before exporting it as TIFF file. You can edit a JPEG file in the same way. Not every step is performed on every image, and other steps are required on some images that weren’t required in this example. But, this should give you an idea of what needs to be done and it is achievable quite quickly (around one minute) on fi les that are properly exposed.
1. Open Raw File. This is the original raw fi le, overexposed by 1/3 stop with only Lightroom default settings applied. As you can see, it’s flat, lacking colour – this is how raw fi les look out of the camera and before they are processed. I failed to keep the horizon straight (obviously the road I was standing on must have been wonky) so the fi rst thing to do is straighten it up.
2. Crop and Straighten. Using the ruler tool, I marked a line along a vertical edge, the red building, and the image is rotated. When you straighten an image, you then have to crop out the blank space that is created around the image. When you crop, you are removing pixels from the image file making it smaller, so ensure you crop accurately to maintain the maximum size file.
3. Check for Sensor Dust Spots. Next, I zoomed in to magnify the image to 100%. Unfortunately, there were a few dust spots in the sky, even though the camera has an integrated cleaning system, so I removed them using the clone brush.
4. Adjust White Balance. The image looked a bit too cool with a colour temperature of 5250, so I selected the white-balance tool and placed the cursor over an area in the scene that should be neutral in colour.
5. Set the White Balance. Clicking the white-balance tool, I increased the colour temperature to 5400, giving the image a slightly warmer and more accurate look.
7. Fine-Tune the Tonal Range. Further improvement was made using the Tone Curve tool to fine-tune the tonal balance and bring out more detail in the highlights and shadows.
8. Adjust the Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation. The image still lacked the saturated colours that I used to achieve when shooting colour transparency fi lm by using a film stock that was biased to capture vivid and saturated colours. To address this, I tweaked the image using the Clarity and Vibrance controls.
9. Sharpen. Finally, I added some sharpening to correct for the inherent lack of sharpness that is typical of a raw camera file. As already stated but worth emphasising, this sharpening step is not to be confused with the sharpening of a file in TIFF or JPEG format when it is being prepared for a designated output such as reproduction in a book or as a print for the wall.
10. Sit Back and Admire. The image is now displaying accurate, nicely saturated colour and good tonal range with detail in the shadows and highlights, and everywhere in between. The next step is to convert, or export, the edited file to a useable file format, which for me is a TIFF. These steps took around a minute to complete. If you’ve got a series of shots of a similar scene, you can copy the adjustments and paste them onto the other image files, which adjusts the photos in about a second.
Online photo editing
If you’re on the move without a computer and image-editing software, or you don’t want to invest in software and the inevitable updates, you could consider the image editing options provided by online services such as Splashup (www.splashup.com). You upload your pictures to their site, edit them online in real time, then distribute the images to your social networking or photo sharing account or bring them back to your own computer for printing and archiving. You can edit and distribute your images from anywhere you can get an internet connection.
Learn how to take unique photos of iconic images.
Read tips on taking care of your camera in adverse conditions.
LPI photographer Dr Andrew Peacock tells you why you should give Flickr the flick.
Check out more information on editing your images in the Travel Photography Book by Richard I’Anson.