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Perfect pictures - professional tips for photo editing
Digitization has fundamentally changed not only photography, but also photo editing. The darkrooms of the analog camera generation have almost disappeared and have been replaced by software. But the numerous possibilities of digital post processing can be overwhelming at first. Travel and landscape photographer David Köster explains the most important aspects of image processing and the tricks with which he succeeds in creating his surreal landscapes.
The optimal photo as a basis
Before you start editing, you first need a good photo as a basis. Because even the most complex post-processing does not make an eye-catcher out of an unfavorably taken photo. Therefore, pay attention to optimal conditions and the right settings when taking pictures.
Especially in outdoor photography, where you deal with natural light work, it is crucial to use that "right". When the sun is low in the morning or in the evening, interesting shadows are created that make the landscape appear more three-dimensional. The light is softer and bathes the backdrop in beautiful reddish and / or orange tones. On the other hand, it is advisable to avoid the “hard” midday sun. In addition, it is important to pay attention to the exposure on site and - preferably with the histogram - to check whether the image is overexposed or underexposed. If the light does not meet his expectations, Köster often simply leaves the camera in his pocket and returns later when the lighting conditions meet his expectations.
Make up your mind about the Image composition and don't just snap. For an exciting picture composition, it is helpful to use the so-called rule of thirds, in which the picture is divided mentally or with the help of a grid - which you can set in many cameras in the viewfinder and display - by three horizontal and vertical lines each into nine rectangles becomes. If the main motif is now in one of the intersections of the lines, instead of in the center of the picture, a dynamic composition is created. In addition, lines leading into the picture or natural frames can make photos more interesting.
The right ones too Settings on your camera are crucial for a successful picture. The most important photographic parameters include aperture, exposure time, ISO number and focus point. Every photographer, professional or amateur, should be familiar with the effect of these factors. The choice of aperture, for example, affects the sharpness. Above all, it is elementary for landscape photographers who want to capture as many details as possible with their pictures. In general, the more closed the aperture (the larger the f-number), the greater the depth of field. Another parameter that influences the depth of field and the progression of the focus is the choice of the focus point. If you want the sharpest possible images, you can find out more about the “hyperfocal distance” here.
Last but not least, definitely yours too equipment the quality of your pictures. Modern cameras with high-resolution sensors, high-quality lenses and the use of tripods, remote release and mirror lock-up contribute significantly to the sharpness of your images.
Simply following our expert tips reduces the work involved in post-processing. Such an approach also saves storage space and battery. It is estimated that only 10% of the files photographed by Kösters end up in the digital trash.
The correct file format
The RAW file of the photo, the digital negative of the image, is ideal for later image processing. Most cameras today allow photography in this format, but mostly have the JPEG mode preset. Check the setting in your camera's menu before you release the shutter.
The advantage of the RAW format over JPEG is that it records the raw photo data. In other words, the file is not compressed or processed by the camera, so that more information is available to you for digital processing - or in other words, development - afterwards. Of course, you can also post-process a JPEG file, but this is a lossy compression process in which the file size is reduced by combining pixels and reducing the color gamut. This can lead to breaks in color gradients or artifacts such as stairs.
By the way: Taking pictures in RAW format only makes sense if you actually want to edit the pictures later and have the appropriate software to convert them. If you want to use the images "out-of-the-cam", JPEG is the format of your choice. In this case, just make sure to set your camera to the highest possible quality level.
The best photo editing programs
At the "digital development table" you can adapt the original photo to your own wishes with the help of various setting options. Here you can crop and align your subject, set the white balance, optimize the lighting conditions or increase contrast, sharpness and saturation before you remove, for example, image noise and sensor stains in the next step - touching up.
There are various image processing programs for this, of which Adobe Photoshop is by far the best known. However, many of the functions offered are not absolutely necessary for digital photo editing. In addition, the program is quite expensive, for a new version you can easily put down a four-digit amount. If Photoshop is not already in your inventory, the expert recommends choosing a program that specializes in photo editing.
Software such as Adobe Lightroom, Capture One, ACD See, Corel Aftershot and DxO Optics convert, import and catalog the data with just a few clicks and offer professional setting options.
Professional David Köster favors Adobe Lightroom, which has all the functions that are important for him along the photographic workflow, but at the same time is very clear and inexpensive.
Our expert tip: For some time now you have been able to use Photoshop and Lightroom with the so-called Adobe Creative Cloud photo subscription. That costs just under € 12 a month and allows full access to the current versions of the two classics.
In addition, free programs such as Gimp, darktable, LightZone or RawTherapee, with their extensive functionalities, enable a relatively easy introduction to working with RAW files.
Some of the programs presented contain preprogrammed filters with exciting effects. By simply trying it out, you will learn a lot within a very short time and with a little training you will quickly achieve interesting results. If you would like to better understand some of the basic functions, we recommend the YouTube tutorials on the manufacturer's website. In addition, you always have the option of registering directly for a workshop - like the one offered by David Köster.
Find your own style
Your finished picture is created from an interplay of photo technology, technical settings and subsequent processing. There are no specifications as to how and how much post-processing is correct, that, according to Köster, is simply a question of personal taste. With his finished pictures, he tries to reproduce the scenery as he has seen it - albeit entirely subjectively. Köster specializes in landscape pictures, of fairy-tale places in mystical lighting moods. The expressionistic, painterly touch of his pictures is created by a high depth of field, a high tonal value and dynamic range.
When it comes to post-processing, Köster generally applies the motto "As much as necessary, as little as possible." Serious retouching or image changes are and will remain taboo. He neither adds nor removes details - apart from sensor stains. And pink doesn't turn into blue either.
Of course, this does not mean that you do not proceed differently and, for example, work specifically with blurring, take high-key or black and white photos and later selectively filter out colors or give your photos a retro look. Try it out and create your own style, whether you are traveling or in the garden at home.
Have fun with our tips from the expert David Köster!
Address & contact
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Email: [email protected]
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