Evaluating Photographs and Making Editing Decisions

Every photograph is unique and each image will require different enhancements to make the photograph look its best. However, there are common criteria to use when evaluating your image to determine what enhancements should be made.

Many of these decisions are subjective and the choices you make should reflect your creative vision of how the image should look. Some enhancements, such as noise reduction and sharpening, are less subjective as there are established standards of technical quality to be considered. For example: in most cases people would agree that digital noise is undesirable. Also, most people would agree that the main subject of the photo should have sharp, crisp edges. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and the creative decisions you make should be guided by your personal preferences.

When evaluating your image and making creative decisions, start with the biggest changes first and work your way to the smaller “fine-tuning” adjustments. Global edits are changes made to the entire image; Local (or selective) edits are changes made only to specific areas of the image.

Think about the editing to be done and make a plan before starting work. Keep in mind that every step of the workflow affects–and is affected by–every other step. For example, sharpening the image may increase noise; adjusting color may affect apparent contrast, etc. So it may be necessary to go back and forth between steps to perfect the image. (more…)