Five editing tools every photographer should know
No matter which editing program you use, there are plenty of helpful tutorials that will help you improve your knowledge about them. But there are some tools that appear in all programs, and they’re essential for proper image editing. In this video, Ted Forbes brings you five of these editing tools you’ll find in software apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, or Luminar. They’re tools you need to have a grasp on in order to better understand light and color, and therefore to become better at editing.
In the 16-minute video, Ted talks about these tools and how they will aid your editing process. Here are the highlights, and make sure to watch the video for a more thorough explanation and examples.
- Histogram – it’s not a tool you use to edit an image, but it’s a tool that helps you to understand it and edit it correctly. A histogram will tell you about the exposure and contrast of the photo, but also about the colors. In Lightroom, you can drag points on the histogram to adjust the exposure and contrast of the image, but you can’t change colors.
- Sliders – there’s a wide variety of sliders in all editing programs, and we’ll all agree that they’re pretty intuitive to use. But, it’s good to know that some sliders don’t allow you a finite amount of control over your editing, which brings us to the next tool.
- Levels – Levels adjustment doesn’t exist in Lightroom, but it does in Capture One and Photoshop. You can use it to adjust highlights, mid-tones, and shadows, and fine-tune the contrast in your image using just one tool. If you only use sliders, you may need to use several different tools to achieve the same look. Other than adjusting brightness and contrast, you can also use Levels to adjust color. If you select Red, Green or Blue channel within the tool, you can color grade the image or adjust the color balance.
- Curves – Curves allow you similar adjustments like Levels: you can fine-tune brightness and contrast, or adjust colors in the image by changing Red, Green and Blue channel. There are many similarities between these two tools, but Curves allow you more refined editing and more control. You can see the two tools compared here.
- Color wheel – you’ll find this tool in Capture One, but also DaVinci Resolve and Adobe Premiere. When you open the Color Balance tab, you’ll see three color wheels representing highlights, shadows, and mid-tones. They allow you very precise settings of saturation, tint, and brightness you’ll adjust in the image.
All these tools do pretty much the same thing but at slightly different levels of precision. Although I’m familiar with all of these, I almost always use Curves to adjust the contrast and color grade my images. For me personally, it’s the most intuitive method. Which one of these methods do you use most often?
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.