How and why you should edit your photos in reverse

Feb 21, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How and why you should edit your photos in reverse

Feb 21, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When it comes to editing photos, most of us probably have a workflow that we developed years ago. We start with our global adjustments, then we focus on specific elements of the image to even things out. Perhaps we add a gradient mask in camera raw or Lightroom, or maybe we make some fancy selections and start tweaking in Photoshop. But is this still the best way to go?

This is an interesting video from photographer Anthony Morganti. In it, he talks about how his workflow in Adobe Lightroom has changed and evolved over time. These changes come as a direct result of new features and technology – specifically AI masking – that have been implemented into Lightroom. It’s a perhaps more logical way of editing photos, given the software’s capabilities now.

The old ways of editing a photo, doing the global adjustments first, then doing the small tweaks, is probably the most common method out there. But those tiny tweaks can often require more global adjustments after the fact to keep things looking good. It’s why many of us import our raw files into Photoshop as smart objects, so that we can go back and tweak those global adjustments later on in the process.

Given that we often need to go back and tweak those global adjustments after making the detail changes anyway, Anthony’s new approach to photo editing actually starts with the details. Lightroom’s AI-powered selection masks have made it extremely easy to be able to select things like the sky, human subjects and other things in order to balance out an image against itself before making those overall global adjustments.

From a time spent standpoint, tweaking the details first might actually be a quicker way to go, because you’re not having to make those global adjustments multiple times. You’re only doing them once after you’ve balanced out all of the different elements of the image. It might be an approach that takes a little time to wrap your head around, but it may just be worth checking out.

Do you focus on the global adjustments or the details first when you edit photos?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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