There are some photos that just make you feel stuck while you try to figure out the best way to edit them. I’m sure we’ve all been here so many times. But Jonathan Lee Martin suggests a simple trick: turn that photo upside down! In this video, he explains why this method works and gives you an example of how he edited one of his own images using this technique.
To put it simply what happens when we observe a photo: we tend to impose our own “cartoonish” preconceptions on the subjects that we can identify in an image. For example, we see a valley, a mountain, a river or a cloud. When we turn the photo upside down, we don’t see these items any longer. Instead, we see lines, shapes, curves, and lighting.
Jonathan points out that rotating the photo helps him see composition, shapes, and lighting as he loses these “childish preconceptions.” He notices compositional issues, but on the other hand also sees the S-curves and M-curves that add artistic value to the image.
In the video, he shares a photo he remembers that first got through this “treatment.” He was captivated by the scene he photographed but got stuck when trying to edit the photo. And as he admits, he got stuck for about a year. So, he tried applying the “upside-down technique,” and immediately noticed the issues and the good sides:
- The green in the foreground is too vivid and steals the attention
- The darkened clouds also steal the attention from the cabins and the mountains
- Compositionally, he was satisfied but figured out that the editing job he did didn’t work
After seeing all these problems and good sides, Jonathan figured out what he needed to change in the editing job to make the best out of the image.
Another technique that can work as well is flipping the image horizontally. Just like turning it upside down, this can also give you a different view and the fresh perspective on the photo you’re working on. When you look at the photo for a long time, you kinda get attached to it. Flipping it helps you reestablish objectivity and see the photo with different eyes.
I find Jonathan’s tip pretty interesting, and I believe it can be effective. I haven’t used it before, but I’ll make sure to try it out next time I get stuck while editing a photo.
What about you? Have you used this technique and did it work? And do you have your own techniques to recommend?