Every time you spot your mistake and try to fix it, your knowledge and skill improve. However, there are some mistakes you might be repeatedly making without being aware of it. Mark Denney talks about them in his latest video, highlighting the five biggest mistakes you might be making when editing landscape images.
It’s important to note that photo editing is subjective. However, there are some things that won’t do your photos any justice no matter the style you’re going for. Other than that, these are the mistakes that are very difficult to identify, so we tend to repeat them over and over again until we realize we’re making them.
These five mistakes are based on Mark’s experience. They occur most often in his images even today, and I sure could relate to some of them as I watched the video.
1. Overly bright shadows
One thing that Mark still occasionally does is recovering shadows too much. I did it as well when I discovered RAW format and realized that I could recover a lot of detail from the shadows. So I would go all the way and make them too bright. But, the shadows are not meant to be bright. They should be dark and give the dimension and depth to your photos. Overly-brightened shadows will make the photo will look flat and not very realistic.
Even though you know this is a mistake, it can be difficult to determine the right amount of shadow recovery. How much is too much? Mark suggests using the Show Shadow Clipping tool within Histogram in Lightroom. It can be a good guideline so you don’t go overboard. Click on this tool and it will highlight the areas where the shadows are too dark, showing them as blue. Recover the shadows only until the majority of that blue color has disappeared.
2. Distraction removal
Landscape photos often have small distractions (twigs, pebbles, leaves, and other small things). These are especially visible on the water surface, and if you ask me, they’re so annoying! It can take a lot of time to remove them, but it pays off because they can be really distracting, no matter how small they are. Mark usually take time to remove them, but he admits that he sometimes gets lazy and leaves them in the photo. But he regrets it later, so he suggests you to be thorough and remove them.
After all, they’re pretty easy to remove using the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom. There are several options in Photoshop as well, so choose your preferred method and make your photos distraction-free.
3. Poor cropping
Cropping an image doesn’t only revolve around “to crop or not to crop.” When you decide to crop it, there are a few things to think about: aspect ratio, leveling the horizon, having corners free of distractions, and the overall composition of the final shot.
Mark reminds you to take all these into consideration and have them in mind when cropping the image. And he shares an extra tip: the Auto option for leveling the horizon doesn’t always do the best job in Lightroom, so it’s safer to do it manually.
4. Bad contrast
Too much contrast, or not enough contrast: Mark admits that it’s often difficult for him to find the middle ground between these two extremes. And once again, I can relate. My photos are either too contrasty or lack contrast, and I find it very challenging to find the right amount.
Mark suggests a great solution for dealing with this, and I use it as well. Edit two different versions of the same photo, and toggle between them to see which one looks better. Also, it always helps to walk away from the edit and return to it later.
I think that this is generally the most common editing mistakes of many photographers. The thing is: it’s very difficult to realize when you’re over-editing after spending some time working on a photo.
The solution is simple: step away from the computer. Allow your eyes and your mind to “reset” before you return to the image and take another look. I always relate this to writing: after working on a story or an article for a few hours, I’m not able to see my mistakes anymore. But when I return to it after a couple of hours or even the following day, I will notice my mistakes in both style and spelling.
So, allow yourself to rest and “reset” before publishing the image. And keep in mind that the editing job shouldn’t be obvious and distract from the photo. Instead, it should enhance it and complement it, bringing out the best from it.
As you can see, I can relate to the two mistakes regarding shadows/contrast. I’d say that they’re even connected to each other, and that’s something I’ve been struggling with ever since I started editing my images. Are there any mistakes you still struggle with? And would you add anything to Mark’s list?