Digital photography has made a huge change in the way we take and manipulate photos. And Photoshop has opened a whole new world in digital photo manipulation. You can be extremely creative with your pictures and can even save photos that might have once been a total loss. But editing and correcting marginal photos in Photoshop can be quite time consuming. This will not only eat into the time you would rather spend taking pictures, it will ultimately affect your bottom line.
Rather than think, “I can fix that later in Photoshop,” it is always better to start with a good picture. Here are five tips to help you avoid mistakes that can cost you hours to fix later in Photoshop.
1. Get the Exposure Right
Getting the right exposure in the studio is not always easy. The tried and true method for checking flash output and exposure is to use your light meter. But another method that can be useful is to use the histogram, or exposure chart, that is built right into your camera. Just pull it up on the camera’s LCD screen and you can see the exposure across the range on the graph. Then, you can either adjust the aperture on your camera or the output on your flash until you get the exposure you like. This will save you time adjusting over or under exposed photos.
2. Blur Unimportant Elements
Photoshop can be very useful to crop out, blur or diminish backgrounds or other unwanted elements from your photos. But with the proper lens, aperture setting and focal length, you can shift the attention from the background to your subject in the original photo, and thus save yourself a lot of time in front of the computer trying to shift the attention back to your subject.
3. Use Exposure Instead of Backdrops
Having a backdrop for every occasion can be expensive and take up a lot of studio space. But using exposure properly can turn a background either black or white. Since your camera sensor can only record a limited range of light, it is possible to trick it into ignoring the background. If you focus your lighting and exposure on the subject, you can create a big difference in the relative amount of light from the background. By reducing the amount of light that comes back to the sensor on a dark or shadowed background, it will register as black. If the background is much brighter, it will register as solid white.
4. Use Bracketing
In order to ensure that you have the exposure that you want, take one photo at normal exposure, one stopped down and one stopped up. This is especially useful if you have variable lighting conditions. Sometimes, the camera’s meter will be suggesting a certain exposure, but it won’t necessarily give you the result you desire. Not only will you save the time of adjusting exposure in Photoshop, you might happen upon a creatively better photograph.
5. Adjust the White Balance
Even though your camera has white balance settings for different types of light, from fluorescent to daylight to flash, the camera doesn’t always select the correct white balance. While you may go back in Photoshop and make the adjustment there, it can save time to set a custom white balance. You simply put a white balance card into your scene, take a picture of it and select the card in the white balance section of your camera’s menu. Then you know that you have the right balance for those particular conditions.
By making sure that you start with the best possible photograph to begin with, you can save a ton of time making minute adjustments in Photoshop. That way, instead of spending hours correcting minor errors, you can devote that time to creatively and artistically enhancing your photos.
Practical software engineer and the founder of Dynamic Search™. Asher is enthusiastic about all things involving creative marketing, CRO, SEM, and killer content. Follow me on twitter at @DynamicSearch