From the time to time you may hear the phrase I can Photoshop that. This is a term that for means lazy. Photoshop is a tool but so is a camera and sometimes getting something right the first time in camera can save you time in post-production. There are something’s you cannot fix in Photoshop.
- Where you stand
When you take a picture you must choose the viewpoint of your subject. This means that at times that view point is not where you are but you can take the picture from here anyway. As the saying goes god gave you legs use them. If you are too far away move closer if you are to close move back, low and high the same. Sometimes it is not enough to zoom in or out but move. In moving you will also see your subject from a new perspective. Of course in Photoshop you can make giga images, stitched together to fit in the view but would it take less time just to take ten paces back. You can also crop the image in effect magnifying the image (in a similar way a digital zoom works), in doing this though it will reduce the quality o the image.
Similar to where you stand is your choice of lens. Lenses are an important part of a camera that many people overlook. Their distortions can drastically change a picture; a wide angle lens stretches images and zoom lenses compact the scene. Photoshop has the lens correction tool but the tool fixes the distortions in a lens but will not make the wide angle shot have the look of a telephoto and the other way round.
Light is the most important part of photography, since if there is no light there is no image. Unfortunately I am not the X-Man Storm (or should I say X-Woman) and cannot control the weather and lighting. In studio conditions you can and this is the only exception. The rest of the time you need to make the light work for you. You may go out to capture a certain image but the sun is not where you want it or the clouds are making it too defuse and you don’t have the long shadows you were wanting. If it is midday the sun will be high and you won’t have the strong tones of sunset. You can’t change this in Photoshop realistically. Sometimes when planning a photo walk I will look at the places where I want to photograph using Google maps and work out where the sun will be to start planning my shots so I know what to expect.
It is important to focus you camera on your subject, you cannot fix out of focus images ( I know I have tried), you can apply some sharpening to soft focused areas but anything more will become a pixelated mess. You can blur a sharp image but it will not look the same as an image taken with a large aperture. Chimp mode on your camera can be beneficial to make sure an image is in focus by zooming into the part of the image you were focusing on and check.
- Blurred images
If and image is blurred then you are in the same place as an image being out of focus. There are several ways to reduce blurring or camera shake:
One try not to shoot longer than the focal length of the camera hand held. This is a rule of thumb, if you are using a 300mm lens you will get blur/camera shake when the photo is taken slower than 1/300th of a second.
You could also use a tripod or gorilla grip.
If you are taking a long exposure (I mean longer than 1/60th of a second) use the mirror lock function (if your camera has one) to stop the movement of the mirror moving the camera.
If you take a picture at the wrong exposure you cannot correct it.
“Oh yes we can, in ACR when we shoot raw!”
“Well no you can’t.”If you compare bracketed shots to those that have had their exposure pushed or pulled in Adobe Camera Raw you will see the difference. Exposure adjustments allow you to brighten and darken the overall image. Yes it can save your bacon if you were slightly out but if you underexpose by 3 stops you will not get the same image as if you took the picture with the correct exposure.
This kind of goes with exposure but I will give clipping its own point.
Clipping is when you cut information from the highlights and shadows. Clipping is occurs when an image is under or over exposed. As stated earlier you can try to brighten an image in Photoshop but the information lost through it being clipped is gone forever.
My friend Erica pointed this out to me the other day. She is a picture editor and said “Photoshop can fix a lot of things but not ugly people.”
Yes beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one persons view of beauty is not the same as another’s, but if a kid has jam all over their face or a strange facial feature, this cannot always be removed. Sometimes it is good to find subjects good side or wipe clean the child’s face.
We all take those shots that are unimaginative, we have just taken the picture for it to be done and not thought about it. Yet when you are asked “Do you have a picture of the Unicorn we saw?” You will be trying your hardest to make that image amazing even though it is unimaginative. Photography is a creative process; if you are being uncreative then your images will suffer too. I have a lot of them in my folders mainly of events I have photographed and was having an off day. Photoshop can’t fix that.
- Not taking a Picture
This seems odd but unless you take a picture you can’t edit it. It can be hard to be creative and have the imagination some days and we get lazy. When we are taking time to compose a shot, choosing your settings carefully and focusing on what is the most important, move around and find the sweet spot. When all is done and you’re moving on, activate chimp mode.
Did I miss anything? Is there something else that you can’t do in Photoshop?