An issue I am often faced with – more often than I would like to openly admit – is that I edit my images too quickly. Now, for all of you who had been waiting a month to see my newest collection, The Mountains, you may be thinking that this is absolute rubbish. A month to edit, what, five images? That’s almost a full week per image. So, in a practical sense, yeah, they should be able to be edited in that time. And they should be done, completely finalized, and not looked at again unless I choose to export them for printing. But this is rarely the case for me. Just before being inspired to write this, I opened up Lightroom and reset a bunch of images from an older collection called The Ground; starting from scratch, I began quickly running through the twenty-so images. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
At some point, I stopped taking my time
As I was editing these images in what seemed to be record time, I began to realize just how carelessly I was throwing around my sliders. Instead of paying attention to even the slightest difference each adjustment made, I slid to a number I knew worked for each one and simply stuck with it, increasing it only if it absolutely needed to be increased. Otherwise, it was “good enough for government work,” as my father has always said. With all things considered these days, good enough does not need to be good at all.
I suppose everything really smacked me in the face when I decided to test out a preset I had received from another photographer. Although he does portrait photography – and his style tends to only work for images of people – I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I applied it and was immediately blown away.
I loved the resulting image
While I had adjusted some aspects of the preset to make it work even better with the image, I could not believe how well it applied. So, I began to delve deeper into the preset itself for a few quick moments, trying to find out how it had been done. This photographer had touched panels within Lightroom that I had not touched in months, if not ever. I realized that I was missing out on so much, simply because I was using the basics of the application. My goal seemed to be to get everything right in camera so that little to no processing had to be done afterwards. Which is fine, that’s great, super-duper awesome! I plan to continue getting everything as correct in camera as possible and it is something that more people need to do as well. However, that does not mean that I should be speeding through Lightroom as though it is a race, as though I will be killed if I do not get out fast enough.
Slowdown in the field, slowdown on the screen
No image is 100% perfect straight out of camera. Ansel Adams had to do an insane amount of manipulation, specifically dodging and burning, on his images in the dark room to get them as good as we see them today. Every professional photographer relies on post-processing to put those finishing touches to their photographs. To really make their images shine, they need to make some adjustments, even if they are slight. And it helps us to find our style as well.
So what does this mean?
Simply put, I plan on slowing down. I want to start really taking my time with everything. Considering I do not release many new images at a rapid rate already, I would much rather take my time and really perfect every single photograph. Quality over quantity. Never let that be forgotten.