When it comes to post-processing your images, there’s editing and there’s over-editing. And because Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are such powerful photo programs, there’s a thin line between an image that looks over-processed and one that looks just right.
Pro landscape photographer Mark Denney is someone who has learned the hard way. When he was just starting out in photography, he tended to use a heavy hand during the editing process. This resulted in over-processed photos that looked unnatural.
While he’s since learned the error of his ways when it comes to photo editing, he still sees other serious photographers making his same mistakes. That’s why he put together the below video explaining “the five signs you’re over-editing landscape photos. ” While the video is specifically about Lightroom mistakes, they could be applied to Photoshop over-editing errors as well.
“When I first started editing my images in Lightroom, I would always end up pushing my photos way too far from a post-processing perspective and would usually end up with images that contained many if not all of the five signs of an over-edited photo,” Denney says. “Some of these signs are more easily identifiable than others, but any one of them can turn your great photo into an over-edited nightmare. ”
He adds that the tips covered in the tutorial aren’t solely for landscape photography but can be applied to any style of photography.
“Once I became comfortable with the signs of over-editing and corrected the photo editing mistakes I was making, my photos instantly improved and I started producing some of my best work ever,” he says.
Watch the video at the bottom of the post where Denney explains the following five warning signs while showing instances of them from older examples of his own work.
#1 Unrealistic Highlights & Shadows
“You see a lot of photos where the highlights are just brought down way too far and this is a tell-tale sign: whenever you get that big dark muddy orange ring around the white sun,” Denney says. “Also, really pay attention to how you’re affecting the shadows from a structure perspective. If you get to a point to where you’re removing all the shadows from your photo and it starts to look flat, you’ve gone way too far on your shadow adjustments. You need to bring it back a little bit.”
#2 Adding Too Much Contrast
“Contrast is definitely king. It’s very important. It can really make or break a photograph. Now having too little contrast is not quite as detrimental to an image as having too much contrast but being able to identify when you have applied too much is very critical. And it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do but what I’ve found most beneficial is to really pay attention to my shadows.”
#3 Over-Sharpening & Clarity
“When I first got into photography, I was obsessed with image sharpness. Even if the image was blurry, I would still try to sharpen that image back to a sharp image. But in reality, if the image has any kind of camera shake or blur to it, there’s no amount of sharpening in the world that’s going to correct for that blur. Even if I had an image that was sharp, I would just end up applying too much sharpness or too much clarity to where the image had a kind of gritty, rough, over-texturized quality to it which just looks awful.”
#4 Extreme Vignetting
“This is something a lot of beginners do when they start post-processing their images. They just put a completely unrealistic vignette. But I see a lot of more experienced photographers do this as well.”
#5 Oversaturated Colors
“I’ve done a ton of research over the years, trying to find a way to determine when you’ve gone overboard with saturation and there really isn’t one. This is the only thing I’ve come up with: if you zoom all the way into a photo and you look and see at the detail. When you start to lose the details when the color saturates, you’ve oversaturated the color.”