To coincide with the launch of our ‘Emotive’ wedding photography presets with DVLOP.com we thought we’d share some useful wedding photography editing tips and articles over the next few weeks so keep an eye out for more.
We’ll begin today’s article with a few wedding photography editing basics and we’ll move onto some more advanced stuff in the next articles.
A Quick Note About Consistency
When it comes to editing a wedding gallery the absolute no.1 thing we’re always striving for is consistency!
Paying special attention to all of the following points:
-A consistent exposure in each scenario / scene of the wedding day
-A consistent white balance in each scenario / scene of the wedding day
-A consistent use of cropping/straightening/correcting photos
-A consistent editing style/preset from beginning to end of the gallery
Keeping an eye out for these 4 things can go a long way in achieving a wedding gallery that looks polished and cohesive from beginning to end.
1. Monitor Calibration
The first important step and one of the best wedding photography editing tips! Make sure your colors and gamma are correct before you start editing and calibrate your monitor!
A lot of the time when you buy a new monitor or laptop it won’t come calibrated out of the box and will either be slightly cool or perhaps a bit on the warmer side. The screen can often be extra contrasty out of the box too.
The last thing you want is to edit the perfect looking photo and then print it (or view on another calibrated screen) to discover that it looks completely different to how it looks on your monitor.
Calibrating your monitor will ensure that you’re starting off on the right foot and editing consistent-looking images.
You’ll need to purchase a calibrator and these come in a range of price points but they all do pretty much the same thing. I’ve trusted the i1 Display Pro by Xrite for many years and it’s never let me down.
Simply plug it in via USB and position it in the middle of the screen. The software bundled with the device will guide you through the process step by step and it should take no longer than 10 minutes. You’ll need to re-calibrate every few months.
Check out a video tutorial here that talk a bit more about the importance of monitor calibration.
2. Applying a Preset
The biggest advantage of using wedding photography presets is that all the heavy lifting, tweaking and time spent balancing tones and curves has been done! This will save you time in post production which becomes really crucial when you’re shooting 20-40 (or more) weddings a year. It means more time spending time doing other things you enjoy and less time tinkering around in Lightroom trying to get those cinematic tones!
Ultimately you want to find a preset that will suit your shooting / visual style and something that can used in a variety of situations and lighting conditions.
Our own presets are geared towards achieving a more cinematic look and have evolved as a result of many years of shooting in a range of lighting scenarios and locations all the way from the Scottish highlands, to the colourful streets of Copenhagen to the harsh light in Morocco.
We teamed up with the talented minds at DVLOP to enhance our presets to utilise custom camera profiles that translate the colors to every major camera system out there. With 1 click the camera model is automatically detected and the preset is applied for that specific model bringing accurate colours across all camera systems.
DVLOP’s nifty ‘modifiers tool set’ also comes bundled with the package and can be used to further tweak and customise the look to your liking quickly and easily..
Click here to check out ‘Emotive’ presets for Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW or Capture One at the DVLOP store.
BEFORE ‘EMOTIVE’ PRESET // AFTER ‘EMOTIVE’ PRESET
3. Straighten and crop
For our own style of shooting, unless it’s deliberate or there’s a creative reason why the image should be an on angle, we will make sure that every image has a straight horizon.
Straightening the image can convey the message to the viewer more clearly as it stops the eye from wandering and minimises distraction. The way we see it, if we were watching a movie that was accidently filmed on a slight angle we wouldn’t be able to fully concentrate on what was happening in the story. The same can sometimes apply to photos.
And crop! Again, to allow the eye to fall on the subject quickly we crop to make sure any unneeded space around the subject is removed and the subject is in the middle of the frame or in line with the rule of thirds.
4. Exposure slider
From bright and airy to moody and cinematic, the type of mood you’re trying to achieve in your photos can be determined by how you choose to expose it. The great thing about shooting RAW is that you have a lot of flexibility to adjust the exposure in post if you don’t quite have time to get it nailed in-camera on the day.
When we’re adjusting exposure we’re adjusting to how we remember the light actually was. If it’s a wedding outside on a bright day then we’re usually not going to drag the exposure slider down to darken the image as it would likely look unnatural.
On the other hand if a photo was taken in a dark and moody interior then we wouldn’t drag the exposure up too high as we would want to keep those rich, dramatic, moody tones.
Take a look at the image below to see how the exposure slider can effect mood. Some people may prefer the brighter version, some may prefer the darker version which is correctly exposed to how the light was.
There are of course no rules with exposure though and we encourage anyone to play around with the exposure slider to find a look that suits them.
5. White balance and tint
Probably one of the most important wedding photography editing tips as this can have a big influence on your overall look! If skin tones don’t look quite right or the image looks washed out then it’s likely an issue with the white balance being too much on the cooler side. We usually adjust our images neutral or slightly to the warmer side until the skin tones look correct.
We then carefully adjust the tint depending if we want to go for a slighter greener feel or magenta feel (or somewhere in the middle so it’s neutral). Adjusting tint something that usually should be used in small increments so the changes are very subtle.
White balance is very important for consistency in a wedding gallery. After finishing up editing the gallery in Lightroom, it pays to go back and scroll through the gallery another 2-3 times by eye to make sure the white balance in each scene is consistent with the photo/s before it.
SLIDE TO SEE HOW WHITE BALANCE AFFECTS SKIN TONES
6. Adjustment brush masks and bringing out the most of each photo
It’s always great when you can just apply your preset, make some adjustments to exposure / white balance and then move on to the next photo. Sometimes there are cases when a photo can do with a little bit more work though.
Whenever we’re editing a photo we’re thinking two things :
1. Where do we want the viewer to look?
2. How can we minimise distractions?
With an adjustment brush mask tool you can dodge and burn individual parts of the image to help guide the viewer’s eye to where you want it to go. Sometimes you might want to drag down the exposure to hide a certain part or perhaps you’ll need to make parts of the image brighter to even things out a bit. Using the adjustment brush you have full control over every individual part of the image.
In the image below I brushed in some extra exposure on the groom and darkened the wall next to the groom on the left as I personally felt it was too bright distracting.
Before brush masks:
After brush masks:
Another way to subtly guide the eyes towards the subject in the middle is by using a bit of vignetting. We usually add just a little bit as we don’t want to overdo it.
8. Remove objects and distractions
Finally we always like to removed any unwanted objects or distractions in the photo to convey the message more clearly.
On the wedding day we try and shoot in a way that minimises unwanted objects in the photo however sometimes things are moving so fast that you don’t have time to move something out of the way or perhaps it’s not possible to move it.
This is where the spot healing and cloning tool comes in handy!
Lightroom’s clone/healing tool is getting better with each update however there are times when you’ll sometimes need to jump over to Photoshop to get a slightly better result.
In the image below, on the wedding day I didn’t have time to move the objects on the right hand side so they were removed later in Photoshop resulting in a much more effective image.
That’s it for now! If you have any more questions about wedding photography editing tips please leave a comment below and stay tuned next week for another tutorial about ways to achieve a more ‘cinematic look’ in your wedding photography!