This is a continuation from my previous articles Photography Basics: Editing and Intermediate Editing for Boudoir: Part 1. As such, if you are new to editing you should start with those first. In this post we will be covering the following topics.
HSL, Color, and B&W
Applying Edits on Import
As said before, I mainly use Lightroom. If you use another program some of the terms and tools used here might be different than what you are used to.
The histogram is a graph that represents the light tone intensity in your image. On the horizontal axis from the left to right we have the blacks, shadows at the ¼ mark, midtones in the middle, highlights at the ¾ mark, and finally whites on the far right, while the vertical axis represents the intensity of each tone.
When editing, the simplest way to use the histogram is to watch the triangles in the top corners. If the triangle to the left turns white it means you are clipping the shadows and if the triangle to the right turns white it means you are clipping the whites. To see where this is happening you can click on the triangle and the areas in question will turn red. Clipping is when an area of your photo has been over- or underexposed and is no longer displaying information. This is generally to be avoided as it produces images that are too bright or too dark in places.
Side Note: Most cameras have the option to show you the histogram while shooting. One of the great reasons to use this feature is that it allows you to prevent overexposing or underexposing your photo. Personally, I don’t use this feature as I prefer to underexpose by a stop to help preserve my highlights instead.
The tone curve is a favorite tool among photographers that took me a while to figure out. This feature gives you greater control over the tones in your image. Most photographers, myself included, use it to provide greater control over the contrast in an image when the contrast slider just isn’t giving the desired results. In all honesty, I don’t use it much which means I'm not the best person to teach the use of this tool. If you do want to learn how to use the tone curve. Here is the best video I have seen that shows you how it works.
HSL, Color, and B&W
The HSL, Color, and B&W panel is where we start to get more into color manipulation. The HSL and Color tabs do the exact same thing; the difference is in how they are organized. With the HSL tab it's broken down into sub tabs with each color under it (left Picture) whereas with the Color tab each color has Hue, Saturation, and Luminance listed underneath it (right Photo).
With the B&W tab you can manipulate the individual color tones that make up black and white images. Even though I love to shoot and edit in black and white, I have never actually used this panel. I prefer to focus on the black, white, highlight, and shadow sliders to edit my photos as I discussed in my first article on editing.
Split toning adds a second color to your highlights or shadows. While you would mostly use this to affect each of these separately, you can also choose to apply the effect to both at the same time. Depending on what color you choose it can have a variety of effects in your image.
Orange: When used for highlights it creates a warm glow similar to golden hour.
Blue: Creates a cooling effect similar to blue hour.
Teal: Gives your photo a cinematic feel.
Brown: Tones down colors.
Pink: Creates a blush effect.
While the norm is to only work with one color at a time, you can work with two if you wish. The standard practice when working with dual colors is to use ones that are complementary.
Applying Edits on Import
A good way to save time in post processing is to apply some of your edits on import. You will see the box above on the right side of your screen when importing photos into Lightroom. The way you apply these edits is through using presets. These are a selection of edits that you can quickly apply to your photo and there are three ways to get them. One, Lightroom comes with some built in. Two, buy them from someone who has already gone through the trouble of making them. Three, make them yourself. For example you can create a preset that applies only lens corrections on import or one that uses split toning to create that golden hour look. I found a nice video that walks you through the steps of not only applying your edits on import but creating them as well.
You can also apply metadata changes (such as a copyright statement) and keywords when importing your images.
Batch editing allows you to apply the same changes you made on one image to multiple. This is useful if you took several photos with the same lighting conditions. For example, I’ve taken up to ten images while working with one pose to get multiple looks. I was then able to apply a batch edit to all the photos after editing just one of them. Now, batch editing isn’t a magic wand you can wave to edit your photos to completion. There are still local edits(spot removal, brush tool, etc) that you might need to do, but batch editing will still save you a good chunk of time. To help show you how it’s done here is a video by the wonderful Julia Trotti to help you.
If you read my previous editing articles you should have a good knowledge base with which to edit your photos to a very high standard. If you are interested in learning more advanced editing, such as Photoshop, you will have to look elsewhere. I like to keep my edits simple, so I haven’t learned any of that up to this point.