ADAPT FOR THE SCENE
Edit for subject content and luminosity
The photographer should essentially have one of two aims when deciding how to edit an image: to either correct or create. Some images have a very simple function – to provide a photographic record for example, and in these cases technical precision is the primary value. For shots like these, a neutral colour balance and centred exposure would be the goal. When a photographer is attempting to create a discernible style however, pushing image parameters to their extremes is usually the best strategy for identifying their artistic likes and dislikes, from which they can build a replicable processing recipe.
Repetition is a key characteristic of a successful editing style, as only when a similar look can be applied to multiple images can a common theme be recognisable across a portfolio. However, it is also important to establish how best to introduce these characteristics to each scene, on an imagespecific basis. Applying a blanket process to every image is not advisable, since the range of highlights and shadows and the ambient colour balance will differ from location to location, meaning that some files may appear over-processed while others will be lacking in effect strength. Although the basic actions will remain the same, customisation will help to ensure that your style fits with any subject or lighting condition.
Sometimes this in itself can help a photographer find the core structure for their editing regime. It is a common practice to adopt certain colours and exposure work for different types of scene – subject context, environment and age all have styles that viewers have become accustomed to seeing. Modern architectural shots often receive greater contrast for example, while it has become popular for golden-hour landscapes to feature expanded dynamic range. Therefore, it is useful to try inverting settings in order to yield novel results.
Pairing contemporary subjects with classic effects could be the catalyst for a more surreal method, as would using cross-processed toning for natural landscapes. Employing common techniques in new contexts can reveal extraordinary and unexpected impact to which your audience is drawn, purely because they are unable to identify why your images look different to the multitude of similar photographs they may have recently observed.
Far right BROAD EXPOSURE For images with a wide range of brightness, you must consider how this will dilute or concentrateyour chosen editing effects Right CONSIDERCONTENT If your style involvesboosts to certain colour channels, beaware that some scenes may have a bias towards thosecolours already