I often receive emails and messages through social media asking about my editing process. People seem to be interested in how I achieve these colors and tones in my photographs so I decided to share with you some "before and afters" of my work.
For my craft, I use mostly two cameras: A Canon 6D and a Fujifilm XT1. I decided to incorporate images taken with both cameras to show that I can get the results that I want following the same process in Lightroom. After working mainly with Canon for so many years and learning and improving my editing style over and over, I'm finally able to decide on location how I want my image to look like. If it is a bright day, I will usually under expose in order to get details in the sky. I have already mentioned somewhere, that I am not a huge fan of blue sky days. Unless I have a scheduled session or there is no other way I will be in that location on another moment, I usually don't photograph on those days. As you can see in my work, I much prefer a darker and moodier atmosphere, because that is how I also edit my photographs. So the first tip that I can share is to see if the light and ambiance outside is something you can work with when you are post processing. I make the time to go out, shoot and scout for new locations every week, and most of the days I know if I will be able to get something portfolio worthy or not just based on that.
My Canon 6D works pretty well in low light, so most of my images are under exposed in order to get more information from the highlights and pull out details from the shadows. The advantage of my Fujifilm XT1 is the EVF. Ever since I discovered the electronic viewfinder I really wish I could have one in my 6D, too. Exposing has become much easier and while I'm composing I can adjust how I want my photograph to look like. Also, when I'm photographing with my Fuji I often change my settings to black and white in order to see clearly all the details in the shadows. The learning curve of post processing with the Fuji however, has been more difficult. In the beginning, I was not too happy with how I was editing landscapes but I loved how the portraits and cityscapes looked like. After way too many hours and months editing, I have finally achieved the look that I am looking for and I can now edit landscapes without a problem. The majority of my photographs from Norway were taken with the XT1 and they are probably some of my favorite images ever.
In the beginning, I used to custom edit every single image. However, over the years, I have created my own presets and I have found an editing style that I am comfortable with. A year ago or so, I found out about VSCO presets and I got their last package on which I base the majority of the presets that I use nowadays. Some of my favorites are 400H+++, Portra 160+++ and TRI-X*3++. I have tweaked them over and over until I have finally found the look that I want.
In these before and after shots you will see a huge difference between both images. Some people prefer a more natural color, similar to what it looked like in reality. However, I believe that post processing is part of the artistic process of creativity, so the outcome of my images is sometimes too different from what it looked like in camera. I must admit I barely know anything about Photoshop, so all the differences you see are a result of working extensively in the Hue, Saturation and Luminance panel of Lightroom, as well as in Curves, Split Toning and sometimes in Profile Calibration sliders. I believe those are the real tricks of editing and finally achieving the look that you are searching for.
These are some before and after images of my recent work. Let me know in the comments or drop me an email if you have any tricks in your process or how do you edit your work. I'm also thinking about making a video where I show how I edit a full session. Maybe with my upcoming trip to Iceland over the Christmas holidays, that can be something you might be interested in watching.
Click on the images to see in full screen mode. Enjoy!