If Photo Editing Isn’t About Apps & Sliders, What’s It About?

Photo editing has matured over the years. There are so many apps out there that do so many different things, yet so many things that are similar. It gets really confusing. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t seen an Exposure, Shadows, or Detail slider before. With phones, apps, etc… you’ve almost certainly come across these sliders several times whenever you open a photo to edit.


So, it’s not about sliders anymore. I think it’s more about the vision for the photo. The creative process of bringing a beautiful image out of a photo. Like it or not, your experience while at some place taking a photo makes an impact on how you see the scene. Things that aren’t naturally bright, may still draw more attention to you because of what’s going on in that area. So many things affect how we see a scene that’s right in front of us.


But when you take that photo, and show it to someone else on a computer screen or print on the wall, they’re going to have a different feeling than you. To me, photo editing is about making the viewer see what I and the photographer saw in the image…and that’s where post-processing comes in. Photo editing is more about how bright we make things. How dark we leave the shadows? How much do we boost the colors and how detailed should something really look? What should I brush to make brighter, and more of a focal point in the photo? What should I brush darker, to hide? How much sharpening is too much? That’s the beauty of crafting a photo on our computer and bringing the scene that we experienced to others. It’s knowing what to do with the skin, how bright to make it, how to retouch the eyes to make them standout and how dark to make the background. It’s about learning how to read a histogram and adjusting the white balance…about blending the background to focus attention on the subject(s).

These before and after (antes+después) images could have been done in any of a dozen programs that all use the same sliders, brushes and settings. But you need to develop the “eye” for knowing how much sharpening is too much or not enough. Where to add detail and how much to add. After that, the process and results are pretty much the same. The only thing that differs is what app you choose to make the adjustments in.

With all the apps available today, I believe post-processing has been commoditized…and I think photo editing should be more about the art of the edit, vision of the photograph and knowing the right tools to get it there…not the sliders.

It’s not about the app you use anymore. It’s about how you see the photo and how you want others to see it. The app you use is irrelevant.

In the end, the result is subjective and no two edits will ever be the same. Here’s my take of two iPhone photos taken under less than optimum circumstances.

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