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Editing Live Events

I know photographers who dismiss editing as cheating but in a world where Insta filters are an everyday thing; learning how to edit your photos can help you to develop your style and elevate your images. This is a very brief insight into my editing process. I'm not going to bore you with all the fine details, mainly because they vary from image to image, but I will allow you a little peak behind the curtain.

Firstly it is important to understand that I shoot all my images in RAW. As opposed to JPEGs, which is like shooting finished prints, RAW is like taking negatives; they contain all the information required to create your print but they need developing first.

1) After downloading all the photos from a event, I sort through all the images rating the ones that stand out. I use Adobe Bridge for this as it offers me the option of giving my images a star rating and I give the winning shots 5 stars.

The thumbnails of the Arizona Rocks Charity Concert

2) Next I select up to 20 images at a time and send them into the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

software. Here they go through some basic editing; checking exposure, tweaking colours and setting things like contrast, highlights, shadows, clarity and noise reduction. I also zoom right in to check them for sharpness, if they fail this test they get instantly binned.

Having repeated this process until all the 5 star images have been checked and tweaked, it's time for the finer retouching.

3) Now it's back into ACR for the finer edits. At this stage each picture is treated individually. Images are cropped to the required format/composition, small unwanted elements might be removed and topical exposure adjustments might be necessary to create better balance across the image. This is usually the most time consuming part of the process as it can't be automated or batch processed.

3) The next step depends on the type of shoot the images have come from. For the majority of events it's a simple case of saving the photos and then sending them off to the client, but some photos are more needy and aren't ready to go to their forever homes quite yet. Increasingly venues are switching to LED lighting as it is more flexible and cheaper to run, however the light given off isn't as bright and as a result the camera has to work harder. This results in an unacceptable amount of image noise which now needs addressing. These photos are sent from ACR straight into Photoshop where I apply my magic noise reduction filter. This is a really slow process as the pictures have to go through the filter one at a time, but the end results are definitely worth the extra effort and time.

Before and after the noise removal process (click to expand the image)

Before anyone comments; I have been told numerous times that I should be using Lightroom but I simply can't get on with it. I like using Photoshop. I've been using it for over 25 years and know it inside out. It works for me so why change. That said, I AM trying and you never know I might make the switch one day.

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