Editing Part 2: Is it a keeper?

Sunrise and reflections on the beach at Jericoacoara, Brazil.

In the previous post, I discussed my process for editing images.  During the first pass over a group of images, I either flag, reject or ignore a photo.  The flagged photos are the ones that I want to come back to again.  The photos that I ignore are the ones that make me go “eh,”  as they are neither “good” nor “bad” in my opinion.  The images that get rejected are the ones I don’t want to see again, these are the accidental shots, the out of focus shots, and the terrible exposure shots.  Often those images, are the first in the sequence of working toward the shot that I really want.  For example, when shooting creative motion, I often have to experiment to get the right shutter speed for the motion of the subject.  If I “reject” the ones that just didn’t work, then I can filter them out, so that I don’t have to see them again.

So, what are the qualities that I look for when deciding which are good, or at least are worth a second look?  Listed below are a few of the key points that I consider when critiquing images during the first edit. By no means is this list totally inclusive, but it will give you an idea of the questions I consider when making the first pass of images.

Shadows of a nearby roof are cast on this old wall and yellow door in Paraty, Brazil.

  • Light: Interesting lighting can provide the opportunity to turn an ordinary subject into an interesting photograph.  On the other extreme, dull lighting can make a boring photograph of an interesting subject.

    The steps of Lapa created by artist Selaron. The steps have been a work in progress since 1990, when the artist began covering them with tiles from all over the world.

  • Interesting subject: An interesting subject doesn’t necessarily make an good photo, but it’s a good place to start.  Is the subject of the photograph obvious? Have I successfully communicated to the viewer what I want them to see? Have I found a unique perspective on the subject?
  • Composition:  Does the composition of the image help draw the viewers eye to the subject, or does it successfully move the viewers gaze around the photograph?  Is there a strong focal point?Are there distracting elements that compete with the subject, if so can the image be cropped to remove the distractions?

    Vendor at the Fortaleza fish market is showing off the shrimp for sale.

  • Focus:  Is the main part of the subject sharp?  If the image has selective focus, is the part that is sharp important? If the image is not sharp, is the blur intentional and creative?
  • Exposure: Is the image properly exposed?  Are there details in the highlights and shadows?  If I’m unsure, I’ll look at the histogram, and maybe open it up in the develop module to make sure the information is there to work with.  If the exposure is not technically “perfect” does the exposure enhance the mood or feeling of the image?

About emilynaff

Photographer, Traveler, Teacher
This entry was posted in Photography, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Editing Part 2: Is it a keeper?

  1. Beautiful! Especially love that first shot.

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