Before & After

26 Mar

Before & afters are fun to see.

I always enjoy seeing other photographers photos, pre & post processing. I love that little peek of what they really look like before using the wonderful tool that is Photoshop. Or for those of you that use it, Lightroom.

Most of the time it’s just color adjustments, maybe filters and some actions, but nothing too different from the original.

Photoshop can be good and bad. I’d rather take a really great photo and spend a short amount of time processing it than take a photo that could have used more thought and spend too much time in Photoshop.

I think the test of a great photographer is how much time they have to spend in the editing process to make their photos look good. You shouldn’t have to let Photoshop speak for the quality of your photos. Your photos should speak for themselves!

I’m no professional photographer. I don’t claim to know it all. I don’t even claim to actually know what I’m talking about at any given time, BUT in my experience the more changes you make to your photos, the more it takes away from them. I don’t even like to use vignettes as much as I used to because I’ve come to appreciate the naturalness of a photo without all the fix-it-ups.

But there are exceptions. Believe me, there are exceptions.

Let’s start out with this before & after.. very simple, no big changes.

Here you have my beautiful sister Danae. I shot this photo behind my Minnesota home in the swamp area where everything is shaded, lush and green. The original photo had lots of green tones in it, but a good photo overall. All I did was lighten it up and add some yellow and blue tones. It is still green, but her skin tone improved a lot and she stands out more.


This next photo was taken of little Olivia in her backyard on a bright sunny day.

The original colors and exposure aren’t too bad. Definitely fixable with little trouble. In this case it was more of what was going on in the background. A rooftop, fence, and mom’s hand. I didn’t want it to look like I tried too hard to fix it, and her pose was too cute to scrap it all together, so I had to do something. I cropped it slightly, which helped with some of the background, but the hand and rooftop were still there. So I took those out. Then I blurred and lightened the fence quite a bit which made Olivia more of the focus. Even though the fence is still there, you don’t really see it as much as before. Then I ran a PS action and called it quits!

This photo was taken with the stock lens that comes with the Canon 50D, before I got my 50mm lens. So now with my 50mm I have more control of how blurry the background is.


Another one of Danae on a very sunny day.

I was very worried this photo was completely ruined. I’m totally convinced that this was 70% my fault and 30% the elements. Her back was to the sun and the background was over exposed because of it. But I placed her that way so she wasn’t making faces and squinting into the sun. That doesn’t make for flattering pictures. πŸ™‚ Also the wind was blowing through her hair facing the way she was.

This is a perfect example of why I shoot RAW.

No, that doesn’t mean I photograph in the buff.

When bringing a RAW photo into photoshop you are presented with this wonderful pre edit screen where you can adjust exposure, tones, fill light, recover washed out pixels, contrast, brightness, clarity, vibrance etc. I was done before I even started!

So I did what I could in that screen and everything else was “by hand”. Or by which ever tool I needed. I had to fix the really bad shadows on her face. That was tedious. But in the end, it turned out to be a nice picture. You can’t really tell I did much unless you were to see the before picture, which I have shamelessly presented to you.

Why am I doing this again?



One of my more recent, drastic photo edits was from the Kramer Station shoot.

For my die hard fans, (Hi MOM!) I’m sure you’ve seen this photo of Anna from our shoot a few weeks ago.

I bet you never would have guessed there used to be a cute boy standing next to her. So I’m here to tell you.. there was!

I really loved how Anna was standing. A natural, relaxed stance. No posing. So I decided I’d see if I could take Elias out, and see what it looked like after.

I personally think it turned out good! Almost like he was never there. It’s not perfect, but you wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t show you!

Sometimes I thank God for the Content-Aware function in PS.


One last one.

Danae again during one of our days shooting her senior pictures.

We were in Bemidji, MN for a mini vaca and I snapped a few senior pictures of her. It was dusk and this was one of the last photos I got of her that day. In the original photo you can see Paul Bunyan and Babe in the background. That wasn’t going to do. Again, with the Content Aware function, I was able to fix it up in a snap! Then all that was left was brightening it up, and having fun with PS actions. It actually ended up being one of my more easier fixes.

So there you have it. Normally I do small fixes, but there are times where that just isn’t enough. The drastic changes are always more fun to see. πŸ™‚


2 Responses to “Before & After”

  1. Tracy Mailey March 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Your pictures always look great! I love seeing what you will post next.

    • lifesjoyphotography March 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      Thanks Tracy!

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