What if you didn’t have Photoshop or Lightroom?

I had a great talk with Jerry from PWD labs a little while back about post production and how much we can really rely on editing to fix our mistakes or lack of knowledge. The question that popped into my mind was “What if we didn’t have Photoshop or Lightroom”? Would we think differently while shooting if we didn’t have these tools to correct things after the image. I think that we definitely would and sometimes can use post production as a crutch. Getting the shot right in camera and having a mental image of your final print in your mind when shooting is still as important as ever in this digital age. Here are a few top tips on things we should all master when shooting that will make the post production much more of a breeze.

1) Exposure – One of the most important parts about photography is exposure but with some of the recent advances in technology is sometimes overlooked. With all professional DSLR’s now having full auto modes that actually can work pretty good many times, photographers have relied on shooting in P mode (program mode which is all auto). I even heard a top speaker at WPPI awhile back say that P is for Professional. Although cameras are smarter today than years past they still will be fooled easily with tricky lighting situations. If you want great images it all starts with exposure and the best way to get a good exposure all of the time is to take your camera off P. The best way to really get your exposure where you want it and also learn a lot about how exposure works is to shoot in manual. It gives you the opportunity to think about your settings and make sure that you have the shutter and aperture set for a specific reason and will allow you to fine tune the exposure so when you are ready to finally click the shutter it’s spot on. You might need a few more minutes to run a test shot or two through but it’s worth it to have that consistent exposure. Since I shoot mainly weddings I do also use Aperture priority from time to time depending on how quick light is changing. But when shooting in Aperture priority remember to use the Exposure compensation and adjust that up or down depending on whats in your frame. If I have a group of guys with black tuxes on i’ll turn down the exposure by at least 1-2 stops depending on how much black is in the frame and vice versa if shooting a white dress. Remember the cleaner your exposure the better the final images will look and less time you will spend in editing.

2) White Balance – Getting a good white balance from the start is another key to capturing great images. I always suggest to people to NEVER have your camera on Auto white balance. The main reason is you can shoot a series of photos all in a similar situation but depending on the exact light and whats being reflected in the frame the camera might slightly change the white balance. So when editing instead of being able to batch correct the color for a hundred images that were all taken during an outdoor ceremony you have to adjust each one separately. I always use the closest setting based on my preference for skin tones, many times which will be using the sun setting. If its a little off its really not a big deal the key is that every image will have the exact same white balance so be quick to correct them all at once with Lightroom. Check out our past article for more info on Creating The Correct White Balance In Camera.

composition3) Composition – Another key element that should be thought about before clicking the shutter is the composition. Although you can crop later with Lightroom or Photoshop the composition of the shot should be thought about while taking the image. We should all have a vision for each shot and really think hard about what the image should look like and say before clicking on that shutter button. I also think about composition and the final product. Since we do a lot of albums for our wedding clients there are lots of images I need specifically for the album like background images and details that have negative space to include other images over. Before you click the shutter take one quick second to look around the edges of your frame, maybe move a foot to the right or left and make sure you have everything framed just how you want it before clicking on that button.

Just a few quick tips today on how we can all capture better images and continue to improve our art! Remember to always post questions on our Facebook wall or in a comment, I love to hear your questions and will always answer them. Have a great week everyone.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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