Behind the Edit - V12 Edition

Thanks to all of those who gave me feedback about the first edition of 'Behind the Edit' series. I really appreciate everyone who took the time out to read it and letting me know your thoughts. If you haven't yet read it, you can find it here

The second instalment is again brought to you by the AMG Club ACT website shoot. This time we'll be using a shot of a beautiful SL65.

Here's where we'll end up after the edits. 

Final image

Again, the process starts with the RAW image straight out of the camera. This image provides a great example of why most photographers don't provide their RAW files and also highlights the importance of the editing process. 

RAW image ready for the editing process to begin

Step 1 - Walk before you run
To perform all of my basic editing, photo culling and photo management I use Adobe Lightroom CC. With each photo I'll use Lightroom to apply copyright metadata and make basic adjustment to things such as: 

  • Exposure;
  • Crop;
  • Highlights / Shadows;
  • Whites / Blacks;
  • Saturation / Vibrance;
  • Clarity;
  • Hue / Saturation / Luminance of specific colours, and;
  • Apply lens correction profile.

With all the basic adjustments made, here's what the image looked like:

Basic Adjustments complete

Time to jump into Adobe Photoshop and make things disappear. 

Step 2 - BAM! And the dirt is gone
In the last blog, I spoke about the importance of removing distracting elements. Its a key difference between a good image and a great image. 

It is a fine balance between removing distractions and going overboard trying to remove every little rock, leaf, bit of rubber. I've highlighted the elements I removed in the shot below. 

Everything highlighted will be removed

With those elements removed we are now left with the image below, an image that is much cleaner and the eyes aren't distracted from the main subject. 

Stage 1 clean up complete

Step 3 - For my next trick, I'll make a car disappear! 
If you were thinking that I'd left missed a couple of distractions in the removal step you'd be right! The 'elephant in the room' of this shot is the white Navara to the right of the SL65. Again, I've highlighted the elements to be removed in this step. 

Stage 2 clean up 

This stage was by far the most frustrating and time consuming. Removing objects in photoshop is relatively easy, doing it in a way that is believable and doesn't catch peoples eye is the tricky bit.

Using a combination of photoshop tools (clone-stamp, healing brush and content-aware fill) and patience, the remaining distractions were removed leaving the image looking like this: 

Would you have spotted it if I hadn't told you? 

Step 4 - Almost there! 
The final step in photoshop was to make some minor tweaks and colour adjustments to really make the car pop. I isolated the car from the background as shown below and applied the finishing touches.

Apparently I was no good at colouring in between the lines at school... 

With the final adjustments made, I save the finalised shot and jumped back into Lightroom.

Step 5 - Put a fork in it, this turkey's done! 

With all the editing completed, I return to Lightroom to export the completed image. Here's how the image looked when it was 'finished'

Ready to go! or so I thought. 

My process is to leave the image alone for at least 3-4 hours and return to it to make sure I haven't gone too crazy with the edit and everything looks the way I wanted it to. This time I decided the image still needed something 'more' so I applied a radial filter and bumped up the exposure a smidge.


With the image now where I wanted it, I'll export it a number of times using different presets dictated by where the image will be used i.e Facebook, web, print, Instagram or here on the blog. 

As always, thanks for reading and I hope it provides an interesting insight into the effort behind an image. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on my process and feel free to reach out if you've got any questions!