Denver Photographer Jeff Pistana

Photographer serving Denver, Boulder, Colorado and beyond

Please call: 303-665-7504E-mail

Photo Editing
I work hard to get photos looking as good in the camera as possible, so as to minimize editing. However, many photos can be improved with some adjustments. Everything I shoot receives a general edit where the following adjustments can be made:

There are 2 particular settings built into most cameras that affect the tint and color of photos.

The first is Picture Control (Nikon), also known as Picture Style (Canon). On Nikon cameras, the choices include: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, and Monochrome (Black and White). This is a subjective choice. I prefer the Vivid setting, as it has the richest colors and more contrast. I shoot in Vivid by default. In RAW file format, these choices can be freely and easily changed after a photo is taken. I am happy to shoot in whatever mode you prefer.

Here are examples of Picture Control Settings:
Picture Control Settings: VividPicture Control Settings: StandardPicture Control Settings: Neutral
Picture Control Settings: PortraitPicture Control Settings: LandscapePicture Control Settings: Monochrome

Another important setting is White Balance. Different light sources put out different colors of light. Generally, some light is more blue and some light is more red. Properly adjusting the white balance of the camera is necessary because cameras don't see colors the same that we do. Cameras need to be told what the colors are supposed to look like, which is known as white balance. White balance is determined by what kind of light you are shooting under, like sun, shade, flash, fluorescent, incandescent, and more. It can more accurately be measured in degrees Kelvin, typically ranging from 2000ish to up above 6000 degrees.

If the white balance is wrong, your pictures will look greenish, or bluish, or reddish, or something else entirely.

Luckily, most cameras have an Auto White Balance setting, which usually works pretty well. But not always. That's why I always shoot in RAW (NEF) file format, which allows you to fully adjust the white balance after the fact just in case you're not happy with the initial settings.

It's common that buildings of all types have a mix of different colored lighting inside, which might be mixed with natural light too. Those situations make it most challenging to get the correct white balance.

After Picture Control and White Balance, the most common adjustments I typically perform are:

-Cropping, which I use to remove unwanted elements and space.
-Exposure, to brighten or darken images.
-Sharpening, to improve the crispness of photos.
-Straightening, to level crooked images.

Beyond these basic adjustments, more advanced edits are possible.
These can include:

-Removing blemishes from faces, etc.
-Removing unwanted elements from photos.
-Removing unwanted backgrounds.
-Face Swapping. Face swapping? Yes, it is even possible to perform face transplants. When shooting groups of people, there will always be multiple exposures, to assure we get at least one take with everybody looking good. Sometimes, everybody looks great in one photo except for one person. But that person looks great in another photo. Assuming that everyone is in the same position, I can copy the best face onto the photo with the other best faces. I don't do this often, but it is possible.

Here is an example of a potentially good shot that is poorly lit and has a lot of distractions. I love this photo, but I don't like the power lines and the poor exposure. Normally, I would strive to frame this shot without all that stuff in the background, but life happens fast and you don't always get things set up perfectly. You have to get it while it's hot.

So, I got rid of the power lines. I also didn't like the boy walking into the girl's head, so I got rid of him too, and used the clone stamp to phase him out and replace him with wall, trees, and mulch.
Girl on swing uneditedGirl on swing, 1st editGirl on swing, 2nd edit
I didn't like how the yellow pole seemed to be coming right out of the girl's mouth, and through the boy on the swing.  It looks weird. So, I got rid of it, too.

Now you can see some of what is possible to improve an otherwise less-than-perfect photo.  Again, I always try to get 'em perfect in the camera, but it's an imperfect world and the ball doesn't always bounce the way we want it to.

I'm a minimalist, and when the light and composition are right, I don't think you need to do much to a photo to improve it. The most common edit I perform by far is simple cropping, which can dramatically improve a photo all by itself.
Girl on swing, 3rd edit

In my opinion, some photographers get a little too carried away with editing. Just because you can do something to change a photo, doesn't mean you should.

Please call:  303-665-7504Email:
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