Editing Process

Jake Saxman Insights

Hey guys! My goal with this new website is to be a tad more personable and give y'all some insight into my work and process. So to kick things off I figured I'd begin with how I go about editing my photos.

It all begins in Adobe Lightroom. If you're getting into photography and post-processing, I couldn't recommend this program enough. You take out your SD card, stick that baby in your computer, and click import in Lightroom. I have it set to automatically catalogue and save the photos to my hard drive and sort them by date. There's a multitude of ways you can set things up to catalogue your pictures and save them accordingly. This simple fact makes dealing with the tens of thousands of images I have remarkably easier. 

So you've imported your work and are presented with the Library tab shown here. 

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This where I begin. It's a long process and probably the hardest when it comes to decision making (at least for me). I go through every single photo I shot and 'flag' those that I like and plan to edit. Like I said, I find it surprisingly difficult to make the right selections here when I have a 1000+ images to sort through. 

After I've selected my winners I head on over to the develop tab and am presented with this next view.

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Lightroom is where I do the majority of my exposure and color adjustment. I generally begin with the basic exposure controls, brighten it up, bring out some shadows, etc. This is usually a quick process as it's not too difficult to determine what looks good and what simply doesn't work.

Next up I hit the coloring controls where you adjust the tones of the highlights and the shadows. I'm a simple man and am well aware of the power of orange and blue tones combined, so they are often my go-to combination. This too usually requires little time getting just set up just the way I like.

Lastly, I hit up the specific color controls within Lightroom. This is where you can adjust the saturation and luminance of the specific colors in the image. This part can make or break a photo in my opinion. Crank the oranges (skin tones) too far in one direction or the other and you'll toe the line between what looks great or straight up fake. I spend the majority of my time in Lightroom messing with these until I'm satisfied then make some minor exposure adjustments to finish it off.

Now my photo is usually about 90% to where I want it to be, as seen below.

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Last, but certainly not least, is the fabled Adobe Photoshop.

If Lightroom is for my macro edits, Photoshop is for the micro. This is where I delve into the little fixes to clean it all up. I almost always start with the history brush to clean up skin blemishes and little imperfections that stand out. I then go through a process called frequency separation that I learned online and added my own preferences to. This process helps soften up and smooth a person's skin whilst retaining the texture so it doesn't appear to be a straight airbrush. I'll then go through and sharpen important features with a brush after this and often add sharpening to the image as a whole on top of that.

Sometimes I'm more less done at this point but in specific cases I'll go through the image with a liquify tool to move things around to my liking. This is kinda considered cheating by some as it's literally altering the objects in the image, but hey, I like things to look a certain way so too bad. 

Next I'll add some more color if appropriate and redo the exposure levels to get them just perfect one more time. Lastly, I'll crop the image to my liking (sometimes this is actually the hardest part) and click save, and with that I'm all done.

I realize this post was in pretty general terms, but would be happy to go into detail if anyone was curious. Below is the before and after from this shoot to give y'all an idea of what it looks like straight from camera to my finalized edit. So yeah, I hope this was somewhat interesting and possibly even helpful to someone getting started with photography. More to come!

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You can view the rest of this shoot with Magyn here!