Last year we covered photography mistakes, but what about post processing blunders that can leave you forever embarrassed? Here is a collection of common post production mistakes that can turn you rosy red and how to avoid them.
Shooting RAW when you shouldn't be. For some reason digital photographers feel the need to always shoot in RAW because it provides the most flexibility and highest quality end product. I couldn't agree more! But, it's not always the right choice, the need to shoot RAW needs to be determined before you start shooting. Furthermore, a firm understanding of how to properly post produce an image is needed. Most great photographers I know are just that – great photographers, but not amazing post production people! There's a reason professionals utilize a team of digital artists to provide their end result – they'd rather be shooting, which is what they're good at. JPG isn't always the answer, but neither is RAW, there must be a balance.
Color correcting on an uncalibrated monitor. I can't emphasize or bold this enough! Regardless if you shoot RAW or JPG, you can't do any color correcting or adjustment with regards to highlight and shadow detail or hue and saturation without a properly calibrated monitor. Utilizing a hardware puck and proper software is the only way to properly and accurately adjust any part of a digital photo, otherwise you might as well make corrections with your eyes closed. If you really cannot do that, you could try to calibrate your monitor manually, but it's not an ideal solution.
Converting to the wrong color space. If you are making prints, assume that you should always be in RGB or sRGB color space – this is after all what your camera shoots in. Regardless of what you read on the Internet, CMYK format is rarely used in the photo printing industry unless you are working with a traditional print lab, not a photographic print company. All that will happen is a either a phone call from your photo lab or a surcharge to you order to do a file conversion back into RGB so the printers can handle the files.
Not saving your unedited originals.
When you're done editing and save your photos, don't save over the originals or toss them because you figure you've got it edited how you like. Trends come and go and a few years from now your heavily vignetted, cross processed and Lomo'fied post processing might look tacky and unattractive. Always give yourself a way to go back to the unedited, original file.
Show your best, KEEP your worst. Just because you can upload a near unlimited amount of photos to Flickr, Facebook and even your own site, not learning to properly edit down what you show the world can be the worst mistake you ever make. Show only your best photos to friends, family and potential clients, keep the worst shots for photography message boards who offer honest critique and examine how you could better improve them. Learning from your mistakes is a crucial part of the process to becoming a better photographer. Deleting the worst photos doesn't help you in any other way then removing them from your site.
Post production is a needed and welcomed entry into the world of digital photography, provided you don't make these embarrassing mistakes. Take the time while editing to think about what you were shooting and why, then utilize that thought process in how you edit your photos for the best results.