Photo Editign for Beginners - Start Here


When you're new to photography and editing your photos, trying to learn everything can become overwhelming and frustrating.

When you start, and you're not quite sure where to begin your photo editing, I'm going to give you some pro tips on exactly where to start your editing because I know that learning photography itself, there's a lot of information that you need to learn, like your camera settings, your camera in general, how it works, and how to get the most out of it, composition lighting.
photo editing for beginners

Once you create a photo, you have to edit it and choose which editing software to use. This is a whole different discussion, and we won't cover it today.

However, many photo editing software programs share the same editing tools.

Some will have something different or unique.

Still, most of them have the same universal editing tools, like Tone Values, Tone Curves, and HSL, which stands for…
  • Hue
  • Saturation
  • Luminance
As well as lens correction, vignettes, denoise, and sharpening, to name a few

And if you learn one software, you can switch to another.

Once you have that knowledge, you can then transfer that to that new software.

We're just going to cover the bare minimum. I want to get you started on photo editing immediately for immediate results.

We will start with the bare minimum, using this image as an example. I will show you how to edit this image in under 30 seconds.

I'm going to share that in just a moment.

First, we must examine your image's tonal values because photo editing begins with those adjustments.

What are the tonal values?

Well, the tonal values represent the data or the information of the scene in terms of pixels regarding luminance values or the brightness levels of those details.

You can see a visual representation of those values, those luminance values, via the histogram.

In my free four-hour photography course, I have about 20 to 25 minutes of in-depth instruction about the histogram.

We won't discuss that now, but learning more about the histogram will help you edit your images better and faster.

Once you understand the histogram and what all those values mean.

For today, the basics are you have blacks, which are the darkest points of the image, and the brightness levels are the darkest.

Next, we have the shadows, which are a little brighter; the mid-tones are a little brighter; and the highlights.

Followed by the whites (which is pure white).

And if you take a look down, here we have our highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks, and then the exposure (which are the mid-tones)

If I adjust the exposure, you can see how that histogram moves left to right or right to left, depending on how I adjust the exposure.

This has been the starting point since 2002 as a digital photographer. That's when I started the transition from film to digital in 2002.

I've photographed and edited over a million photos, including thousands of portrait sessions, over 500 weddings, thousands of landscapes, wildlife, and more.

I have extensive experience editing photos, and every photo I create starts with the photo editing process.

And when you get it right in the camera, sometimes, like for this image, you can edit it in under 30 seconds.

Let me show you how this works.

Most editing software has an auto button. This is a great starting point for photo editing because it has built-in AI technology.

It will review your image's many values and content and compare it to similar images.

And it's going to adjust these sliders down here automagically.

You may need to tweak these settings to fulfill your creative vision based on how you saw it when you shot it, or if you want to do something a little bit more creative, you can make those adjustments here.

I'm going to click the auto button. Let's start the timer, and then we'll lower the exposure slightly since I find it too bright.

Highlights are fine. Shadows, I'm going to bring down a little bit, whites up a little bit, and the blacks, I will bring up just a little bit.

I don't like to add contrast with this slider. I like to use Clarity and Dehaze.

I'm going to increase those just a little bit, which will add a little bit of contrast, and I will increase the saturation just a little bit. And that's it. The image is done.

Now, what about all these other editing tools down here?

I've already fulfilled my creative vision based on what I saw during the creation.

This is exactly how I saw this scene.

I don't need to add any other edits; otherwise, it will look unnatural or different from what I saw.

When it comes to landscapes, I like to create images based on how I saw them when I captured them.

If I want to do a creative edit and maybe add a little bit more of a sun flare or maybe change the colors a little bit, we have a lot of blue in these hills right here, which is fine because the sun is setting and it's not reaching the hills right here.

The sunlight is not filling in there.

The color of light will be bluer, which was when I created this image, so I want to stay true to what I saw.

But I could come in here and adjust these other settings based on individual colors to either change them or boost those colors.

If that's something I want to do, then I can do that.

But when you start editing for the first time, you're new to photo editing. This is where you want to start with the tonal values.

Then, as you learn more about the other editing tools, how they work, and how they can help you fulfill your creative vision, you can add these in after the fact.

I want to mention that not all images will be this easy to edit.

For example, the image of this waterfall I recently shot in Kentucky was much more advanced in terms of the edit settings applied.

I have a tone curve, and I have a vignette.

I also have the color mixer that I just talked about here.

I've boosted the saturation of the yellows and the greens, and I've also added all these individual masks here that will allow me to target those areas with specific edits.

So, you'll need to learn a whole new skill set to create the type of images you want. Watch these tutorials next.
Picture of Parker
A 30-year photography pro with a desire to help you achieve your creative vision! Facebook | Youtube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.