8 common photo editing mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Today’s photo editors provide many features, so it’s very difficult not to over-edit a photo. We all make these mistakes, but it’s important that we don’t make them all the time. Let’s get to the bottom of the most common photo editing mistakes and avoid making them.

If you’re just starting your journey into post-processing, you definitely need to learn about the best apps to change background. You can find a list of them on Skylum’s blog. In addition, there are many more interesting topics there.

Over-saturated colors

When you first open an image, the colors may initially look a little flat, as if they lacked saturation. Even if you experience this feeling, it doesn’t mean that you need to increase the saturation and vibrancy to stunning amounts.

Instead, keep things subtle, referencing the original regularly. And if you want to increase a particular color, instead of a generic approach, consider using the Color Mixer panel to determine the saturation of a single color range.

Heavy-handed clarity

The Clarity slider in Camera Raw/Lightroom is a great tool. It’s not for nothing that beginner photographers love and appreciate so much: it’s very easy to use. However, if you overdo it, the picture will become brittle, so it will look unnatural. 

Instead of changing the whole image, try applying Clarity selectively with the adjustment brush. We’re sure that you’ll be pleased with the result! If you want to work with the background, try free apps to change photo backgrounds. They are very simple and easy to use.

Excessive eye lightening

As soon as digital technology became available, photographers who wanted to improve their portraits began to sin with excessive eye lightening. If the lightening is kept to a minimum, the photo will benefit, but if you over-lighten it, your face will look like a cyborg mask.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to perfectly lighten the eyes in Lightroom:

  • Paint over the whites of the eyes with the correction brush;
  • Slightly increase the exposure;
  • Make a new correction, paint over the iris and increase the saturation, clarity, and exposure;
  • Paint around the edges of the iris and reduce the exposure to darken the rim slightly.

Remember that changing the background can also improve the overall composition of the portrait. Use apps that change backgrounds to try it out!

Flat black and whites

When we convert an image to black and white, it may initially look a bit flat. The thing is, some photos just weren’t meant to be black and white. That’s why you shouldn’t change them at all. But for other images, simply enhancing with curves can bring black and white to life. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Draw an S-curve by dragging one point up at the top of the diagonal curve line to raise the highlights and a second point at the bottom to deepen the shadows.
  • Add a third point in the middle to control the brightness of the mid-tones. 
  • Change the S-shape to increase or decrease contrast.

Plastic skin

When editing a photo, we always want to improve our model. Unfortunately, plastic skin is the result of overzealousness. 

If you want a natural skin-softening effect without much manipulation, try painting over the area with the Lightroom adjustment brush set to about -30 Texture. This will make the skin look more beautiful and keep it from looking like plastic.

Overindulgent shadows

Modern camera manufacturers in recent years have been creating some truly great equipment. Even in the dimmest light, they are capable of capturing an enormous amount of detail. However, for many photographers, this is not enough, so they start increasing the shadows.

Harsh shadow enhancement tends to give images an overly processed HDR-like look. Instead, try gently opening up the shadows, or drawing in a positive exposure with a corrective brush. Sometimes the best solution is not to do anything. This will leave your subject looking as natural as possible.

Dark skies

The problem with landscape and outdoor photography is often balancing the sky and the ground. The sky tends to be brighter, so it often benefits from darkening. However, this is an effect that photographers very often overdo. There is also the temptation to increase contrast and clarity when the sky is dim or overcast, but that almost always leaves them unnatural. Be careful if you don’t want your picture to look like a postcard with nothing real in it.

Effects for the sake of it

If your image is edited well, it will benefit from it. But remember the golden rule: A good photo doesn’t need an effect to make it better. In fact, effects like “artistic” filters and crisp HDR can do more harm than good.

To summarize

These 8 mistakes we’ve told you about are the main ones you shouldn’t make at all. Instead of relying on post-processing, learn how to take a good photo. Then it will minimize your use of photo editors. And if you’re on the lookout for the best apps to change backgrounds, head over to Skylum’s blog! Professional photographers talk about complicated things simply and interestingly, so beginners and experts alike can find interesting articles for themselves.