Changing my Photo Editing Approach

Curbar Edge winter sunrise, Peak District, UK
Winter sunrise on Curbar Edge, Peak District. Fuji X-T3 with 10-24mm lens. Further details in the blog post.

Over recent years I’ve become increasingly unhappy with my photography. Well it’s really my photo editing that I’m unhappy with. I feel that I’ve somehow become victim to the trend of colourful and overly saturated landscapes. But the more saturation and colour I use, the less I notice it which leads me to increase it further. It’s left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied which is where this week’s photo comes in.

I captured this image on Curbar Edge recently at sunrise. The temperature was cold at -4C (cold for the UK at least) and the sky filled with high, light cloud. On this morning the landscape had a lovely pink/blue tint to it. Initially the sky was strong and intensely colourful, and I shot quite a few images. My natural inclination was to favour those images but after working on them for a while I quickly tired. That’s when  I found I preferred this more subtle image.

This one’s from soon after sunrise when the light from the sun was just catching the foreground rocks and the edge in the distance. There’s something more real about this image that I like, and I think the colours are lovely and subtle. I don’t yet know how this will play out in my photography, but it could mark a change in direction for me.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 10-24 lens set to 10mm. The camera was set to ISO160 using f/14.0 giving a shutter speed of 1.2 seconds. It was tripod mounted and I used a 2 stop Kase ND Grad filter on the sky to balance the exposure with the ground.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

23 thoughts on “Changing my Photo Editing Approach

  1. I’ve come to the same conclusion. We have powerful editing tools at our disposal and my tendency has been to use them as a matter of routine, rather than selectively and tastefully. I started out as a painter, and I have to remind myself to think like a painter when editing a landscape photo: saturation and detail decrease as a function of distance (aerial perspective), and clouds can be left soft and not dehazed until excruciating detail is scratching your eyes.

    1. Very well put, and lets not forget distant haze appearing blue with warmer colours in the foreground.

  2. Wondering what your opinion / view of using bracketed exposures rather than grad filter please ?

    1. I think they both have their place and I do use both. I tend to prefer filters but that’s probably because I used to shoot slide film way back.

  3. I think the same, the overly saturated HDR style landscapes have become the ‘standard’. I do use the technique, but only on images which start out not being close to reality and need the push of oversaturation for impact.

    1. Yes, I’ve started to tire of some overly saturated images. I’ve also seen some beautiful images that are very subtle and realistic. I also think the software developers and their automation have a lot to answer for.

  4. Hi Robin,

    I think most of us are guilty about overly saturated colours, andcI think you’re image is beautiful and balanced with the colours vibrant and natural, but at the same time delicate and for that, so much more realistic. I think the lovely light adds so much atmosphere to the image..I for one, will try to show more restraint with my colours, thank to you’re lovely bslanced and beautiful image.


    John Houston

    1. Thank you. I must admit to having a couple of almost identical images shot around a minute apart. The earlier one doesn’t have the subtle light that this one shows and it doesn;t look nearly as nice.

  5. That’s a beautiful, subtle image. Without wanting to be a total curmudgeon, using anything but a wide lens, and not having distant detail as sharp as near could be two trends that would also add significantly to more subtlety in photography.

    1. I agree, but with this image I needed the wide-angle to get the foreground rock in. It’s the shape of the rock mirroring the edge in the distance that helps to draw the eye in. Without it the image becomes static and lifeless.

  6. Although my style of imaging is quite different from yours I lately started to add a B&W (carefully the fiter chosen in NIK) overlay to my -usually slightly over saturated- image. This reduced to 30-70 % brings just te mood I am after. Often I just reduce the opacity in some places and this improves my images often.

    1. I have to admit to also using a similar technique from time to time and it does work very well.

  7. Before I had read your accompanying text, i looked at the image as i opened the page and thought: that’s *really* nice.

  8. Love those muted tones.
    And like others I’m certainly ‘over’ the high saturated, in your face, it couldn’t possibley have looked like that colour/tone shots.

    A subtle sepia or selenium tone out of Silver Efx pro probably does it for me these days.

    I suppose we’ve become both immune and conditioned to those out of gamut colours that we scarely see the sublte tones and textures any more.

    Hope your enjoy your new found vision and direction.

  9. Beautiful work, the subtle tones work very well. I used to love Lightroom when editing my Nikon raw files. Somehow I struggle a bit with Lightroom editing Fuji XT-3 files and tend to use PS a lot more.

    1. Lightroom isn’t good with the Fuji RAW files unless you first convert them using the “Enhanced Details” option. If you don’t mind using an extra plugin, XTransformer will convert the RAF file to a DNG file which then looks great when edited with either Lightroom or Photoshop.

      1. What a great Christmas gift to read your reply🙏🏻I wonder how I can use the enhanced details … and where do I get the the XTransformer .. ? Happy Christmas 🎄 hope it was a wonderful one 😊🤶🏻

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