Photography is very subjective, with very many different styles and techniques. The belief that getting everything right in camera so no editing is needed is the best way. If you choose to keep photos raw and how you captured them, then I am all for that. Personally, I have found constructive progress in my photography through the editing process and this blog is based on that.
Like all photographers in a wilderness space, my goal is to create and capture unique images – helped along by my colleagues and people around me in conjunction with the fact that I am fortunate enough to be frequently working in nature.
This does come with some of the inherent challenges of wildlife photography, whether it is limitations on gear you own or have rented, having to be in the right position and ready for that millisecond opportunity to take a photo or the challenging lighting conditions. In my opinion, photo editing software and a good understanding of how to use it are quite possibly the most important tools in my photography toolkit.
After a few Lightroom sessions whereby I sit with a guest and they vent their frustration because they haven’t captured the shot they wanted. We then have a good laugh together, and I always try to emphasize that the image they want also requires an immense amount of patience and luck. Having a good camera is important in wildlife photography, but not as critical as luck, timing, and editing.
I have spent several years working in Lightroom now. It was so daunting when we, as trainees, got introduced into the photographic studio at Londolozi. Fear crept in as this ‘crazy’ software was introduced that we would one day need to explain to guests.
Shortly after taking to photography, I learned that the ability to edit an image is a great tool. Did it take a long time to get comfortable with Lightroom? Not at all. It is an incredibly intuitive photo editor and extremely user-friendly. The majority of the guides at Londolozi use lightroom to edit but I am fully aware that there is other software that is just as good and if they work for you and you get what you want out of your image, that’s the ultimate goal.
I see editing as a tool that takes that image from a memory and transforms it into a form of art.
You can sit with anyone that uses editing software and learn a few tricks of the trade from them. With some images, it can be very apparent that they have been edited and this can be on purpose to get a certain effect that the photographer wanted. Some images have slight touch-ups to amplify the subject in the photo. Some images are edited so well that it’s not even apparent to the naked eye that any changes have taken place.
Editing your images can be just another layer to photography and it is something you or anyone can do to apply their own artistic and subjective ability to obtain something out of an image that is so unique. Nobody will ever edit a photograph in the exact same way. You and I may be in the same moment in nature and have a good camera, critical luck, and timing, capture an image that is identical but through editing, create something unique to each of us.
For the amount of time and energy I put into capturing one image (often months), it’s comforting to know that I can get the most out of it through my photo editing software. I encourage you to give it go and see what magic you can create with your editing.