Photo editing tools should come with a warning. Allow me to demonstrate why.
Let’s start with a photo of my buddy Chris goofing off on some swings. It was a quick candid, and I didn’t really prep for the shot, so the mechanics are a little blah. But whatever … it’s a fun pic that isn’t meant to win any awards. End of story, right?
But no! I have a whole arsenal of photo tricks to pull. And they’re all pretty bad ideas.
1. Let’s try a vignette effect. Subtle, right?
NO. If you can see it, you’re doing it wrong.
Yuk. I feel like a peeping Tom.
2. How about tilt shift? Totally makes sense in this context.
NO. It almost never makes sense, actually.
Tilt shift is an effect that exaggerates depth of field to make a scene look miniaturized. It’s done with special lenses that actually…tilt. It is not for highlighting your front door.
3. Can we add some bokeh? That always classes a picture up, right?
NO. Never ever ever fake depth of field.
It never looks right, no matter what the fancy software tells you. This is an extreme example, but my phone actually has a setting that will do this.
4. I know. Let’s do a vintage effect. With no forethought.
NO. How’s the weather down there in the pit of hell, Chris?
Canned vintage effects (artificial cross processing) are overused and often poorly executed. If you want to be unique, your best bet right now is to actually go for accurate colors. Also, FYI, taking a vintage pic of your laptop is like looking for a wifi signal in Amish country.
5. Ugh, ok forget it. Let me just upload it to Facebook and Twitter and call it a day.
NO. Be aware of your device’s upload settings. Otherwise, you might compress Chris into stained glass.
Also note that a lot of uploading services do a number on your pictures if the original resolution is to high. Try to upload pictures that are pre-sized, so the upload service (or Facebook) doesnt have to resize for you. If you know you’re only going to post your phone pics online, lower the camera resolution.
So, I hope this has been instructuful. Instructing. Instructional. Whatever. My one wish is that people would stop trying to make their pictures awesome with canned effects. Let them be awesome on their own, and just see what happens. Embrace real life. That’s how you learn and get better. Yeah? Yeah.
Ok, share your ugly-effects horror stories below. And thanks Chris, for being my unwilling volunteer.