Our website will be down for scheduled maintenance on Thursday, September 18, at 11 p.m. Pacific Time and should be back up by Midnight. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Knowing when edits have gone too far

From: Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography

Video: Knowing when edits have gone too far

Photoshop has a lot of useful image editing tools and features, to say the least, and learning how to use the ones that are useful to a landscape photographer is only half the battle; just as difficult, sometimes, is knowing when to stop using them. Photoshop offers so much power and so many options, wrapped up in so many choices, that it's easy to become paralyzed with end decision when editing. Should I do this to an image, should I do that to an image? I know I need more contrast, but how much? While many of these decisions are subjective, there are some objective measures you can use, as well.

Knowing when edits have gone too far

Photoshop has a lot of useful image editing tools and features, to say the least, and learning how to use the ones that are useful to a landscape photographer is only half the battle; just as difficult, sometimes, is knowing when to stop using them. Photoshop offers so much power and so many options, wrapped up in so many choices, that it's easy to become paralyzed with end decision when editing. Should I do this to an image, should I do that to an image? I know I need more contrast, but how much? While many of these decisions are subjective, there are some objective measures you can use, as well.

So there is a finite amount of editing that you can do to an image before you start seeing deleterious artifacts in your scene and other problems. Let's return to this approaching storm image and look at an example. I am going to zoom in here. This part of the cloud that I was increasing the contrast on earlier, as you'll recall, with this adjustment layer right here, I am going to turn it off, I have gone from there to there by way of making the cloud a little more dramatic. But I can go a lot more dramatic than that. If I continue to push the black point, the cloud gets more and more contrast-y.

So where's the point that's too far? If you watch the shadow area here, you can see it go from this, which is very finely defined gradient of ever so subtly darkening tones going from here to here, I can go from there to this, which is a great reduction in tones. Now, I've got mostly just three or four intermediate tones. That nice smooth gradient that's been in there has dropped out into almost bands of color, and a whole bunch of intermediate tones have fallen out to a complete black.

From a purely subjective standpoint, that just looks too dark. It doesn't look realistic. But setting that aside for the moment, we can also look at a more objective benchmark, which is the reality of this situation was a fairly fine, soft gradient. I don't want to get too far from that. I don't want to lose too many tones in there. Tone breaks and posterization, the process of a fine gradient being reduced down to just a few simple number of tones, that's a sign that an edit has gone too far.

I don't want to go much farther than here, even though I've got all of this range over here that I can drag through, but I am bumping into the limits of what's going to preserve a decent gradient. This is going to be true on clouds, on pieces of chrome and flesh tones. For a landscape shooter, particularly dealing with skies, particularly dealing with the very subtle gradients that can appear in a sky, it's very, very important to keep an eye on when those gradients are breaking down into a far simpler set of tones.

If you hit that point, then you've pushed your edits too far, and you need to back off of them. If you have reduced the glow of the sunset on a horizon down to a single shade of orange, you have created an entirely unrealistic image, and created edits that defy what the viewer is expecting to see. You need to back off from those. When you're using that as a benchmark, you suddenly find yourself in a much more limited editing environment which is good in some ways because it means you're not overwhelmed by all the possibilities that could arise from all of these different tonal adjustments.

I've got the realm of possibility narrowed down to these fairly slim latitudes of what makes up a good gradient and good tonal content. So that's an excellent way of knowing when your edits have gone too far, when it's time to back off a little bit, and knowing when to back off will perhaps get you out of that paralysis of too much choice, and decisions that are too difficult.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography
Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography

59 video lessons · 22383 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 44s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
  2. 46m 35s
    1. Defining landscape photography
      2m 23s
    2. Considering cameras and gear
      10m 41s
    3. Shooting and composition tips
      6m 39s
    4. Why you should shoot raw instead of JPEG
      4m 25s
    5. Making selects
      10m 42s
    6. Understanding the histogram
      6m 53s
    7. A little color theory
      4m 52s
  3. 1h 14m
    1. Opening an image
      4m 42s
    2. Cropping and straightening
      9m 56s
    3. Nondestructive editing
      6m 23s
    4. Spotting and cleanup
      3m 53s
    5. Cleaning the camera sensor
      11m 17s
    6. Lens correction
      6m 26s
    7. Correcting overexposed highlights
      7m 29s
    8. Basic tonal correction
      5m 45s
    9. Correcting blacks
      11m 54s
    10. Correcting white balance
      6m 35s
  4. 21m 34s
    1. Performing localized edits with the Gradient Filter tool
      7m 24s
    2. Performing localized edits with the Adjustment brush
      7m 54s
    3. Controlling brush and gradient edits
      6m 16s
  5. 16m 34s
    1. Working with noise reduction
      5m 33s
    2. Clarity and sharpening
      5m 23s
    3. Exiting Camera Raw
      5m 38s
  6. 58m 5s
    1. Retouching
      8m 23s
    2. Using Levels adjustment layers
      10m 59s
    3. Saving images with adjustment layers
      4m 18s
    4. Advanced Levels adjustment layers
      9m 36s
    5. Guiding the viewer's eye with Levels
      8m 48s
    6. Using gradient masks for multiple adjustments
      5m 32s
    7. Correcting color in JPEG images
      3m 15s
    8. Adding a vignette
      3m 25s
    9. Knowing when edits have gone too far
      3m 49s
  7. 33m 24s
    1. Preparing to stitch
      5m 59s
    2. Stitching
      7m 39s
    3. Panoramic touchup
      7m 17s
    4. Shooting a panorama
      4m 58s
    5. Stitching a panorama
      7m 31s
  8. 27m 18s
    1. Shooting an HDR Image
      7m 53s
    2. Merging with HDR Pro
      11m 52s
    3. Adjusting and retouching
      7m 33s
  9. 24m 4s
    1. Why use black and white for images?
      2m 26s
    2. Black-and-white conversion
      7m 13s
    3. Correcting tone in black-and-white images
      7m 38s
    4. Adding highlights to black-and-white images
      6m 47s
  10. 49m 32s
    1. Painting light and shadow pt. 1
      11m 22s
    2. Painting light and shadow pt. 2
      12m 42s
    3. Painting light and shadow pt. 3
      9m 19s
    4. HDR + LDR
      5m 7s
    5. Reviewing sample images for inspiration
      11m 2s
  11. 48m 2s
    1. Sizing
      9m 8s
    2. Enlarging and reducing
      5m 3s
    3. Saving
      1m 24s
    4. Sharpening
      8m 23s
    5. Outputting an electronic file
      9m 4s
    6. Making a web gallery
      4m 17s
    7. Printing
      10m 43s
  12. 20s
    1. Goodbye
      20s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.