All aboard the edit train…

My ability to be on time to homeroom (waayyyyy back in high school days) revolved around one thing: the freight train. Leaving the house a few minutes earlier or later didn’t seem to do me any good, the schedule of the train was impossible to nail down; every day was left to fate. Most days I breezed right over the tracks, giving a little kiss to the sky in thanks. But then there were the days the gates came down, in all their flashy, noisy glory. Most of the time it was when I had a test first period and needed to cram, or possibly finish the chapter in the English assignment…because, yes, I was a dork who actually read the books and then regularly filled in Mr. Buckley who sat in front of me for four years! I digress. I’d watch the seemingly never-ending line of train cars whiz by, each one ticking away another moment I’d be late to class. And then finally I’d be on my way again…

After a very busy August, with multiple styled shoots, a couple of studio shoots and then a trip to Grand Rapids, MI thrown in, I’ve been sitting behind my computer into the wee hours on what I have dubbed the Edit Train. Because like the freight train in high school, it’s a seemingly never-ending line of photos whizzing by. Thank god for Lightroom. The ability to compare photos so that I can choose the one with the bride’s best smile, easily touch up blemishes, and naturally enhance the colors and contrast has made editing an actual joy to do. After all, I’m still the dork from high school who likes to do the work :)

Here’s a glimpse into my process…


I like to “develop” my images side by side so that I can see the before and after. On the left is straight-out-of-camera (SOOC). Fundamentally the image is there, composition is good, etc. but it needs some tweaks. I tend to give my images a “warm” tone, I think it helps enhance skin tone and the overall feel-good quality of the image. To do this, I adjust the temperature towards a higher kelvin number (or towards yellow on the color scale slider). I may or may not adjust the “tint” towards the pink end of the scale, it usually depends on how much I have adjusted the color temp. I want to make sure the skin tones are warm, but not overly yellow or pink. In the image above, I also slightly darkened the highlights, in order to bring back some detail in the dress, and lightened the shadows for her face.


When I was initially taking the image above, I had to be careful with my metering (I use the in-camera meter, mainly for speed) because of the contrast in light and dark tones. I didn’t want to lose detail in the stationery, however I couldn’t have his suit completely lost in shadow. I slightly under-exposed the stationery (which is why it looks gray in the before) to keep as much shadow detail as possible. In Lightroom, I adjusted the exposure slightly (I under-exposed a little too much!) and then lightened just the shadows a tiny bit more. To bring the invite back to white, I simply slid the “white” slider closer the light end of the scale until I got a color I was happy with. Once the overall exposure was to my liking, I tweaked the color temp to the warm side to keep consistency throughout each image.


Honestly, the difference in the before and after above it very very slight. My only changes were to lighten the shadows to bring some detail back into the burgundy petals and to give it my overall warm tone. In this case, I thinking warming the photo up just lends a richness to the photo that is missing SOOC.

While each photo takes only a few minutes, when you are staring at a string of over 1000 images from a wedding, the task can seem a little daunting. But just like the freight train in high school, the end is always near. At least now, I have the ability to control the schedule so I am never late again!

Special thanks to the crew who helped put this styled shoot together! Couldn’t have gotten such amazing images without Dulce Dreams Events, The WIld Ivy, Yuling Designs, Top of the Garden and our models Peony and Tradell!!! 


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