Learn To Get It Right In Camera Before Learning To Edit

Many photographers these days use Post Editing as a Standby (something they can always use to fix their photos later, no matter how they look), instead of getting the process right in the camera first. Post processing, while useful for the small things that were unavoidable when taking the shot, takes up a lot of time and effort. I know I would rather take the time in the beginning to learn about my camera and lenses, then go out and take as many as possible knowing that all I will need to do is perhaps some cropping. Sitting for hours behind a computer screen trying to get the photos right is wasting my time. 

Scenario: A wedding photographer takes around 350 photos and in post processing spends 30 minutes to an hour on each photo trying to make it right for the customer. The entire wedding shoot cost the customer $500. By the time you add in the travel (time and cost) plus your time fixing photos. To me it doesn't make business sense.

If you are constantly telling yourself, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop later,” you are doing yourself an injustice and leaping over the most essential task of getting it right in camera and your head. 

                                               KNOW YOUR CAMERA 

Ensure you know what the A, AP, P, M and other settings are on your camera. Practice, practice, practice.

Sure, we all have those images that need to be corrected in Photoshop, occasionally. However, do not get complacent and think that no matter how your shots turn out, you can always fix them later. This is not only shows a lack of photography skills but also it will, in the end, be detrimental to your business. 

Photoshop, or any other post processing program, should not be used strictly as a way of fixing your mistakes. 

Photoshop is meant to enhance your “already well-executed” images. The less you HAVE to use it, the more beneficial it is to you.


Before we go too far, let’s start by talking about light. 

Lighting is a key factor in creating a successful image. Therefore it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of colour and luminosity on your subjects 

Everyday in our homes we are playing with light - Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and we don't even know it.

We all have windows of varying sizes in our homes.  Think of the window as the Aperture in your camera. The smaller the window the less light comes through (hits the sensor), the larger the window the more light comes through (hitting the sensor). 

You are increasing or decreasing the exposure of light - Stops. An f-stop is a ratio that relates to the size of that window.

NOTE: The f-stop numbers can be confusing and difficult to get your head around. 

  • The larger the f-stop number the smaller the window. 
  • The smaller the f-stop number the larger the window.

The three things you really need to research, become familiar with, and practice before even considering opening up any editing software. 

  • Exposure Triangle
  •                 Aperture
  •                 Shutter speed
  •                 ISO
  • Composition 
  • Depth of Field 

The Exposure Triangle

Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO make up the three sides of the exposure triangle. They work together to produce a photo that is properly exposed. If one variable changes, at least one of the others must also change to maintain the correct exposure

Shutter Speed

The length of time light is allowed to hit the sensor is Shutter Speed. 

This time we will relate Shutter Speed to the window covering, be it curtains or blinds. 

Shutter speed is measured in seconds and is probably the easiest of the exposure triangle sides to understand. 

You get up in the morning and open the window coverings to expose the day. The coverings will more than likely stay open for hours (Slow Shutter Speed). 

But, if you hear a noise outside and are just peeking through the window coverings for a quick look this is (Fast Shutter Speed). 


If you refer back to Exposure and to the windows in your home you will realise that this is Aperture. 

The size of the circular hole in the lens that lets in light. The bigger the hole, the more light that reaches the sensor. In fact, each time you double the area of that opening, you double the amount of light or increase the exposure by one stop. 

On the other hand, if you halve the area of the opening, you halve the amount of light hitting the sensor, decreasing the exposure by one stop. 

Remember: the values on the f-stop scale are confusing and don’t seem to make any sense. 

  • Small values correspond to larger openings
  • Large values correspond to smaller openings 


The final variable in the exposure triangle is ISO. In simple terms think of ISO as the sensitivity of the digital sensor. 

Higher values of ISO mean that the sensor is more sensitive to light. 

Low ISO values mean that the sensor is less sensitive to light. 

Like shutter speed, this is easy to understand. 

Doubling the ISO equates to a one stop increase in exposure. 

Halving the ISO leads to a reduction of the exposure by one stop.




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