Starting Photo Editing

Playing with reflections and learning photo editing.

Once I decided to start editing my photos, I downloaded Gimp right away. I had heard it was a good, free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, which was what I was looking for. I watched some videos about how to use Gimp, and it seemed very complicated. There are so many tools that you can use on Gimp, many of which I’m sure I’ll never use, but many are very useful for photo editing, especially to add effects and touch up portraits. I could see how great it could be, but the process of editing the first few photos was quite frustrating. I kept hearing about Adobe Lightroom from photographers I was watching videos of, and it made me want to just get a subscription to that, but I am pretty set on using a free program. I kept watching videos and trying to figure out Gimp, with minimal success, but I kept trying! I attempted to load a RAW file onto the program and learned that I need to download a program called Darktable to download the RAW files, then I can get them to Gimp from there. Once I downloaded Darktable, I could see that it was a photo editing program as well, and much more simple than Gimp, in my opinion. I looked it up and apparently Gimp is similar to Photoshop, while Darktable is similar to Lightroom. This was just what I was looking for! I don’t have anything against Gimp, and I think I will go back to it someday once I get the hang of simple editing, but for now I am very happy using Darktable for my photos.

Within Darktable, I am still sticking with the basics for now. I haven’t used any layers or anything, and am mostly focusing on enhancing the photos with brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure, and other simple tools. Perhaps when I am more confident using these basic tools, I will get into more complex techniques. I am happy with the results of most edits so far. One thing I have to focus on is not over-editing my photos, because I have heard that is a common mistake, and it is quite easy to do. I have a few edited photos that I may have edited just slightly too much, but I think I will get a better eye for it the more I practice. The photo at the top of this post is one I edited and am quite happy with! I was content with the photo before bringing it into Darktable, but I enjoyed bringing out the colours of the paint a bit more and making it pop. Below is two versions of the same wave photo, once before editing and the other after editing with Darktable. I was happy with this original as well, but I felt that I made it more eye-catching with a bit of editing.

I have a feeling that I will look back at these first photos I edited and see so many things to improve once I have become more comfortable with the process. For this reason, it feels a bit uncomfortable posting all of these on a blog when I am such a beginner with this skill, but that’s the point of documenting the learning journey, I suppose! For now, I am happy with these photos, and I am looking forward to seeing how I can improve throughout this project.

So far, I have mostly been photographing nature and landscapes, but the forecast in Victoria for the foreseeable future is very cold (we are even supposed to get snow, which is a pretty big deal here on Vancouver Island) so it may be nice to try taking some indoor photos. I also have been having troubles with the auto-focus on my camera, and when I took it into a shop, I was told that unfortunately, there is some kind of problem with my lens. The camera and lens both still work, but I am finding that large-scale photos of landscapes and scenes aren’t turning out like I had hoped, and are often blurry in many areas of the photo. It will focus on things more close-up, and I am more successful at using manual focus when it is not something too far away, so I will have to keep these things in mind as I move forward with this project.

Last weekend I visited the Sooke Potholes, which was a lovely walk with many photo opportunities. I will leave off this post with a photo of some mossy steps that I took while I was there, just slightly edited. I wonder what this week will bring for my photography!

Mossy steps at the Sooke Potholes

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