It is very common these days to edit and/or enhance photos using post-processing editing software. Is there a difference between editing and enhancing?
I have always felt there was a difference so I went to the dictionary to find out the definitions of both words. This is what I found:
- Edit – To prepare for publication or presentation, by correcting, revising, or adapting. The word is most often used for written material.
- Enhance – The simple definition is to increase or improve something. A more complex definition is to raise to a higher degree. To intensify or magnify something. To increase the value or price of something.
Certainly, you can increase or improve an image with an edit, so there is a fine line of distinction between the two verbs but there is clearly a difference for me.
Edit – When you edit, you correct exposure, white balance, contrast, brightness, and crop. Many of these edits could have been handled properly in the camera and that is how I make the distinction. Perhaps using a custom white balance or a targeted exposure setting in manual mode would result in an image that does not need correcting. The picture style setting in a Canon (picture control in a Nikon) allows you to make your own presets for sharpness and contrast. Learning these features can definitely assist you in creating a cleaner image that does not require much editing. Using Live View will enable you to view the histogram while you are shooting and get more precise exposure. Shooting in RAW format does require more editing than shooting in jpeg and this is the choice you have to make as a photographer. If you shoot in RAW you will spend more time behind the computer editing the photos. Certainly, there are pros and cons to RAW vs. JPEG. I prefer to shoot in JPEG so I do not have to spend a lot of time editing. An image can also be cropped in the camera, by filling the frame, and enabling the grids (not all cameras have this feature) so that the Rule of Thirds can be applied.
Enhance – An enhancement is generally done after the image is edited. This is the time that I take advantage of the many Photoshop plug-ins and actions that I have installed on my computer.
My definition of enhancing is “creating a unique image that further improves it beyond the editing stage – manipulating the image to intensify the story behind the subject.”
This can be accomplished through color manipulation, pixel painting, vignetting, retouching imperfections, and much, much more. I am a big fan of Topaz filters. If you haven’t heard the term “I Topazed it” then you haven’t been around this software yet. It is simply amazing (no I am not a seller of Topaz). Thousands of plug-ins exist for Photoshop, just for the purpose of enhancing images. There are no right and wrong answers to how much you should enhance as beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. Enhancing an image is really the icing on the cake.
My advice (and how I teach my class on Take Creative Control of Your SLR Camera) is to get it right in the camera to avoid a lot of editing and post-process to your heart’s content. Enhancing a photo is way more fun than editing one. Below are some photos I enhanced using Topaz Impression and Topaz Detail.
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