Eye on Business | Edit Less, Love Life More

Want to know the secret to spending less time at the computer and more time shooting, spending time with family or whatever else you love doing? I, for one, have suffered from flat-booty syndrome due to the countless hours I’ve spent in my office chair these past few years editing, editing, editing. Or rather fixing, fixing, fixing. Eventually, I set out on a mission to edit less and love life more.

I’m Jodee Ball, chief editor/queen bee, coming to you from JP Ball Photography.

I pulled you in with my opening question. But, really, there is no secret. Sorry, folks! No magic formula, but there is a very practical one. And one that has taken me a long time to master (and I use that term very, very loosely knowing I’ve yet to master anything). I’m a slow learner. A really slow learner.

Without further ado, the answer is simply to shoot your images correctly SOOC (straight out of camera). Gasp. I know. What a revelation (insert sarcasm). But, if it was easy to do, then every photographer would pull their camera out of the box and immediately master photography.

Here are some key components to successfully shooting an image correctly SOOC and thus, eliminating hours you spend editing a session at your computer. Goodbye flat booty! 😉

White balance – It’s number one for a reason! This has to have been the most frustrating element I’ve contended with as a photographer and I still get myself into sticky lighting situations, desperate to accurately measure my white balance. If you struggle with correct WB, here are two methods to try.

A) Kelvin – This method is close to, but not a custom white balance. It’s easy to use, though. Simply adjust your Kelvin setting to 5600 for indoor/strobe lighting or 6000 for a bright outdoor image. Because these settings are relative to the color temperature of your surroundings you will still need to adjust  the white balance slider slightly during processing.

B) Custom White Balance – I have used grey cards before and never achieved correct white balance. If you have had better luck, please, by all means, share your tips! Recently, I purchased an ExpoDisc and I love it! The key is to place yourself where the subject will be, set your lens to manual focus and fire a shot. Then, use your custom white balance selection and set the camera according to your image. This has worked like a charm!

Exposure – When you are faced with a tricky lighting situation or a heavily dark/light wardrobe contrast, meter and expose to the lightest part of the image. Knowing which meter mode to use is a key element to proper exposure. Personally, I’ve found evaluative mode to be the most accurate is MOST situations. It takes the entire frame into account when adjusting for exposure. Watch for overexposure in your histogram. When in doubt err on underexposure vs. overexposure. You can increase the center light but if you overexpose, you will lose detail in your image.

Focus – Get to know the sweet apertures of your lenses. Typically it’s 2-3 stops away from the widest setting. So, for a 1.2 lens, a 1.8 or 2.0 is usually the widest you can shoot with a crisp image. If you are shooting an individual, then you are safe to shoot wide. Of course, this depends on your personal preference of how much bokeh you wish to achieve. If you are shooting more than one person, err on the safe side and shoot with an aperture of at least 4.0.

Shutter speed also plays an important role in focus. A good rule of thumb, assuming your subject is still, is to double the shutter speed value based on double your focal length. So, if I am using the 70-200mm lens at 160mm then I would want my shutter speed to be at least 320. This is just a guide, though. Of course, ISO and aperture also play into the speed of your shutter. Once you know your camera well, you may be a champ at sharp focus and slow shutter speeds.

Crop – Allow for various crop ratios when shooting so that you don’t have to spend precious time extending backgrounds. Worst editing task ever!

Background – If you have something obstructive in your image that cannot be zapped with a simple 2 second clone step, move on! It’s just not worth your time in editing! You could also simply change your position or your subject’s position relative to background. Typically, if the obstruction isn’t touching your subject in the image, then it’s a quick fix.

So, there you have it! 5 easy tips for shooting an image correctly SOOC and thus decreasing the time you spend editing.

Time IS money!


Editing is NOT fixing; rather, it’s enhancing an already properly shot image!

Here are a SOOC image (no adjustment except for a resize for web) and the edited/enhanced version.