XDrive Photography Learning – 14 – Post Processing.

Welcome back guys to the XDrive photography learning sessions once again. So far we have mainly focused on the photo shooting in different situations and the camera functions. We also touched upon raw image shooting and advantages against the jpg format. Whatever is your preferred format, there is one thing you must do, that is editing your pictures before it gets published. But then the question is what all one needs to edit? Isn’t it time-consuming?

Well, there is no limit on kind of edits one can do. I am not talking about those advanced edits professionals do. I am talking about simple edits which every photographer should know about. I have listed out 10 such edits one has to know about and do in the sequence mentioned below. If you are a beginner try to follow the same sequence and once you understand them you may have your own workflow. So let’s jump in and explore.

1) Horizon/Level adjustment:

Do not adjust the level referring to the road, but refer to the sea level here.

This step should be the first one you check before you do any edits. Because when you do horizon adjustment, your image might get cropped or you may force you to crop the image further. When you do it your story of the image may change. If the story changed you have may have to do a different kind of edit for that picture. Generally, you should avoid shooting tilted images unless you want to shoot it that way purposefully. But, however good you are at photography, handheld shooting always needs some kind of minor level adjustment.

2) Cropping:


c1This is should be your number two edit. The main objective here is to correct any composition errors. Generally, I check for the rule of thirds or breathing space etc before I crop. This is the opportunity for you to eliminate an unwanted background or a distraction. But remember as you crop more you are going to lose the image data and hence the drop in quality. So crop very little as possible. But remember the crop might changes the whole story.

White Balance:

e4The White balance of a camera is a setting where you tell the camera what actually white colour is. Yes, it looks funny but camera under different lighting conditions gets confused to define a white colour. Generally, auto white balance setting in camera does a good job, but I still do some minor change post-processing. This is very crucial in scenes where artificial lights are involved. In the above example, check the chair covers, they should be pure white. When I did the manual correction, it changed all other colours too including the skin tones of my daughter. If you shoot raw, then you will be able to recover almost any kind of missed white balance by the camera.

4) Brightness:

Basic brightness adjustment is performed. Even though the background is overexposed now, the subject illumination is very important for us.
Here I have done a bit of advanced edit. I have increased the brightness of my subject but made sure the background did not overexpose. I have done selective brightness control here.

Brightness adjustment comes in whenever your image is under or overexposed. Pay attention to the light on the subject. Make sure your subject is lit adequately. Sometimes we worry about background or a sky getting blown and keep the subject underexposed. This is not the correct treatment. Your subject is the main object of the photograph so you must make sure its illuminated properly.


5) Contrast:


c1Contrast is the setting where you make the bright area still brighter and dark areas more darker, this makes the image to pop up. It also gives a 3D appearance to your pictures.This adjustment you do immediately after the brightness adjustment. Once you set the contrast, you might have to go back to brightness and tweak it again.

6) Highlights:

h1Highlights are the brightest areas of the picture. Adjusting the highlights allows you to show or hide the details in the brighter area. In the above image, I am able to show more sky details by bringing down the highlights.

7) Shadows:


b2By adjusting the shadows your are going to show or hide the details in the darker areas of your image. But pay attention to the noise as you bring up the shadows. Raw images allow better shadow recovery in comparison to jpg. But remember shadows adjustment is not a brightness adjustment. In the example of brightness above when I increased the brightness of the same image, the highlights were blown there. Here I am able to keep the highlights in control while bringing out the details in the shadows. This is the better edit.

8) Saturation:

sa1This is the setting where you will make the things more colourful. Every colour in the image gets enhanced. This setting is very important when you are treating colourful scenes. But make sure you are not overdoing them as things will look artificial beyond some threshold.

DSC02238If you reduce the saturation to lowest, your image becomes black & white.

9) Sharpness:

sWe all like sharp pictures. Sharpness is something your eyes automatically search when we see anything. So add sharpness as required by the image. Again avoid oversharpening. But note if you are shooting raw, it’s crucial that you sharpen your image. Some software applies the sharpness automatically as you import a raw image. For jpg, you have to do it manually if needed. Sometimes you purposefully make the image unsharp to create a dreamy look.

10) Noise Reduction:

n1Noise and sharpness work opposite to each other. If you add too much sharpness you will see more noise in your image. Generally, you will see noise in the underexposed area. Any shadow recovery also brings in the noise. So one has to do many tries when it comes to adjusting the noise. But if you adjust the noise correction to upper limits then you will lose the details of your image and image looks unsharp.

That’s it! Every photo editor software has these adjustment controls. Check them out and get familiarise. The workflow I have given is for guidance only. Sometimes you have to do adjustments in a different sequence. I generally spend about a minute or two on each image for editing. So, ready for your edits now?

Some of the examples of edits I have done. It’s just for guidance only. You should have your own type of editing style, that’s what makes photography a creative art.

Edits include shadow recovery, highlight recovery and increased saturation to the scene.
Similar adjustments as above set.
Cropping is done to remove the distractive top part. But had to cut off a bit of arm because I did not want to lose the breathing space in the front. Adjusted the white balance so that image looks warm. Contrast added to bring out the image. Also added a bit of vignette to give more emphasis to the subject.

That’s it guys for the week. Hope you all liked this post. Now let’s see your edits.

Please make sure to check out my earlier sessions here.


  1. Post at least one or two pictures you have taken with your camera (raw or jpg) and corresponding edits you were able to do. Fresh or existing images are fine. Apply all the things we learnt in the previous sessions.
  2. Let me know type of camera(mobile, DSLR, point and shoot)
  3. Try to put EXIF data (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) so that I can comment better.
  4. Add a tag ‘XDrivePhoto’.
  5. Add a pingback to this post. (Basically, copy the URL of this post, and paste to your post. (Anywhere)
  6. Title the post as “XDrive Photography Learning – 14 – Post Processing”

Your ping-backs may not appear immediately as I have to enable them later. I will check your post, and I will comment on your post itself. I will post selected contribution links to this post later so that others can also see and learn from them. (Please note there is no time limit for your contributions, you can post them anytime, I will respond to them as you contribute. You can also make more than one contribution to the same topic)

Although these lessons are geared towards newbies, expert photographers also welcomed heartily. I need to learn too! There are no teachers here everyone is learning.

Cheers and Happy clicking!




XDrive Photo Lesson 14 – Post processing (NaBloPoMo Day 11)


Some pointers to Amy, based on her post here.



30 Comments Add yours

  1. InspiresN says:

    Wonderful tips on post processing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Nisha for your support and appreciation. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful tips for consideration ! Images are equally beautiful but somehow I loved your cover picture !! Innocent and sweet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Tanvir for your support and appreciation. Cheers to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Raj!! Your photography and tips regarding it are always great 👍

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Raj says:

        Thank you! 🙂 💗

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy says:

    It is very helpful to see the comparisons, Raj! There are many elements to learn, I need to be careful not to overdo it.
    Your daughter is beautiful.


    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Amy for your appreciation. Glad that she is doing modeling work for me for free. 😀
      Yes learning is never ending process. But there should be enjoyment along the process. As long as that happens we don’t mind learning right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. dolcevita35 says:

    Thank you for the tips, I am an amateur and I am in love with photography. I have been writing and posting my owm pics. It feels great to be able to express myself like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thats great! Yes, you need to be open minded and expressive. This way you can learn better at the same time other will get a chance to learn something new. First step is always to love the photography… which you already do.. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen C says:

    Thanks, Raj. A very good workflow. Very helpful.
    Horizon/Level adjustment — is horizon adjustment is more important than vertical? I mean sometime both are off, but you can only adjust one.
    Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Helen, yes its a valid doubt. Sometimes it can be confusing. But you have to make a decision based on the picture in hand. Basically viewer needs to be comfortable watching your image. Tilted images not comfortable. Check what component dominates your scene, if its horizontal or vertical, based on that you have to decide. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks so much for these tips Raj .. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Glad to know that you liked those tips Julie ❤✌

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hassan Zada says:

    very nice Raj 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Hassan for your appreciation! ✌❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hassan Zada says:

        My pleasure Raj 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Yoly says:

    As always beautiful pics 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Yoly for your support as always! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  9. brenda says:

    Good day Raj. Handing in my photo assignment 🙂 I found that this assignment offered clarity in several areas…white balance and contrast. Thank you. Is there a connection between sharpness, clarity, and halos? I am not quite sure if I understood the process regarding ping backs so I pinged back to your web page and listed the link below so as to ease any confusion.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Amy for being so prompt in response. You must be in the first row during your school days! 
      Well first I have to confess here, I did a mistake in my comment on the first set, what I wanted to tell you is to “bring out the shadows” but mistyped it. Really sorry about it. Rest of the adjustments you have done look good.
      Wrt the second set, I would do still more crop. I will do that and post it in my lesson post.
      Yes, do agree with Cindy, basically, you have to like the picture not me. But then one has to improve also right? Improvement happens only when you try different things and take input from others. But then its left to you what you want to adopt or not. You are doing a great job.


  10. Amy says:

    Yees! Much better. I like both. This is my thought that shared with Cindy:
    I like to learn more about the basics (I should have done before I started photography). It can help me to take better photos and develop styles from there. As now and in the past, I’d take a couple of dozens of shots for just one scene, then edit them like crazy. When I finally post it, I have already lost of the original….
    I agree on the golden glory of Aspen. I have love for these trees. Will play with the straightening more.
    What I should have done was to learn all these basics as you are teaching before I got my canon. 🙂

    Thank you for helping me make progress one step at a time (I’m slow). Importantly, it also helps me know the work behind a good photo and it’s not all about camera.
    Thank you for working on weekend.
    BTW, my previous boss made a public statement that Amy doesn’t let green grass grow under her feet. That doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing though. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. brenda says:

    Raj…well I went back and revisited the edit lesson images with your comments in mind. Thank you. I have learned a lot.


    Liked by 1 person

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