Friday, October 07, 2016

Auto-Editing a Photo

I was out photographing the sunset view in the eastern sky. It was lovely, I could look into the hills and see the brilliantly sunlit windows on all the houses facing west. Nothing fancy in the clouds, just a warm pink glow as the sun descended. I zoomed in and clicked the camera a few times and headed back inside. The next day I thought I would play with one of the photos to see if I could get it to look like the sky I actually saw. I used some of the auto features on Photoshop and was so surprised by the wacky response, I thought I should post them here for your amusement and edification.

The original untouched photo

Auto Color

Auto Contrast

Auto Curves

Auto HDR Toning

Auto Shadows and Highlights

Auto Tone
The only one that comes close to looking like what my eyes saw was the auto curves feature. I was surprised by how crazy bizarre some of these colors are and not at all what the sky looked like. I often wonder if I can trust my brain to remember what I think I saw. I will say that these auto features at least confirmed that I know what I absolutely did not see.


  1. "Auto" anything is usually a bad idea. It never seems to work out well. However, I agree that auto curves did a fairly decent job.

  2. LOL! I'm not surprised. Actually, auto adjustments in Photoshop don't mean you can just click them and get what you want. You are actually supposed to do some basic setting adjustments. For instance, if you do a series of sky photos, you would want to make specific adjustments to make the blue more saturated but less luminous and them tweaks to pop the contrast in the clouds. Then you can apply the auto adjustments quickly to the whole series. But if you are photographing birds on water with glare, then you would change to the appropriate auto settings before going through and applying them to the bird-and-water photos.
    If you are going to do any single auto adjustment without actually defining them first, just try auto white balance, which will usually (not always) help with contrast and saturation.

  3. Of course since none of us saw what you saw, it’s hard to say which is the best choice.

    I’ve long been aware of this and have developed a strong distaste for HDR photos that produce what I would call “garrish” colors, but which seem to sell well, at least to some people.

    On the other hand, when the sun is out you get one color and when it’s cloudy you get a totally different color in the same shot. So which color is the “right” one?

    I wear glasses that automatically darken in bright sunlight, and I’m always a little surprised when I take them off and notice how much brighter everthing seems.

    Trying to reproduce the same color on my Mac that I see on my Windows machine is challenging, not to mention trying to reproduce it on my printer.

  4. Got to admit that the dramatic auto color appealed the most to me but then I am not sure what your eyes saw.

  5. Sharon-- I was so surprised by the differences. What a crazy Photoshop feature. Not sure how it does what it does, but strange.

    CCorax-- I have always said I don't know anything about photography, and I know even less about Photoshop. It's fun to tweak a photo to try and make it look like what I saw, but I have no idea how to make one color saturated and not the whole thing. Some rainy afternoon I may remember to play again.

    Loren-- I have found the HDR creates the strangest color scheme in a photo. I tend to play with the Curves feature because my photos always look much lighter than what I remember (and much softer). Interesting that you mention the difference between a Mac and PC, I never noticed it until I checked the blog while on my mom's PC. Yikes. That's not what it looks like on my Mac at all.

    Arkansas Patti-- Yes, auto color is pretty rich and bold. The sky didn't actually look like that!

  6. It was really fun to see all the variations.

  7. Colette-- Really glad you liked them!

  8. Auto curves? Sounds like something Trump would find appealing! (Really, I wonder what that means?) Good series to share with us, Robin Andrea. When I edit my images, I use the non-auto features of my Canon program, but it's possible to "push" the non-auto edits to the extremes that your program did, too.