The Power Of Editing

Yesterday, one of my photos of a wild horse on Assateague Island was featured on Canon USA’s Instagram account.

**Internal happy dancer goes crazy!!** #honored



It’s a photo I originally posted on my new IG account @annasmolens which focuses on light, bright, and pretty things.

My main IG account, @purplehorsedesigns is of course full of horse pictures. Many of them are dark from doing studio work, vibrant from being taken in beautiful golden light, or just colorful because that’s a large part of my style as a photographer.

However, I am a huge fan of the light, airy look, and do edit in that style on occasion.

I had initially started the new account with the intention of simply posting non-equine images there, but recently started it over to feature this specific color palette, regardless of subject. It just makes me happy when I look at it. 🙂

Of course, I needed photos. I did this in the middle of winter when it was cold, miserable, and colorless out, so I decided to go back through my folders and pull out some images that were edited in this way, or could be.

This is a photo taken literally 15 seconds after the one above, with the edit I did originally. Vibrant and colorful.

Purple Horse Designs Equine Portrait Anna Smolens-


This is the original RAW image exactly how it came out of the camera. Shot with a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L @ 16mm. F/3.5, 1/500, ISO 800.

Purple Horse Designs Equine Portrait Anna Smolens-9217


There was a storm approaching, and I wanted to play up the intensity of the clouds. RAW images, by nature, are very flat. So editing is a given when shooting RAW, and with all the information packed into a RAW file, there are always tons of options.

For the original edit, I focused on adding contrast, bringing out the texture and color of the clouds, and of course, cleaning up the beach!

However, when going back through my pictures, I knew from the base image that it had lots of potential to create a lighter, brighter version:

Purple Horse Designs Equine Portrait Anna Smolens-9202


And here is the original RAW file – pretty much the same as the other one, only vertical. Shot with a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L @ 16mm. F/4.5, 1/350, ISO 1250.

Purple Horse Designs Equine Portrait Anna Smolens-9202-3


(If you’ll notice, I changed settings between photos. I shoot in Manual mode, so I can try to tell you why I changed what I did: I would have upped the aperture simply to get better sharpness. Most lenses have a sharpness ‘sweet spot’ anywhere between f/4 and f/8. Normally I shoot for bokeh, but in a shot like this it’s pretty irrelevant. It was also getting darker and darker, so the first thing I do when that happens is usually bring my shutter speed down if I can, and bump up my ISO, which I did.)

In the second version, I pretty much did everything the opposite when it came to editing. I brightened it as much as I could without losing detail, pulled up the shadows and again, cleaned up the beach!

Two different edits from nearly identical original images.



There will be some people who are drawn to one or the other – and that’s awesome! I of course, happen to like both. 🙂