6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid

We usually give you tips on what you should do when editing your photos. This time we’ll work from the opposite end and show you some edits that are best avoided. We’ll be talking about edits that you often see out there, but it’s best to stay away from them. What are they, and how can you do things better? You’ll learn all this in today’s article.

Few of your photos can get by without edits in Zoner Photo Studio, but too much editing is a problem too. It’s always smart to keep thinking about when your changes are still a net benefit, and when they’ve crossed the line. Take a look at our selection of editing’s biggest missteps.

An Overdone Retro Look

There’s nothing wrong with adding an old-paper texture to a photo, and it often makes that photo look livelier. But the problem comes when you overdo it and the antique-photo effect is the only thing your audience notices. The photo’s actual contents then fade away completely. 

6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid - bad retro style
An antique-photo effect done the way it wasn’t meant to be.

Making Photos “Dreamlike” by Reducing Clarity

The Clarity setting is a great tool, and it can highlight many of a photo’s details. But what usually doesn’t work is to drop Clarity into the negatives to get a “dreamlike” look.   Excessively high values for Clarity can cause trouble as well. As with every edit, the golden rule is: don’t overdo things!

6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid - person in a forest
Dreamy landscapes just aren’t in.

Used right, Clarity is an essential aid to your photography. Learn how to work with it, and you’ll know how to use its potential to the maximum.

Overly Sharp Eyes and Zombie Whites

Taken together, brightening and sharpening of the eyes are a very common edit, and one that usually benefits a portrait. But only as long as it isn’t overdone. If the subject’s eyes shine too brightly, it makes them look sick, or even like a comic-book character. These overdone edits have no place in a traditional portrait. 

6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid - unnatural eyes
Don’t overdo it with your eye edits.

The Best Retouching is the Retouching You Can’t Notice

Excessive retouching and an absolute loss of details—that’s one of the most frequent mistakes in portrait editing. Go too wild, and you’ll often get a picture that looks like you shot it on a smartphone. Phone camera apps are where you’ll find “beautification” effects that iron out everything but the eyes. Whether you add that kind of effect on a phone or do the same on a computer, don’t overdo it. Nobody looks good as a wax figure. 

6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid - photographer retouched
Excessive retouching with a smoothed-out face.

The last two kinds of retouching can be handled in Zoner Photo Studio far better than this. Learn about the right way to retouch a portrait and avoid beginner’s mistakes.

Fake Bokeh Isn’t Bokeh

Artificially blurring a background can sometimes be useful. But if you can tell at first sight that it’s artificial, that it’s not natural from the lens, it will likely hurt rather than help. Mistakes here tend to most often be visible through clumsy blurring of the background right around the subject or their hair. 

6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid - flower field
Unnatural background blurring.

It’s true that blurring a background can sometimes be useful. But you should always think hard about when and how much you should use it. When you overdo it, the results tend to look bad. 

Unnatural Textures Won’t Save a Photo

And last but not least, let’s look at particle effects. Snow, rain, fog, sunshine… all these effects can really give a photo the right touch when used right. But if you take a rain and sun texture and thoughtlessly slap it onto a photo, that will be noticeable, and it will hurt rather than help.

6 Edits You’ll Do Better to Avoid - added rain
A badly added rain-and-sun texture.

When applying textures to your photos, try playing with different blending modes, for example. You’ll see how fast this can give you a better picture.

Every Edit Has a Use, But They All Can Be Taken Too Far

Our list here is not by far complete, and you’ll definitely find a lot of other examples that could have gone into this article. Do you know any edits that you feel would belong here? Let us know in the comments.

And don’t forget to download Zoner Photo Studio X, try it free for 7 days, and use it to create something better than the edits shown here.

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AuthorMatej Liska

I most love taking pictures of people. Weddings, portraits, graduation photos, balls... I am always in search of backlight, but I enjoy various types of lighting and mostly like to use shorter lenses. I love my Nikon, my guitar, and a kebab. You’ll find my photography on my website or on Facebook.

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