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I will usually spend 20 seconds to 3 minutes on a pictrure. Either it works, or it doesn't. I don't "fix" pictures. © 2018 Thorsten von Overgaard.


The Story Behind That Picture:
"The Philosophy of Editing"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. July 28, 2018.


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Editing is to select and prepare for use. I try to go through all the pictures I took, the same day, to see what worked and what didn’t work. I make final pictures, ready for immediate or later use, of the good ones.

I learn from the bad ones. But also, I get to finish work, and that – together with the few successes of the day that I now have proof of, ready for use and sharing – is what gives me the enthusiasm and self-confidence to go out and take photos tomorrow.

I never really look at my “hit rate”, how big a percentage of the photos makes it to final ones. I concentrate on what is good, and I finalize those and admire the result. The bad ones are just there, and I skip over them to look for the good ones.

So no, I never delete bad pictures. A bad photo is simply one that isn’t a photo. Sometimes what I thought would be a great photo isn’t, and then I may look at it to see what I did wrong. What can I learn from this? It can be it just wasn’t great to begin with, and either I knew or I didn’t when I took it. Or it can be that I missed the moment (wrong timing), or technical things like focus or exposure. I make a mental note to do things different, but that’s all and then I move on to look for what works.

When enough works, you don’t have to worry about what didn’t. You look for the files that can easily be made into good pictures. If you look solely for your errors, you see just errors. So I look for good ones.

It’s a small thing, but it has a big effect on your enthusiasm for your photography: If you measure what is wrong by counting and deleting the bad photos, you feel like a failed photographer. If you look for what works and make that final pictures for using and sharing, you feel enthusiastic about your photography and want to do more.

The bad ones are learning experiences. Look and decide what to do when in a similar situation. If you can’t figure out what to do to make them better next time, ask somebody who could point you to an answer. In short, if you have to few good ones, take more photos.


What do I edit?

I’m for “global adjustments”, which means that I edit a photograph in general. I seldom edit a photo, and then start working on a corner of it, a face, a single color and so on (See examples in my article, "Editing Pictures: Before and After Examples").

The opportunities to do local adjustments are plenty in Capture One, Lightroom and Photoshop. I just generally don’t spend more than 20 seconds – 180 seconds on an image.

Either it works, or it doesn’t. I didn’t take a photo to remove things in the background, change exposure in individual elements, add clouds to the sky… and all that. I took the photo because I thought it was pretty obvious it would work as it was.

I edit those types of photos towards the look I want. I don’t try to edit and save the hopeless captures. I simply skip those. I concentrate only on what works, and that is all I am looking for when I go through the folder of pictures: “Mm, this one is a photo!” and then I already know that “I’m just going to take the exposure down a bit, warm up the colors and crop away that hand sticking into the frame to the right”.

I see the photo with the changes I want to make. Then I do the changes.

(This is much similar to working with a camera, if you notice: You walk down the street, and you notice something that could be a photo. No matter how clearly you “saw the photo”, you did actually prevision and see the photo before it was taken (why else would you do it?). It is because you “saw the photo” that you then took the camera and recorded it).

I think it is important to notice what we’re doing by observing: making decisions about what could be done or what should be done, and then doing it. In working with computers (and cameras), the observing and decision making part is often forgotten, we easily get thrown into the habit of doing without a final goal in mind).

I will usually do the edits in 20 seconds to 3 minutes. I edit until I feel it works and was what I envisioned.

Sometimes I work on something and realize it is somewhat satisfying, but not great. Then I realize it won’t get better than that, and so I leave it as is. This will result in a picture that is ready for use, and I’ll leave it up to a better me, or somebody else, in the future to decide if it will ever get used. Notice that I didn’t delete it, nor did I throw in three hours of work in order to save it. I leave it at that “somewhat ok result”, and we’ll see. I’ll spend my time on better pictures, and on taking new ones.

There was something there, but it's not an essential or great photo. So I edit it to look all right for the archive, then move on. Maybe it will be off use one day, maybe not. Sex Pistols cover in the Amoeba record store, Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles.
There was something there, but it's not an essential or great photo. So I edit it to look all right for the archive, then move on. Maybe it will be of use one day, maybe not. Sex Pistols cover in the Amoeba record store on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles.


I see editing tools such as Capture One (and Lightroom) as a way to add 5% - 15% more sparkle and life to the photograph. I don’t use editing tools to “fix it in the computer”.

The photograph should be fairly well finished in the camera, and then in Capture One I will add that extra sparkle. I will also crop the image in Capture One, to any format (square, panorama, 2:3 format or whatever I see fit) so as to strengthen the story and to exclude disturbing lines and elements that don’t contribute to the story. I will correct the White Balance as needed, to get natural and nice colors.

Usually I will make the color version into its final edit; then make a copy of that version and make a black and white version.

As I move through the pictures, I mark the ones I’ve selected to edit with three stars. The three stars simply means “this is a picture”, and then I’ll edit it so it is ready for use.

Once I have gone through all the photos of the day (or the photos in the folder that I am working with), I take all the ones I had marked three stars and add keywords to them.

I add keywords for what I would look for, which is very simply 1) car, vintage, Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA, April, 2018, De Ville, model 1959, sunset, blue, classic, Cadillac, DADS KAD, and any other word I presume I would search for when I want to find the picture in the future).

I will also add factual information to the keywords, which is 2) Which camera and lens I used: Leica M10, Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25. And 3) Any information on names, streets, model numbers, in this case Canyon Drive, model year 1959, model name De Ville.



Adding keywords only to the files that matter (the three star ones that I edited so as to be ready for use) is important, and so is it that I add them to the files before I start exporting. The keywords become extremely important for future use of the archive.

Imagine that your archive is one big hard drive with many thousands of photos. Imagine they are just floating there all 40,000, 60,000 or 250,000 of them, because either there are no folders in the future to organize things into, or even if you made a neat structure of folders, the number of folders alone would take your breath away. That’s why keywords added now is important for future use:

You search for “Cadillac”, and there you go. The search comes up with 31 pictures in the whole archive with the word Cadillac. It’ll be rather easy to find which of the 31 pictures is the one you were looking for.

The image also contains information about where it was taken, with what, and when. So, I can write a caption that is correct too, without having to research or spend time looking elsewhere:


This elegant Cadillac de Ville model 1959 which you can often find parked in the Hollywood Hills, has been in the same ownership for 59 years and is still going strong. Leica M10 with Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25. © 2018 Thorsten von Overgaard.
This elegant Cadillac de Ville model 1959 which you can often find parked in the Hollywood Hills, has been in the same ownership for 59 years and is still going strong. Leica M10 with Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25. © 2018 Thorsten von Overgaard.


I will often crop different versions if I see different possible uses. Instagram crop would be a square one, but also panorama or any other crop that makes sense to have in the archive.


I will do differnt crops for the archive.


Once I am done with the folder I am working on, or the photos from this event, I will archive it all on an external drive – the actual photo archive – and clean out the computer.

When I am done, I have “harvested” all the photos worth using from the set, prepared them for use with keywords, and I have cleaned out the computer again, as well as the memory card. My computer and camera are ready for new work, and the photos are in the archive for anyone to look through and easily see what might be useful for the article, exhibition or whatever else they are doing.

Editing is to select and prepare for use. It’s not doodling around with images on the screen, playing with effects and then getting tired of it and beginning something else. You start editing, go through it all, do it properly and then archive it all. In other words, it’s work, even when it’s fun. It has the common characteristic of all other types of work, which is that if you don’t do it, it stacks up and comes back to haunt you.

“Anything that is work is a shirk”.


I hope you enjoyed this talk about editing. As always, feel free to e-mail me for ideas, suggestions, questions and more.

Also read:

"Editing Pictures: Before and After Examples"
"My Precious Workflow"

"Which Computer to Get for Photo Editing"



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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Leica S:
Leica M10   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica S digital medium format
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder    
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Cine Lenses:
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder    
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 180mm R lenses
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
    Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
History and overview:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica History   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica Definitions   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica Digilux 1
Leica Camera Compendium   Leica X
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   Leica Sofort instant camera
    Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
    Leica CM 35mm film camera
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Quality of Light   Overgaard Lightroom Survival Kit for Lightroom CC/6
Lightmeters   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
White Balance & WhiBal   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
All You Need is Love    
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
X-Rite   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
The Origin of Photography   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
Case in Point    
The Good Stuff  
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
Leica OSX folder icons   Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
Leica Photographers:  
Jan Grarup   Riccis Valladares
Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
Douglas Herr    
Vivian Maier  
Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston    
The Story Behind That Picture:   Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram
More than 100 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule   Thorsten Overgaard on Twitter
    Thorsten Overgaard on Facebook
Leica Forums and Blogs:    
Leica M10 / M240 / M246 User Forum on Facebook   Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog
The Leica User Forum   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   Leica Fotopark
Erwin Puts (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Adam Marelli (blog)
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   Jono Slack
Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   Ming Thein (blog)
  I-Shot-It photo competition
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:    
Hardware for Photography   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for older Leica 35mm/1.4 lenses
Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
Mega Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
Medium Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Small Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for 50mm Summicron lenses
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Vintage Prints   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Home School Photography Extension Courses   Ventilated Shade for 75mm Summicron (coming)
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
    Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated ShadeE60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4



Above: I will usually spend 20 seconds to 3 minutes on a pictrure. Either it works, or it doesn't. I don't "fix" pictures. © 2018 Thorsten von Overgaard.










Also visit:

Overgaard Photography Workshops
Von Overgaard Gallery Store
Ventilated Shades by Overgaaard
Leather Camera Straps
Camea Bags
Calfskin Camera Pouches
iPad and Computer Clutches
Leather Writing Pads
Books by Thorsten Overgaard
Leica Definitions
Leica History
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon f/3.4
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz Cine lenses
7artisans 50mm f/1.1
Leica Digilux 2

Leica M10
Leica M10-P
Leica M10-D
Leica M9, M9-P and Leica ME
Leica M 240
Leica M 240 for video
Leica M 262
Leica M-D 262
Leica M Monochrom
Leica M 246 Monochrom

Leica SL
Leica SL2
Panasonic Lumix S1R
Leica R9 dSLR
Leica Q
Leica Q2
Leica CL
Leica TL2
Leica Sofort
Leica S digital medium format
Leica X
Light metering
White Balance for More Beauty
Color Meters

Screen Calibration
Which computer to get
Sync'ing photo archive to iPhone
Lightroom Survival Kit
Lightroom Presets by Overgaard
Capture One Survival Kit

Capture One Styles by Overgaard
Signed Original Prints by von Overgaard
The Story Behind That Picture
"On The Road With von Overgaard"

Von Overgaard Masterclasses:
M10 / M9 / M240 / Q / TL2 / S1R /



Overgaard Photo Workshops




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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to for
advice, ideas or improvements.


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