While looking over images from earlier in his career, photographer Mark Denny made note of six flagrant signs that he over-developed his photos and shares them in this 15-minute video.
The very first sign he noted was what he calls “detailed highlights.” It was the second most common sign he found in looking at his older images. He says that this mistake comes from not correctly understanding exposure. Denny says that the mistake comes from believing that as long as the “important” foreground elements are properly exposed, a blown-out sky can be fixed in post.
While this is true, it can lead to other problems. For example, Denny says that bringing down the Highlights slider in Lightroom to compensate will make the sun look extremely unrealistic.
“You can reduce the amount of highlight recovery you are applying to the image,” Denny says, or you can try a different trick which involves using a radial filter. In this way, you can keep the realistic look of the sun without sacrificing the correctly exposed sky.
A second sign Denny points to he calls “dark corners.” This issue is the simple application of too much vignette.
“The trick with a vignette is subtle,” he says. “A vignette should be almost invisible. It shouldn’t jump right out at you.”
Denny says that he actually doesn’t’ use the vignette slider much anymore, instead opting to manually add a vignette of differing strengths to different corners of an image, if he uses one at all.
The third issue Denny discusses he calls “crunchy,” which is his term for an oversharpened image. For example, zoomed out, this photo doesn’t look that bad.
But zoomed in, the issue is very obvious.
A telltale sign that you can see to determine if you’ve applied too much sharpening to an image is to look for any halo effect that appears around objects in an image. Denny says he rarely adds any sharpening at all to his images anymore.