Getting your photos into the “Goldilocks Zone”

Someone asked me the other day: “how do I know when enough is enough? [when editing my photos]”.

Thing is there’s no way to give a quantifiable answer.

You just kinda need to hit the “goldilocks zone”.

Not too hot, not too cold, but juuuust right…

But the hard part is figuring out that perfect temperature.

It helps if you have a pre-defined workflow because when the recipe is laid out in front of you all you have to do is follow it.

But even then, it’s still very easy to overheat your porridge if you’re not paying attention.

Here’s the thing.

Your goldilocks zone will be different to everyone else’s.

And you should only be cooking for yourself… Not trying to please anyone else with how tasty your oats are.

So here’s my prescription for next time you’re editing a shot and you don’t know how far to go:

Go further than you think you need to.

Push your processing until you feel that it’s gone just a touch too far.

Whatever “too far” means to you.

Then give it a day or two and come back to it with fresh eyes.

What does your first impression tell you when you re-open it?

It might not be as over-processed as you thought at the time.

When you were in the flow, making those edits, you were probably going back and forth between the original RAW file and the “in progress” version to check how far it’s come.

But without the reference of that original RAW fresh in your mind, does it still seem over-processed?

In my own experience the answer is regularly “no”. (And sometimes there’s even room to squeeze in another couple of enhancements…)

But if it is a “yes”, it’s not as much of a “yes” as I felt when I was processing it.

In which case I’d just pull back a touch on one or two of the adjustments to get it back into the goldilocks zone.

So that’s it in a nutshell.

A great way to find your goldilocks zone is to make it a bit too hot to begin with, then let it cool down for a day or two.

When you come back it’ll seem a lot closer to “just right” and you can dial in those last couple of degrees with clean tastebuds.

And if you want to follow a recipe that will help you extract the most flavour out of your RAW files, my Luminosity Masking Mastery course is the way to go.

Get your copy here on this link.

Steve

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About The Author

Steve Arnold

Steve is the founder of photographyuncovered.net, postprocessingmastery.com and is designer and developer of the popular ScratchCam app for iPhone.