I encourage people to experiment with their editing. Post processing software is essential in bringing life to digital images. One thing I see way too much of from people though is oversaturating the heck out of their pictures.
Photography is art and colors are pretty. I get it. When first learning photography I had a brief period where my images were way over edited. It can be tempting to slide those vibrance and saturation levels up, but at what point is it too much? For me, I strive to edit my images to be as close to what I remember the scene looking like at the time. Sometimes that takes a lot of work, as digital photographs often tend to start off flatter and desaturated compared to the original scene.
One thing that is certain is that most of your family and friends will tell you that your pictures are absolutely fantastic, no matter what. People want to encourage you and some of that is a great thing when you're learning photography. Your picture might even do well on social media, lavished with likes and comments such as "great work" and "nice job". Compliments are nice. They put a smile on our face and make us feel warm inside.
Compliments don't make us better photographers. If you hope to be taken seriously, you should take a long look at your editing workflow. If you have the slightest inclination that your images may be overdone, they likely are.
If you think that your work may be overdone, there are a few ways to get your editing on the right path to produce realistic images.
- Calibrate your monitor. Images display differently on varying devices and printers. If your monitor is calibrated you can at least be sure that your image is optimized for wherever it ends up. There are a few ways to do this including external hardware such as Spyder Monitor Calibrators and software that is built in to your computer. A few clicks could make a big difference in what your monitor shows you while you're editing
- Ask established photographers. Many photographers have no problem offering tips or critiques on how to make your work better. Personally I have learned much more from being told what was wrong with my images than what was right with them.
- Take a class on Photoshop. Whether it be at your local college, an online course, or free tutorials of which there are a plethora of on the interwebs, a little bit of your time learning from a good resource can equate to a big improvement in your work.
If you have already figured all of this out, great! My advice is if you run across a particular image posted online that suffers from overprocessing, the best way to offer critique is through a private message to the photographer. Don't get on people's posts and start trashing their work. It doesn't make you look professional, smart, or cool...it makes you look like a bully and a jerk.