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Digital Editing technically refers to any changes made to a file to alter the appearance of the image. In practice though, it usually refers to major
changes to the image file. Digital editing is also used to repair or restore old photos that have been scratched, torn, stained or faded. Digital editing is part of file preparation and is how a standard digital print is made into a custom print. Everything from removing skin blemishes to removing your sister's ex-husband from family photos are possibilities. Digital editing may include any or all of the following:
Many artists for whom we print take their images way beyond normal color and shape. Digital editing can get quite involved and it can actually be an outlet for your creativity if you have the time and talent. But for your normal photographic image, it must first be scrutinized and cleaned of any dust that may have been captured in a scan - or perhaps any dead pixels if from a camera image. Then adjustments are made to color, density, contrast and saturation. If there are specific requests from the customer, those are performed as well.
As was mentioned in the scanning section, care must be taken to maintain detail in the highlights and shadows as much as possible. This is also true when taking a picture. Whether you use film or digital cameras, the goal is usually to achieve detail throughout the image. If areas of the image are overexposed, highlight detail will suffer. If areas are underexposed, shadow detail will be lost and some of the darker mid-tones may appear grainy or pixelated.
The same situation can occur in the editing process. If adjustments are made to make an image look good on a monitor, it may be too much for a print. Once the detail in those areas is gone, it can't be brought back with digital editing. Adjustments that affect highlights, shadows, saturation or contrast, should be done by someone proficient in the operation of image editing programs such as Photoshop. Also keep in mind monitors require less resolution than a photographic print so small sections have to be magnified for editing. A small flaw may not be noticeable on screen but becomes glaringly obvious on a print.
The amount of time and work required will vary with each image. While many things can be done in 5 or 10 minutes, other editing may still take significantly longer. It's best to let us take a look at what you want to accomplish and get an estimate of the time needed.