The biggest thing I've learned, is: DO NOT OVER EDIT!
Okay, let me explain. The first time I found an editing program on my computer, I was super excited. I experimented with all sorts of different lighting and features. But because of lack of experience, I ended up ruining most of my photo's. I added too many shadows, and made the pictures overly bright with highlights, making the lighting look too vibrant and almost blinding.
My experience with photography is that most people want their photographs to look professional. When I say "do not over edit" I mean that you want to enhance the lighting and effects without letting them "take away" from the beauty of the photo. Make the lighting look natural.
For example, here are two pictures. One is edited A LOT, while the other is edited to enhance. Can you guess which one is which?
Personally, I like #2 better than #1. It's less blinding =). Maybe the example is a bit exaggerated, but hopefully you understand my point!
Always, Always, Always, SAVE THE PICTURE BEFORE YOU EDIT IT!
This is something I've had to learn the hard way. Many a time, I've edited a photo and ruined it because I didn't make a copy of the original before I started "experimenting".
Use crop! It's a great help. Although I don't suggest it as your main plan of action when taking pictures (meaning try to get a unique perspective on the item your photographing in the first place instead of just cropping it later...something I am still learning) I do think it's a great tool. Cropping helps let you get rid of excess picture space and directs the focus back to the main subject. For example, here is a picture I took:
There is lots of "excess space" in the picture.
So you can use crop to edit the picture and bring the main focus back to the flower AND make the perspective a little more interesting! I know on Picasa, and other editing programs, sometimes suggest different ways to crop the picture! Here's how I cropped it:
Just have fun. Don't compare the pictures you take with the ones your friends or other photographers take, because that only discourages you! (I know!) Photography is all about capturing the moment and God's beautiful creation. Editing is another fun way to bring in the color your camera didn't capture! (or add color that wasn't there too!) Don't be afraid to experiment!
If you have any photography tips you want to add, feel free to comment below! I'm still growing in this area and I would love to learn more tips and tricks!
Thanks for reading!