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Basic Image Editing (Post Processing) of Your Photos

Basic Image Editing (Post Processing) of Your Photos

Post processing is just a fancy way of saying “cleanup and polish up your photos in an image editor”. There are basic things you can do to almost every photo to improve it. In this quick start section, I can’t go into detail about each of these four basic tasks. I’ll let you know what they are here but you’ll need to do some further education to become proficient at them. The reason why I mention them in this quick start guide is because these four items alone are enough to dramatically improve almost all of your photos: Cropping your photos means cutting off the parts of your photo that do not add to the quality of the photo. It is a sort of “zooming in” on the most interesting aspects of the photo. By learning to crop your photos, you give the appearance of always having captured the perfect composition and framing of the subject. Here’s an original uncropped: Now cropped… see how the feeling of the photo changes? It’s not all about the quarterback and not the stands and clutter in the background: Levels (“fill light” or “contrast” as it is called in more basic software) is the ability to control the shadows, mid tones and highlights of a photograph. It is the overall lightness, darkness and contrast of your image. Typically, you will slightly increase the highlights, lighten the mid tones and darken the shadows a tiny amount. Not always, but often. By adjusting the levels you increase the contrast and richness of the image. Software like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro allow you to independently adjust all three, where more basic software like Picasa or Windows Photo Gallery give you one control and the software does the thinking for you. Saturation is adjusting the brightness and vibrancy of color. If you de-saturate a photo, you are moving it towards being a grayscale image. If you saturate, it’s just the opposite. You are causing the colors to be more rich and intense. Typically you’ll want to increase the saturation on your images to help bring them to life. Be careful, as oversaturation looks unnatural and can easily ruin a photo. Here’s an original: Now with appropriate saturation that enhances the image: Sharpening is a filter that gives the appearance of causing your photo to become more focused. Over-sharpening can cause an unnatural graininess where proper sharpening can transform a soft image into a spectacularly crisp photo. Except in photos where the blur is on purpose, sharpening is a terrific, and standard, improvement to your photos. A soft, out of focus shot: A sharp, in focus image: These are some basics you...

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YOU Can Have Great Photos For Christmas!

YOU Can Have Great Photos For Christmas!

From Brent: Just in time for Christmas, I just published an issue of SeriousLife Magazine – a special edition all about Digital Photography. Check it out today, and by the time Christmas rolls around, you’ll be ready to shoot fantastic photos. Brent...

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Example: Photo Enhancement – Portrait

Example: Photo Enhancement – Portrait

Sometimes you get a good photo – nice shot, good crop, great subject, visually interesting – but it just doesn’t have that “pop” that would make it a framed print on your wall.  No worries… Learn to play around with your image editing software and you’ll soon learn how to transform “blah” photos to good, and “good” photos to masterpieces.  Check this one out: I would love to show you a step by step how I transformed it but all this is really just playing around in my image editor with a really technical process that goes something like this: Hmmm… I wonder what this would look like? Yep, that’s pretty good. Now, how about a little of this… nope, UNDO. Let’s see, what if I took that and brush it over here and applied this filter? Yeah, now we’re talkin’…” Sorry to get so technical on you. Here’s some general things/tools/tricks for portraits: Use the sharpening for areas, especially the eyes, and whatever else has interesting detail like the hair in the foreground on this photo.  Softening (blurring) tools can be used to soften skin tones and backgrounds. Use tools that “warm” the photo: boosting yellow, saturation, lightly enhancing reds (red and yellow are warm; blue and violet are cold). For everyone except YOU, you should select (use masking tools) those teeth that appear to be while, and use the HUE correction tools to desaturate and lighten the “yellow”… yes, the yellow.  Most people have slightly yellowed teeth, it’s just a fact of life (except young children who often have snow white teeth). Select pupils and increase the color and saturation… not too much or it will look fake; but just a little, and POW, the eyes pop out.  No, not like horror movie or hanging pop out… like jump off the photo and looking stunning kind of “pop out”. And remember the #1 rule… don’t use your camera flash if at all possible. Light from a flash if a good photo’s worse enemy. Use natural, soft light whenever possible. Here’s another: Then I applied some softening to the skin, sharpening to the eyes and hair, increased the overall lighting and contrast, used saturation for richer color, and whitened her teeth and shirt even more than usual to give a stark contrast to the darkness of the background and dress. What are your questions about photo image editing or taking good...

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Demo: Making Lemonade Images From Lemo Photos

Demo: Making Lemonade Images From Lemo Photos

Sometimes you just get bad shots. Great subject, great timing, perfect arrangement and mood… UGH! Bad photo! The lighting, equipment, subject and environment all conspire to ruin your photography. More often, the culprit is that lowest price, cheap-o camera equipment you keep hoping will somehow produce magically good photos… but I digress  (FYI, even typical pocket digitals can take good photos if you take some time to learn what you are doing). With a little creativity and some image editing software, you can often turn a yuck image into something interesting. If you luck out, you can even make it look like you DID IT ON PURPOSE! That’s the magic of post production (or what us common folks call “messing around in my paint program”). Here’s an example of a horrible photo I took tonight of Abby. Bad lighting, wrong settings on my camera… I was trying out some new combinations of exposure and a yellow spot light in my already poorly lit office.  It was so bad, I decided to use it as an example of squeezing a lemon and getting some lemonade. I’ll let you decide if I was successful. The point is, a bad photo is not ALWAYS destined for the virtual recycle bin. With a little creativity, and some good old fashioned messing around in your image editing software, you can SOMETIMES turn that dog into a flower, or at least a cute puppy. Here is the original that suffered from terrible lighting and even worse settings on my camera. First thing we do is a good crop. Careful cropping makes average pictures remarkably better. Learn to crop. Then, I used the Shadow/Highlight function to remove some of the darkness. Most image editors have a tool like this. When you remove shadows, you often get grainy textures and an awful lack of contrast but it does give us a little more detail to work with. The photo is fairly interesting visually now but lacks any impact. We may be setting our sights to high, but look back and remember what we started with. One more effect and we’ll call it a work of art: Not a Masterpiece, Not The Point Keep in mind… this demo was not an attempt have you create that worldclass masterpiece professional gallery-worthy magazine cover image. It was an exercise in “rescue creativity” to show you that don’t always have to trash that cute pose or interesting scene that was photo-junk because of bad lighting or the wrong settings on your camera. My point was to show you that a bad photo can be rescued with creativity. How do you learn that creativity? Simple… just mess...

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Question: How Can I Protect My Photos From Duplication or Printing?

A reader asked: Do you have any idea how I can post photos to the blog but make them where they cannot be duplicated or printed? I hate to have to do this but someone tried to use my photos for false advertisement and I don’t want it to happen again. – – – – – – – You can add a “no right click” script to your blog (the code is at the end of this post) that keeps people from being able to right click and SAVE/PRINT but it also disables any other right click functionality that is typical in a browser. I’ve found that it is more of a nuisance than a help. In fact, it can be downright annoying to site visitor AND… For any viewer that knows how to save a web page or do a screen shot, you can’t stop them from “getting” your photos anyway. There are a dozen ways to get around this “trick”. When you have pics you don’t want used, the best way is to simply put up a note and make sure your viewers know “please don’t use these pics on another blog or print them because…”. You can’t stop the malicious from doing it if they really want to. A good rule of thumb is: if you put it online, you better be okay with it being copied all over the Internet. In fact, to pretend that statement isn’t universally true is simply to invite heartache or problems (that’s a hint to all you Facebook party pic posters, YouTube wasting time at work wannabe’s and FlickR “only for my husband” photos not-suitable-for-work ladies). Here’s the “no right click” code. Find the BODY tag, and modify it to this: <body oncontextmenu=”return false;”> OR… Put this script inside the HEAD tags of your...

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