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Basic Post Processing (Image Editing) To Make Your Pics GREAT!

Basic Post Processing (Image Editing) To Make Your Pics GREAT!

Let’s talk about the basics of your image editing software and the typical features you’ll use to improve your photos. Post processing is simply opening your photos in an image editing program so that you can improve them in various ways. Sharpening – this is the process of making your photo appear to be more in focus. Most image editing programs do a very good job at sharpening your photos automatically. However, keep in mind that sharpening is not a replacement or a quick fix for taking poor blurry pictures. Good focus and sharpness starts at the camera and can be improved by software sharpening. Saturation – this is the ability to move the colors of your photo more towards gray (desaturation) or make them more intense and vibrant (saturation). Proper use of saturation can bring your photos to life but overuse can make them look unnatural and strangely colored. Levels – the ability to control the shadows, mid tones and highlights in your photo. This is not to be confused with simple controls of contrast or lightness/darkness which only give you a flat, linear adjustment of all three (shadows, mid tones and highlights) simultaneously. “Levels” allow you to SEPARATELY control each. The midtone control will allow you to adjust an image to be lighter or darker overall. The shadows control will allow you to increase the depth and richness of shadows. The highlight control allows you to increase highlights causing the photo to have higher contrast and be more visually interesting. There are no set formulas or rules for using Levels, you just have to play around with it and learn what it does. In more basic software like Picasa, the closest you’re going to get to levels is a tool called “Fill Light” and other basic software may call it “contrast adjust”. Hue Correction – Your images will often have what is known as a “color cast” which means they appear overall to be too red, too yellow or too blue. A color cast is like holding a piece of colored film over your photo. Another common issue is that your image has the wrong TEMPERATURE. A sunny backyard photo should feel warm. Pictures of the kids playing in the snow should feel cold. Your photo may appear to be bluish (cold) when you really want it to appear warmer and more yellow. The hue control will help you to correct this. In the world of color, reds and yellows are warm, while greens, blues and violets are cold. So if you take a photo of a group of people that has a blue cast because of the lighting, those people will...

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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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