Photo editing has come a long way since the darkroom. Actions that used to take hours of painstaking work can now be done or, more importantly, undone at the click of a mouse. So where do you get started in learning how to navigate the world of digital photo editing? We’ve created this quick guide to help you start in the right direction.
Photo Editing Software
There is a long list of software on the market that is made exclusively for editing photos. They have an incredible range in terms of both price and quality. Ultimately, you have to decide how much editing you want to do with your pictures and how much you want to spend. In this article, we won’t discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each photo editor, but know there is a lot of options to choose from depending upon what you want. If you’re looking for free editors, you should look at The Gimp or Paint.net or if you want to buy a professional program definitely check out Adobe Photoshop.
Basic Functions of Photo Editing Software
Though editing software can be incredibly complex and allow near-infinite options, there are a few things that you’ll want to get a grasp on that will take care of most of the things you’re looking for when editing basic photos.
- Cropping: When you crop an image it involves creating a new frame so you can remove the parts of the image you don’t want. So, anything inside the frame will become your new cropped image while anything outside the frame will be deleted. Just remember that when you crop an image, it ultimately changes the final dimensions of your picture so make sure to crop with the same aspect ratio (or width to height) otherwise your printed picture won’t come out.
- Image Contrast: Contrast impacts how much the colors or tones stand out from one another. By adding contrast, the darks will get darker and the lights will get lighter, but if you remove contrast your image will turn into a gray mess. If you want the grain of your pictures to stand out and be noticed, you may want to increase the picture’s contrast.
- Brightness: Brightness refers to the level of lighting of the entire picture. If you’ve taken a picture that turned out too dark, turning up the brightness may help some of the details stand out. If you raise the brightness and the contrast together, little by little, you may be able to salvage an image that previously seemed ruined.
- Saturation: Saturation refers to the intensity and depth of the colors in your picture. If you remove the saturation from a color picture, the photo will change to black and white. If you amp it up, your colors will quickly begin to look unnatural and super-bright.
- The Hue: The hue changes the tone of your picture. If you change the hue, your picture will change from a green or blue tint to purple, red or any other possible color. While hue may seem weird at first, it does wonders for cleaning up the gross green tones that seem to sink into every image taken under fluorescent light.
- Transforming Your Photo: Although each software does it differently, they all allow you to rotate, resize or flip your picture. Hopefully you won’t have to make too many adjustments of this nature, but should an image turn out slightly crooked it’s good to know you have alternatives.
Regardless of which photo editing software you use, you should be able to adjust all of the elements mentioned above so you can get your photos exactly how you want them. One way to add depth and bring out the picture’s color is to decrease the saturation amount while increasing the contrast. Otherwise, do your best not to rely on editing and try to get all of the work done in the camera. If you’re going to spend time editing a picture, make sure you start off with a good picture and make it better instead of trying to make a bad picture good.