Friday, March 26, 2010

13 Ways to Better Photos...Day 11 {editing}

Aside from the rule of thirds, composition, & telling your story, my opinion boasts that photo touch-ups are the fourth “key” to better photos. No, not this kind of “touch-up”:
…just a little light enhancement, a little contrast, & a little cropping can make a HUGE difference in the finished product. And I promise…it’ll be a LOT better to look at.

Let’s look at some examples.
day 11 katiefamily.030 RAW
This is Katie & Shaun. Pretty decent picture, right? Composition is there. My angle was decent (they were seated, I was standing directly above them on my tippy-toes). The rule of thirds is in play (can you spot the landmarks?). And the lighting isn’t an eye-sore. But look what happens when I lighten the photo just a little bit, add a bit of contrast, & play with my RGB color curves…
day 11 katiefamily.030
See the difference? Pretty amazing, huh?

Now, before we go any further, I need to make an announcement: I DO NOT OWN PHOTOSHOP. Editing programs with full capacity (like full, professional capacity) are EX.PEN.SIVE. Like please-plant-a-money-tree-in-my-backyard expensive. Which is why Photoshop has not graced our desk (yet). Good news, though. LOTS of free resources are available that will give you almost-as-good results!

For ALL of my photos, I use a basic editing program that came with my camera. It allows me to lighten the photos, play with the contrast, & use RGB color curves to enhance the photos. The “curves” (as they are commonly called) are a great, easy way to edit pictures—although not all “basic” programs have that feature.

Here is a photo of Joelle, taken in less-than-ideal lighting. I edited it using my “free-came-with-my-camera” programs (including editing with “curves”).
day 11 jbpritchard.006 RAW
And here is the same photo AFTER editing:
day 11 jbpritchard.006b
(tip: with less-than-ideal lighting, a trick-of-the-trade is to convert your photos to black & white. You won’t notice the yellow tint or extra glare…AND they take on a much more classic look!).

After taking pictures for only a couple of years with my semi-“fancy” camera, I learned that shooting photos in RAW format COMPLETELY changes what you can do with the pictures! IT IS AMAZING! Now, not all point-and-shoot’s have this feature…but if your camera does, bust out that manual & learn how to do it! You’ll never go back! Let’s take a look, shall we?

This is Karly. She was on a family shoot I did sometime back in the fall (which is still yet-to-be-blogged). I was taking individual photos of all the kids…& forgot to change my manual settings when I snapped this photo.
day 11 nelson.112 RAW
See the yellow tint? See how over-exposed it is? YUCK.

So…because the photo was shot in RAW (instead of plain ol’ jpg), I was able to literally change my manual settings AFTER THE FACT. And this is what we ended up with!....
day 11 nelson.112
Although the final-finish of this photo is a little “green” for my liking, it is a vast improvement from the first, yes?

Among the free photo resources available on the internet, Picnik remains one of my favorites. In fact, I use it to do my “final edits” for my clients (that is, until Photoshop comes to live with us). And it isn’t perfect. It takes a LONG time for such large photos. But for now, it works. I’m all about work-with-what-you-have….and this site does the trick!

This is Alyssa.
day 11 alyssa006 RAW
Decent photo, right? (beautiful girl, yes?)

This is Alyssa after my free came-with-my-camera basic editing.
day 11 alyssa006

This is Alyssa after playing with the same photo above in Picnik…
day 11 alyssa006.o
(“Orton” at about 75%)
day 11 alyssa006.cp
(“Cross Process” at about 75%)
day 11 alyssa006.s
(“Sepia” at 100%)

See what a difference it makes? HUGE!

So take the time to edit your photos. I PROMISE you’ll love them more in the end. And take the EXTRA time to edit those make-my-heart-melt favorites—make them really frame-worthy with that extra 15 minutes spent on the computer. EVERY professional photography takes time post-processing (a fancy term for perfecting your already-shot-photos on the computer). You won’t regret it.

Other resources:
To make photo collages (like this!): Big Huge Labs, (trial version) Microsoft Digital Image Suite

Other great editing resources & examples:
Another great example of one photo i'm totally jealous of...

1 comment:

Peter said...

Another photo editing program to consider is the GNU Image Manipulation Program( It is open source, so it is free, and is extremely powerful if you can get used to the layout of the controls.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin