Ok, so you had a great holiday and you’ve got yourself a load of photo's and a piece of software so how should you edit your holiday photos?
This can be very daunting at first, but don’t worry, there isn’t that much to learn to start making good photos look great. Think of your editing software as a way of perfecting whatever you shot on the camera.
Most editing packages will allow you to apply a whole heap of filters that do all sorts of things, from making your photo look like etchings to giving everything the kind of neon glow and much more. When you start out, play with the software. You'll probably waste away hours turning people green or making pictures of your mates look like they are surrounded by bubbles. It's kind of therapeutic, its fun and this can ultimately only be a good thing.
This sort of trial and error will teach you a lot about the way the software works. For the most part you should aim to make your travel photos look as if they haven’t even been edited at all, you will perfect and develop your skill over time. There really are a a lot of things you can do to your pictures and if you make a mistake you can always correct it.
The most basic alterations are simple colour adjustments. Most image packages have quick fixes for these, which are meant to make the colour look more authentic. Have a look in the menus to find terms such as "brightness / contrast", "hue / saturation", "levels", "curves" and "shadows / highlights." They will most likely all appear in the same place in your software package.
Adjusting and Correcting Colours
Auto Colour and Auto Levels… These are quick fixes that adjust the colours, making them appear more natural. Sometimes if the light is artificial, pictures will appear a strange colour; a quick click of one of these buttons will usually sort it out though.
Brightness and Contrast… One of the simplest things you can do is make an image lighter or darker, or increase or decrease its contrast.Sometimes a quick and simple adjustment of the brightness and contrast is enough to turn a dull underexposed snapshot into a nice high impact photograph.
Hue, Saturation, Levels and Curves… An alternative to Auto Levels and Auto Colour are these manual methods of correcting colour. Hue allows you to change the colour of an image and saturation allows you to make an image more colourful. The more you increase the saturation the more colourful the image becomes… be careful not to overdo it though especially on portrait photos…
Caucasian people’s skin contains a lot of red so oversaturating it has the effect of making them look like they have a bad case of sunburn!
Levels and curves are very delicate, and quite complex. Levels allow you to adjust the amount of the 3 primary colours individually, and curves go one step further by allowing you to adjust the shadows and highlights too.
Avoid using them until you become more skilled at editing, but don’t be scared to experiment later as they are far more flexible and precise than the basic adjustments.
Shadows and Highlights… These adjustments are a relatively recent addition to image editing software, so you may not have them if you’re using older or entry level packages. They allow you to brighten the dark regions of an image, and darken the bright bits. Once again this is a delicate process, overdoing it can ruin an image, so be sure to combine it with a brightness and contrast adjustment rather than trying to correct everything using shadows and highlights.
Cropping… The ability to crop images can be a really useful tool for improving your composition. Sometimes cropping an image by as little as 5% can make a world of difference, at other times cropping out over half of a photo can turn an insignificant area of a large image into a stunning new shot. Cropping is usually done with a crop tool.
When cropping, remember to make the shot look like an unedited photo; if possible don’t stray from standard photo shapes and sizes. Long thin photos look cropped, but cropped photos which are the same dimensions as the original don’t.
Rotating the image to line up the vertical and horizontal lines with the edges of the image will also help make your image more striking. Rotating is generally accessed from one of the menus, check your software’s help guide for more details.
Toning and Desaturating… Most editing packages will give you the options to do all sorts of things to your images, most of which you will probably not use, but there are a few useful ones. The first of these is the option to desaturate: meaning to turn a colour image into black and white. There are several ways to do this.
Some programs require you to go into hue/saturation and bring the saturation right down, others have a desaturate option, and some allow you to change the colour mode of an image to grayscale… all have roughly the same effect.
Choosing what to make black and white and what to make colour is entirely down to you, but as a general rule think about textures and shapes when shooting for black and white. Black and white images accentuate textures as they attract your eye more when there is no colour, and strong geometric shapes often look far bolder in black and white than they do in colour.
Toning allows you to add a colour to a black and white (or sometimes a colour) image. Check the help files to find out how to tone image using your software. Adding a tiny touch of blue to a wintery B&W image, a touch or orange to a summery photo, or a little brown to a nostalgic one can make a difference.
For more striking results, once you are comfortable with desaturating, look into converting to black and white through coloured filters, this will allow you to accentuate different parts of the image depending on the coloured filter used.
All of the editing techniques mentioned here are fairly basic, but should be more than enough to help you improve your photos. There are loads of things that good software packages can do if you take the time to learn them properly. With a little patience and careful practise it won’t take long to learn how to adjust the perspective of an image, alter the colours individually, stitch two photos together, or even remove people or objects that you don’t want.
TAKE YOUR SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Learning all the ways you can edit your photos and images is like someone that finally learns the proper drawing techniques. Before, the person was making interesting doodles, now he/she's creating works of art. The talent was there but it was not fully utilized. And it's the same thing with digital art and photo editing, once you learn the proper methods, you then unleash the creativity in you that couldn't fully be expressed before. Click the banner to learn more…
What you'll learn on this site is just the start, a glimpse of what's possible for you to achieve. By joining this site and practicing what I'll teach you, I firmly believe that you too can become a photo/image editing expert. You may doubt your potential at first but I guarantee you that after surprising yourself a few times with better than expected results, your confidence will grow and you will be believing in your true potential.
Finally remember… The trick is to learn the basics first; and more importantly, to learn when and if to use them. Carefully combining the various colour and contrast adjustments is a skill in itself. Learn from your editing too, and think about it when you shoot photos. If you find yourself recropping a certain kind of image in a certain way, try to shoot the photo in such a way that you won’t need to crop it in future. If you find that your zoom isn’t long enough to get the photo you want, don’t fret about it, shoot the photo anyway and crop it later.
Most of all have fun and experiment. Editing and processing is a skill in itself. Process everything! Almost every single photo ever shot can be perfected and improved in some way. If you shoot and edit enough, you’ll soon find that not only are you developing your own style of photography but your own unique way of editing too. This combination will be vital to developing your own style, and making your images stand out.