Welcome to the second part of my mini-series of posts about photography for beginners. In Part 1 I discussed the settings I use to take the majority of my photos.
I have a confession to make… some of the photos on my blog are edited before I upload them! Occasionally a shot comes out of the camera that doesn’t look the way I wanted it to. Sometimes all it needs is simple cropping but sometimes it needs a bigger fixes such as for an over or under exposed image.
Whether you’re taking photos for your blog, or for the family photo album, editing is a useful skill to have. You can crop out the crowds from the photos of your visit to a theme park or fix the family Christmas photo where you all look like you’ve been tangoed.
Editing isn’t cheating, it’s enhancing and it’s no different to the processes that photographers used to use in their dark rooms back in the days of film photography. Even professional photographers edit their photos otherwise software like Photoshop, Aperture and Lightroom wouldn’t exist!
You don’t need a degree in graphic design or take out a second mortgage for an expensive computer program to edit your photos. There is plenty of free software out there that you can use either online, as apps, or downloaded to your computer. The one I’ll be using in this post is Picmonkey. It’s free web-based software that has lots of options for improving your photos as well as creating collages and other fun stuff.
To start editing go to Pickmonkey.com and upload a photo by clicking on Edit and then selecting the place where your photo is stored.
Once your photo is uploaded you’ll be taken to the Editor page.
The majority of the tools I use can be found under the Basic Edits option and the ones I use the most are Crop, Exposure, Colours and Sharpen. If you’re not sure what each tool does don’t worry because Picmonkey have a whole host of great tutorials on their site. This one covers each of the options under Basic Edits and does a far better job of it than I could do!
Let’s see it in action
The photo below is too large and a little underexposed having been taken in a room that doesn’t get a lot of natural light. Bubs (being cheeky madam!) is the main focus of the image and there is a lot of unnecessary space at the top.
With a bit of cropping, brightening and resizing it looks like this.
Cropping, Brightness: 11, Contrast: 5, Saturation: 7, Temp: 4, Resize to 800×533 keeping original proportions
The next photo could go on my blog as it is but Bubs hair and eyes look a little flat. Her eyes are blue but in the photo they look grey.
In the finished photo below you can see that upping the saturation has brought out the colour in Bubs’ hair and eyes. I increased the sharpening and clarity to enhance the detail and finally applied the Tranquil effect. A professional would probably do some retouching to tidy up the mess around her mouth, but I’m just a mum who knows that toddlers constantly have a mucky face and sticky hands so I’m not going to bother.
Saturation: 5, Sharpen: 20, Clarity: 12%, Effect: Tranquil
Next up is a photo I took in a rush without checking the settings on my camera. I was desperate to catch Bubs with the phone to her ear! The white balance is all wrong and it’s underexposed but luckily these are easy fixes.
I used the Temperature tool to eliminate the orange tone and then I increased the Brightness to fix the exposure. The photo still looked a little flat so I increased the depth of any shadows and increased the contrast. Finally I applied my favourite sharpening and clarity settings.
Temperature: -59, Brightness: 20, Shadows: 7, Contrast: 12, Sharpness: 20, Clarity: 12%
The aim of editing is to enhance your photos but still leave them looking realistic. Don’t be tempted to remove every single imperfection. I know I’d much rather see pictures of smiling mums with crows feet or kids with chocolate all over their faces than a perfectly airbrushed photo any day!
If you have an editing program that you love to use then please share it in the comments.