With using photo editing software, you can easily enhance, sort and store digital images. In this article we look at scoring and keeping track of your images, applying effects, and the formats that you may need to share your work with others.
Use these easy to follow image editing guidelines and take your image editing skills to the next level. This article shows image editing guidelines that are fun and easy to use.
The storage methods used on digital cameras are another feature that makes them more attractive than film cameras. Since the cards are very small and light, you can easily carry several spares with enough capacity to hold thousands of images.
When I am away on holiday, I always take more than one memory card with me. I can then go to a camera shop and pay for the images to be downloaded onto a CD whenever the cards start to fill up. Some shops will also provide you with an index sheet as part of the download operation. These have all your shots shown as “thumbnails” – a mini image of each photo, which is very useful for cross-referencing (see opposite).
Most people have access to a computer, unless they will generally want to download images themselves. This is a straightforward operation between most cameras and computers. The images stored on the memory card are shown as a mini gallery.
Download programs will usually offer the facility to select any or all of the images for transferred as well as the ability to delete any or all of them as desired. This is where a little organization is helpful.
If you have been using your camera for a while, you will find that it is hard to remember which folder holds which images. Create a series of folders with descriptive names and a date to help you.
Good Image manipulation software makes all the difference when working with digital photographs. Among the two most popular are Adobe Photoshop and Jasc Paint Shop Pro. Photoshop is the more powerful program, although a reduced version (Photoshop Elements or LE) is perfect for the beginner. Paint Shop Pro is less powerful than the full Photoshop version, but more affordable for the keen amateur.
If you use a high resolution, when you download your images they will be very large. So the first thing to do is shrink them to suit your purposes – this is called “resizing”. It is a good idea to leave the original image untouched, however, and to save a copy. This way, if you mess up the image, you still have the original from which you can make a further copy.
Tip: high resolution pictures can soon fill up a 32MB memory card. As well as taking a spare card, consider purchasing one with more capacity – anything up to 4GB!
Once the image is a manageable size, the next job is wanted edges away from the main subject -this is called “Cropping”. Select the popping tool from the tool palette. If it isn’t visible, go to “View”, select “Toolbars” and tick the “Tool Palette” box. The palette will then appear down the left side of the screen. With the cropping tool selected, the mouse cursor will change from an arrow to what looks like two overlapping arrows. Position the cropping tool somewhere on the top left of the image (it doesn’t matter where), and hold the left mouse button down. Keeping it down, drag the toot across to somewhere on the bottom right, and then release the button. You will now have a thin black rectangle over your image.
Using the mouse, position the four sides of the rectangle to correspond with the points where you would like the outside edges to be. When you are happy with the cropping lines, double-click the mouse anywhere on the image. The areas outside the crop lines will be removed and you will be left with a cropped image. If you are not happy with the results go to “Edit” and click on “Undo Crop”! Alternatively, hold down the control key and press the “z” key.
If you need to make the file sizes of your images small enough to send by e-mail, or to post on a website, then resizing and cropping your images will indeed make them smaller. However, there is another way to minimize the file size. This is known as compressing.
To compress an image file, open the image in Paint Shop Pro, select “Edit” and then “Save As”. A dialog box appears and you will see a button in the bottom right-hand corner of the box labeled “Options”, If you click this, a second dialog box opens called “Save Options”. You will see that there is something called a “slide bar” running from left to right across the box. At the left it says “Lowest compression, best quality”, and at the right it says “Highest compression, lowest quality”. You will also see that there is an indicator arrow shaped like the end of a house. This can be dragged along the line using the mouse. It is worth experimenting to see exactly what effect this has on your image. Don’t forget; however never experiment with the original file. Always make a spare copy called “My_Test_Image”; for example, just in case it all goes horribly wrong!
The two extremes of the compression scale are easy to define. If you use maximum compression, you will get a very small file, but the quality will be so bad that you may have trouble recognizing it as your image. On the other hand, if you use maximum quality, the image size will hardly change. It is worth spending some time finding out which level of compression will best suit your task.
One of the most useful facilities that you will find in all the commercially available graphics packages is the ability to zoom in on specific parts of your images. This is useful if you have taken a photograph quickly, without giving the final composition of your shot much thought. By zooming in, you can decide whether the focal point of the image is good enough to crop. While it is good to be able to check how sharp the focus is, the ready useful aspect is that when you are re-touching an image, you can expand the image until you are looking at individual pixels. In other words, if you have got the time and patience, you can completely rebuild your image from scratch.
The zoom out facility can be very handy if you have an image that needs to be shrunk down for some purpose, such as posting it onto a website; it means that you can look at it on screen at the actual size it is going to end up at before you make any changes. By doing this, you can get an idea as to whether you need to perform any cropping, and whether you can get away with applying any compression without losing too much detail.
Some digital cameras will automatically rotate your images so that whichever way up you hold the camera the shot always appears the right way up.
If you are sending your images off to other people for use in websites, glossy magazines, enthusiast publications, or by family and friends, sooner or later you are going to be asked to use an image format that you are not familiar with. It may be that your camera saves images in the JPEG format for instance, and a magazine has asked you to supply images in the TIFF format, since this is what the publishing industry usually works with. If this is the case, find the original file (the unadulterated image) and make a further copy of it. You need to do this because if you have resized or compressed image you will have lost a lot of the detail, and magazines need the highest possible quality for reduction. Open this copied original, go to “Edit”, and click “Save As”. Explore the list of formats offered, select the appropriate one, and then click “Save” – and that is all there is to format conversion!
You want to publish some photographs of a motorcycle on a website, but for security reasons, you do not want the number plate to appear. Firstly, resize and crop the image. In your graphics package, make sure you have the tool, color and control palettes visible. Select the paintbrush tool and use the controls palette to choose the shape and size of the paintbrush. Next choose the color to “paint” out the figures. Position the mouse pointer over the color palette; as you move it around the current color is shown in a small box below the palette. When you have found the color you want click on it and your chosen color is displayed. Now you start painting by clicking on the image and dragging the paintbrush around.
There are a lot more things that can be done with a graphics package than painting out letters. If you have an artistic flair, or think you may have, it is well worth taking an image and experimenting with all the effects your particular graphics program can produce. The more recent releases have a stunning array of options that can make a huge difference t an image, but when they are combined, the sky is the limit! For a start, have you thought about what an image that is shot at night might look like when sees as a negative?
Sometimes when you look at your finished work decide that the subject – or focal point – of the image is unclear and that you would like to give this feature more emphasis. Rather than simply cropping in to a feature in your photograph, which then effectively removes the rest of the image, you may wish to retain the entire scene but highlight the main focal point of interest.
In Paint Shop Pro, an effect that can draw attention to a particular element in your image is adding a magnifying lens. As with most of the other manipulation tricks that can be applied to an image in this software package, this effect can be adjusted to the smallest degree. This means that you are in control as to how big the magnifying lens appears and what degree of magnification is applied to the important element.
Once you have resized, cropped and compressed your image, you might want to give it a fancy frame. Most graphics packages come with a variety of picture framing functions, including the film slide frame. Other framing styles include various picture frame effects – both modern and traditional soft-focus frames – in many shapes, as well as a “ripped-paper” effect to look as if the image has been torn from the page.
Lots of digital cameras on the market come with a red eye removal feature. However, if your camera does not, then you can easily remove this common problem by using image editing software. Most of these programs use a dedicated red eye removal feature. You can perform the function manually as well by zooming in on the individual pixels and recoloring them.
There are numerous effects that can be achieved using the inbuilt features of most image manipulation software. You can also buy or internet-download free hundreds of additional features.
Photoshop comes with its own equivalent to Paint Shop Pro’s “Gloop” effect. With the “Liquify” filter, you can distort any part of an image, making the image, look as if it has turned to liquid. In Photoshop Elements, go to the “Filter” menu, find “Liquify” in the pull¬-down menu and apply the Liquify filter to whatever area you select on an image. With the cursor pressed down where you want the distortion to start simply drag the particular feature to where you think is suitable within the image. Liquify feature is great fun to play around with.
Another distortion filter that comes with most image manipulation software is the “Pinch” effect. As its name suggests, it is almost as if a point of an image stretches or squeezes the entire image from the point of selection. In Photoshop Elements, when you choose “Pinch” – which is found in the Filter menu under “Distort”- a sliding scale bar will appear, as well as the part of the image to be distorted. The image snapshot allows you to gauge in real time what the overall effect will be when certain levels of pinch are applied.
The scale values in Pinch range from -100 to +100. Positive values squeeze the distortion towards the centre of the image; negative values shift or extrude it outwards. Practice makes perfect with this feature!
Nowadays, image editing software is so sophisticated that it can take our photographs back to a time before cameras were invented and turn them into veritable works of art. Various artistic filters are available, producing effects that the finest Impressionist master would be proud of! The features produced include: a charcoal drawing effect; a crayon or pencil drawing effect a filter that turns a picture into an oil painting or a watercolor; a sponge or smudge stick effect; and a rough pastel filter. When you select any of these filters, you are given the option of how much of the effect you wish to apply to your image. The choice, of course, is entirely yours and will depend on the type of stylized effect that you wish to achieve.
Inevitably, when you have down loaded your images onto the computer and have opened them up to view them, you may be a little disappointed by the lack of sharpness of some. The detail of certain parts of the image may not have come out as dearly as you would have liked. Have no fear – image editing software is here! The Sharpen menu will pull pixels together, improving the definition of a fuzzy or hazy looking image. “Sharpen More” or “Sharpen Edges” may improve the image. However, it may make it look pixelated and even lose its resolution. Again, experiment with an image. You can always press Control Z to undo any changes to the image.
Another problem that you may have with your digital images is that they sometimes appear slightly washed out. This generally means that the color is not as vibrant as you remember when you took the photograph in the first place. In Photoshop Elements, pull down the Enhance menu go to color and select Hue/Saturation. In the dialog box, slide the Saturation scale to the right to increase the intensity of the colors. This will affect all colors in the image. If you wanted to concentrate on skin tones, for example, in the Edit menu at the top of the dialog box, select Reds and again slide the Saturation scale slightly to the left to adjust the tones.