Thursday, June 30, 2005

Touching Up Digital Photos

Everyone who owns a digital camera knows how much more versatile they are compared to their film counterparts. You have many features that you can switch off and on at the touch of a button, and you can preview and delete any photos that don't quite measure up to your standards. Even when you get a good photo on your digital camera, it's probably not the absolute best it can be. So before you print your pictures out on your own or take a CD full of snapshots to a store for printing, review the images on your computer. Then use some photography software, more properly called graphics software, to enhance your pictures.

Even when you think your pictures look pretty good on your screen, graphics software can make them much better. One of the most well-known and trusted graphics software programs is Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is an extremely powerful tool that takes most people a long time to master. There are lots of features and the user interface looks a bit complicated at first. Don't let that scare you off, though. There are some very simple and quick touch-ups that you can perform without having to wade through several user's manuals. For those of you who might balk at the $600 or so price tag, there is a scaled-down version called Photoshop Elements. There are fewer features, but beginning users won't even know what's missing.

One common problem in photos is redeye. This has ruined more film pictures for me than I can count. But redeye can be fixed quite easily in Photoshop. In fact, the software that came with your digital camera probably has a redeye removal tool. The exact steps for removing redeye depend on the software you have, but it's pretty easy to figure out.

The other quick fixes that you can perform have to do with color and brightness. These functions can be found under the "Enhance" tab in Photoshop. The first thing you can do is click Enhance and then Auto Levels, which ought to brighten your picture up a bit. Remember, if you don't like what your picture looks like after any of these steps, you can just click the Undo arrow. Next, go into Enhance again, and click on Color, and then click on Hue/Saturation. Play with the slide bar until you get the colors in your picture to a hue that you like. This step can really make your pictures look great by making the colors come alive. The last thing I like to do is click on Enhance, and then Brightness/Contrast. Again, just move the slide bar until you like what you see on the screen. You might find you don't even need to change anything here.

This is what I do to every digital photo I take before printing. These four simple steps help ensure that all my pictures are free from redeye, are bright, and are alive with color. Try it for yourself and see what a difference it makes!

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