There are lots of way to improve images with a computer. With a Mac, the Apple Photos program built in to every Mac is always worth a try first. It’s simple to use and has some good capabilities if you look carefully. If you don’t like it, use whatever you have on your computer but I’m sure it will take you longer!
Importing you pictures
The first place to start is to import the pictures you want to edit into Apples Photos program. If you use an iPhone to take pictures, and it is connected to your Apple ID, the pictures you have taken should appear automatically in your photos library. But if you use a camera (or another phone) you can plug it into a USB port. Under the right circumstances, the Photos program will start and offer to automatically import any or all of the pictures on the camera after you plug it in.
But if it doesn’t start automatically, go to the File menu, choose “Import.” This opens a window that lets you find the pictures you want to import on your device. After navigating to the place where the pictures are, click on the one you want. If there is more than one listed there, click on the first one, then hold down the shift key then click on the last one to select them all. If they are not listed in order – one after the other, hold down the “Command” key and click on them one at a time.
Finally press the “Review for Import” button. You are then presented with a window with the pictures you chose in the last step showing in thumbnail view at the top of the window. Clicking on each picture puts a blue tick in the bottom left hand corner to show you the ones you want to import. If you want them all, click on the “Import All” button at the top. But if you don’t wan them all, select the ones you really want to import, then click the “Import Selected” button.
The Photos program then shows you a window with just the imported pictures to convince you it has done what you asked.
Double clicking on any picture, opens that picture. Then clicking on the edit button on the top right hand side of the screen opens the editor with its black background. The edit button is the one that says “Edit”!!
On the window that opens there is a list of adjustments you can make to your picture on the right hand side.
Right beside the yellow “Done” button is the Enhance button. It looks like a magic wand with stars. Clicking this button automatically adjusts the brightness and contrast and the colour settings. It’s always worth a try and if you don’t like the result, hold the command key down and press Z. This will undo the adjustments it just made.
The next button is Rotate. You use this button if the picture is on its side or upside down. It will turn the picture by 90 degrees anticlockwise for each click. If you prefer to go clockwise hold down the “Option” button and click.
There is a series of manual adjustments down on the right hand side. These gives you access to many aspects of the picture you are trying to improve. There are brightness and contrast sliders, there is a Brilliance slider, exposure etc. Open a picture yourself and have a look at the options here. They are easy to use and if you make a mistake, you can press Command Z to go back one step at a time or select “Revert to Original” at the top of the screen to go right back to the original.
Even when you have selected all the adjustments listed, there are still more available which you can see by scrolling off the bottom of the list. Maybe I’ll write about each of these adjustments in another blog in the future. I don’t want to jump too soon as Apple is about to bring out an update to its Photos program. So I’ll wait and see.
In the centre of the screen at the top is a trio of other buttons. Adjust/ Filters / Crop. Adjust is the default and gives you access to all the sliders on the right. Filter opens a list of preset adjustments and if you see something that makes your picture look better then select it. (Control Z will undo if it doesn’t look any better). The right hand button is “Crop.” It enables you to remove any extraneous material from the sides or top and bottom of a picture. It also is useful to rotate a picture slightly. This picture for example has the horizon sloping down on the left hand side. To correct this click on the crop button then, on the scale that appears on the right hand side of the picture, drag until the picture is correct. Here is a video to show you how this works – watch the right hand side of the picture to see it in action.
Adjusting the horizon this way, crops the edges of the picture as well, so the height and width of the original picture is maintained. You can adjust both if the final picture need a bit of a twerk to remove extraneous material.
Next there is a selection of filter for you to use. Some filters increase the colour content, some turn the picture back and white or increase the contrast. It’s always worth a look to see if one of the filters there does the job for you.
The retouch slider and button on the right hand side automatically corrects flaws in parts of the picture. So if for example I wanted to remove the leaves from the lawn behind the two girls in the picture, I select the band aid button, adjust the size of the correction circle to be about the same as the leaf to be removed, then click on the leaf. It will magically disappear and be replaced by a lawn coloured circle. The circle may be a bit fuzzy sometimes because it tends to use an average of the colours around it, but can remove blemished including scratches and dust spots from imported pictures and slides easily. By adjusting the size, you can sometimes adjust the correction to an extent. It usually maintains an edge in a picture. So, for example, so if I click on a blemish covering the bottom edge of the seat in the picture above, it should fix it and not remove the edge of the seat. It should leave the top half of the correction circle, seat coloured and the bottom half would be concrete coloured. Adjusting the size of the circle can effect how well it does it.
Red Eye Correct
The next slider and button down is the red eye button used to remove the red eye you get from using a flash. After selecting the button, you will be presented with a circle. Adjust the size slider until the circle matches the red eye size then click on the eye that needs fixing. The red area of the eye will go black and the red eye will be no more. The circle size simply tells the program where to look for the red eye so it doesn’t have to exactly match the size of the red area of the eye but it does have to cover the whole of the red area.
If you need more adjustments than Photos offers you, it’s possible to access other photo adjustment programs you have on your computer by selecting the three dots in a circle at the top of the picture. This gives you a menu of other programs that can be used to adjust the picture you are looking at and send it back to Photos. Unfortunately Photoshop is not supported directly. You can access it through a program called “Open in” so you select that first and then choose the photoshop option. The MacPhun suite of programs can all be accesses as can the Topaz Lab programs. You will need one of these extensions if you want to adjust only a certain portion of the picture because, except for the repair and red eye button, all of the other adjustments change the whole picture.
When you have finished, the adjustments you made are saved automatically when you press the “Done” button at the top or the arrow buttons to select another picture. If you want to see the original picture before you go back, press the M key and the screen changes to the original picture.
So have a go. Import your picture and adjust them to your hearts content. You can’t go wrong – well you can and you can always reverse anything you do.