Photo Editing – why, and what I can start on?

 Before and After Editing Photo

Whether we take photos on our phones, on very portable cameras or the larger DSLR cameras we can enjoy editing the photos to get a different result. I say different because the look you are after may change depending on many things. Some of the ‘why edit’ examples are shown in brackets against each numbered item below.

Note that many phones/cameras have preset results and and can also edit the images in the camera later but you don’t have a lot of control over what edits can be achieved later. Having said that, on my first trip to New Zealand I just tried a few presets in my DSLR camera and was mostly happy with the result.

To make an easy start, I suggest that you look at a short list of six important edits that can give you some great results and not the 100’s that are possible. These edits are well accepted in the photographic industry and ‘if not overdone’ can bring about well accepted results.  If you are like me you can get lost in all the settings and end up with some very unusual photos.
Having said that don’t be afraid to try the many other good edits that can be done, but when confused, come back to your original image and use the short list below.
As with any photo editing software always “Save As” and make a new copy when you have finished your edits. Don’t  save over your original photos.

  1. Lighting levels (to overcome very dark and light areas) see the blog
  2. White balance (bring the whites back to white, remove colour shift)
  3. Cropping (zoom on what’s important and straighten)
  4. Contrast (all about the differences within the photo, but generally the luminescence and colour)
  5. Saturation (bring out or decrease the amount of colour in the whole photo or just a few colours)
  6. Sharpness along with noise removal (make it crisp but not to much noise/grainy appearance or glowing edges)

Just so I mention it at this time, there are a few different common image formats that come from cameras that I will talk about in more detail in a later post but here is a quick explanation:

  1. jpeg images (file extension is usually .jpg). They are the most common and are what most phones produce and is usually the default for other cameras as well. These files are compact and ready for general distribution but there are some limits for editing.
  2. RAW images (file extensions such as .cr2 for canon and .nef for Nikon). These files are larger and carry more photo information and nearly always need processing but have more editing flexibility. The original RAW image is always preserved so you can go back to it if needed and create a new edited version. Your editing software can keep a copy of the instructions about what you have changed as well. This means that after processing and ‘saving’/’saving as’ (say JPG) you separately have the original RAW image, the editing changes instruction set and the newly saved image copy.

Nearly all photo software can edit .jpg files and fewer can edit the RAW files however if your camera can produce RAW files it will usually come with some software that can handle the RAW images.

Watch for new articles coming soon about Editing photos in PhotoScape.

To try out some editing you might like see how to install the free PhotoScape software for either Windows or Mac.

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