Photo editing is an art form all it’s own, with a wide range of tricks and techniques that can take years to master. Software programs are very powerful these days, and the choices for enhancing your photographs is nearly endless. There are also many opinions about how much photo manipulation is too much? Some purists believe the photo should remain as the camera captured it. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who love photoshop for painless plastic surgery. lol! Most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle on that debate.
As digital scrapbookers, there are many easy photo “fixes” that we can use to help us present our pictures in the way that we want them to enhance the stories we tell on our pages. While there are numerous programs, actions, presets, and techniques out there to use for photo editing, I (Katie) thought it would be helpful to cover a few quick and basic photo fixes.
I’m going to use this photo of a cloudy Oregon water scene to demonstrate some common ways to edit a photo in various programs. This picture is SOOC – which stands for “straight out of the camera” in photography speak. This means that there has been no editing done on this photo, it is just as the camera captured it. While it was a gloomy day on the Oregon coast when this picture was taken, it really was much more beautiful than this photo represents. It seems overly dark to me and I would really like to edit it before using it on a layout or sharing it with others.
I’m using the term “photoshop” to refer to both Adobe Photoshop Elements programs and Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite editions. I only have PSE installed on my computer but I will list resources for both types of software. Elements is generally more user-friendly and aimed at the hobbyist consumer. The full Photoshop Creative Suite program is used by professional photographers and artists. It has a higher learning curve, but more powerful editing tools. When you are working in a program that uses layers (like the photoshop products), the most important photo editing tip is to duplicate your original photo on a different layer and then apply the edits. Be sure to save as a new file to preserve the original picture.
The more recent versions of photoshop elements have very user-friendly guides to photo editing. You can choose quick or guided edits and simply use sliders to adjust your photo as desired. So easy!
Using the quick tools in PSE, I edited this photo in about 10 seconds. I didn’t do anything creative here, just used the smart fix auto slider to make the photo look a little nicer.
You can also control your own editing by using adjustment layers and making your own changes. I adjusted the levels, brightness, and hue/saturation for this one. I worked on this photo for about 2 minutes. It ended up being pretty close the easy edit I did above.
What if you want to edit several photos using the same settings? This is where actions can really save you some time. Instead of having to start from scratch on every picture you edit, simply use a loaded action in your program to get the same results every time. Once you get the actions installed (which can be a bit tedious the first few times), it’s as easy as pressing a button to run the action on your photo. This is also a great way to get creative and have some fun! I used Pioneer Woman’s Seventies action for this one.
Great resources and tutorials for photo editing in adobe photoshop programs:
- Photo editing features in Photoshop Elements
- Refine your photos in Photoshop
- Lights, Camera, Actions!
- Pioneer Woman’s free actions for Photoshop
- Pioneer Woman’s free actions for Photoshop Elements
- MCP actions
- Texas Chicks blog and pics
In the develop module, you can use sliders and tools to adjust your photographs.
I worked on tone curve, white balance, and highlights to edit this photo in Lightroom. I have to admit that Lightroom is my favorite program for photo editing!
Lightroom has presets (similar to actions) to use on photographs and they are very easy to install. Lightroom comes loaded with some presets, and there are plenty of extra ones to install as well. Once they are installed, it’s as easy as pressing a button to run the action on your photo. This is also a great way to get creative and have some fun! I used Matt Klowoski’s “City Nights” preset for this.
Great resources and tutorials for photo editing in lightroom:
- Lightroom tutorial and resources
- Organizing in Lightroom with Kayla Lamoreaux
- Paperclipping Digi Show podcast about Lightroom
- Adobe Lightroom
- Lightroom Killer Tips and free presets
Google Picasa is a free photo editing program that has basic edits and some fun effects. There are auto fixes and sliders to make adjustments to your photos.
I had fun with a graduated tint on this one.
Great resources and tutorials for photo editing in Picasa:
- Picasa – a free and useful tool in your digi scrap toolbox
- Picasa getting started guide
- Digital scrapbooking with Picasa
There are many more options for photo editing software out there. Many digi scrappers love using iphoto and Apple Aperture (both are Mac only). There are also programs like Paint Shop Pro, Gimp, and more. You can compare and read reviews on different photo editing software here.
Here are a few more general links to great resources for photo editing information:
- Digital Photography School – post production category
- 25 common photo editing mistakes
- lynda.com (tutorials on a wide range of topics including photo-editing software programs)
- Photography classes listed in our Online Scrapbooking Classes post
What’s your favorite way to edit photos? Do you have any great resources you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear about them!