Every now and then it’s not a bad idea to get back to the basics of photo editing, partly because sometimes we simply forget those basic tips and a little reminder doesn’t hurt. A photo may seem ho-hum but with a little editing, it can have a little extra sizzle and pop. No matter which photo editing software you use, there are some basic features in editing your photos. (Photoshop Elements 10 has been used for display purposes below.)
Saturation refers to the vividness of the colors in your photo. Many digital cameras allow you to control the saturation of your photos on your camera through the camera’s settings. You can do the same, and with much more control, in your editing software. When you reduce the saturation, your photo will appear more muted. If you slide the bar all the way to the left, you’ll have a grayscale photo. On the other end of the spectrum, by pushing the bar to the right, you’ll have a photo with much more vivid and bold colors.
To play with the saturation in Photoshop Elements, select Enhance from your upper tool bar. Scroll down to Adjust Color and select Adjust Hue/Saturation. Play around with the sliding scale until you like what you see.
Color balance refers to the color temperature of your photo. Warm balance brings out reds and yellows while a cooler color balance with bring out the blues and greens. This is especially helpful if you want to alter the overall color balance of your photo or if you want to bring skin colors closer to their true color. Different kinds of lighting affect the color temperature of your photos. A photo taken in an auditorium might look very golden in color while a photo taken in the fluorescent lighting of a classroom might look quite blue or green.
In Photoshop Elements, go to Filter on your top menu bar. Select Adjustments and scroll down to select Photo Filter. You’ll find a wide variety of filter colors and density of those colors. Play around and experiment.
Brightness and Contrast:
Brightness refers to lightness of your photo and is especially helpful if you’ve over or under exposed a photo. Contrast is about the middle color tones of your photo. A high contrast will polarize the blacks and whites in your photo while a low contrast will make the photo turn “flat” and more gray in color. Contrast is helpful when your photo is slightly blurry and doesn’t have much visual appeal. A little help with contrast can make your photo “pop” or give it a more artistic feel.
In Photoshop Elements, go to Enhance on your upper tool bar, select Adjust Lighting and then scroll down to select Brightness/Contrast. Using the sliding scale you can experiment while you view your photo in the background. Both features will have a sliding bar to manipulate but keep in mind that photos usually look better when you adjust the features in the same direction.
It’s amazing what these features do to change the overall feel or mood of a photo. They can be especially helpful if you have a photo that needs a little tweaking to look just right. Go ahead and give them a try!
(Supplies for the title are from “Candid” by One Little Bird from the Digi Files. Font is Century Gothic and Digs My Hart.)