by Joe Zapert
Why edit images?
We almost always need to spend some energy editing photos after they come out of the camera. The improvements can be drastic.
Even illustrations, previously-edited images, and professional imagery can benefit because our goal in using the image may be different from the original.
Just like a piece of written work, digital images need edits and revisions. Create multiple versions of your work and select the best one.
image editing can:
- re-compose photos to add new focal points, add tension & interest, draw the eye
- correct for imperfections (in the subject, environment, in the capture equipment)
- add to or alter the content of an image to communicate something different
- doesn’t necessarily detract from the “authenticity” or “integrity” of a photo
- The boundaries of the image almost always need to be changed.
- What is the point of interest in the photo? Consider cropping far in to the interest point.
- Are the elements that are extraneous or that detract from the message/focal point? Consider cropping them out.
- Improve the tension of the photo using the “rule of thirds.“
- Would the image benefit from rotation?
2. Exposure & Color Balance
- In Photoshop, adjust the Levels (sometimes called “histogram”) to eliminate blank areas to the left and right of the graph.
- In levels, try setting the white point, black point, and maybe the grey point (using the eyedroppers in the Levels tool).
- In levels, try “Auto.“
- In amateur tools, experiment with fixes like: “Auto-Correct”,”Exposure”, “White Balance”, “Highlight/Shadow.”
3. Defects and Distractions
- Look for defects like scratches, dust, lens flares, even skin problems.
- Consider using tools to remove distracting elements when possible
- In Photoshop, use Spot Healing Brush. In amateur tools, try “Touch Up”
- Achieve “effects” using the extreme settings of correction tools. Experiment and combine the tools (don’t forget to save an effects-less version first).
- Consider trying to “pop” the foreground by applying effects only to the background. (use the Lasso tool).
- Usually avoid tools actually labeled “effects” — the results are rarely good.
- Where does your image belong in relationship to the rest of your content (e.g. article)?
- What is the best way to place multiple images in relationship to the others?
- Usually be sure images don’t interrupt the flow of writing. Wrap text.
- Take care that images don’t overlap or stair-step (unless it’s a desired effect).
- Photoshop.com (simple, elegant editing and photo management)
- Picnik.com (editing with more advanced options)
- Pixlr.com (very advanced, like Photoshop application. Few ‘express’ tools.)