Quickly and Easily Edit Photos
Edited by Yuliya, Eng
Touching up your photos can sometimes take them from nice photos to great ones. You don't need too much skill to quickly and easily edit your photos, and you'd be surprised at what a huge difference a small edit can make.
This guide will get you started by exploring some programs that can help you, and by starting you off on your road to touch-up greatness. You won't learn how to smooth skin or remove red eye here, but you will learn how to make your images really pop.
Getting started: choosing an image editing program
Before you can make your quick edits, you will need to choose which program you want to use. The two most important questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Which device will you be using to edit photos?
- Are you willing to pay for your program?
Once you can answer those questions, you can go on to find the perfect image editing program for you. Below are some ideas and suggestions.
- 1If you mostly take photos on your phone, a mobile app might be all you need. Some great paid programs are: Afterlight ($0.99), BeFunky Photo Editor Pro ($1.99).Mobile, paid.Advertisement
- 2Some of the free apps on the market are just as (if not more) powerful than the paid apps. Some good free apps include: VSCO Cam, Photo Editor by Aviary, Photoshop Touch.Mobile, free.Advertisement
- 3If you can't afford Photoshop Elements or Lightroom at close to $100 a pop (or $9.99 monthly), don't worry - there are other photo editing tools that don't cost quite as much. Easy Paint Tool SAI is a strong package packed into a small and easy to use program, priced at around $44 (prices varied due to exchange rate from Japanese currency). Other options include: Apple Aperture for Macs ($80), Corel PaintShop Pro ($50).Desktop, paid.
- 4Some photo editing programs for computer are free and just as good as their paid alternatives. Among the best are: Paint.net, Fotor, Gimp.Desktop, paid.
- 5Why download anything when you can use some programs right on your browser? The best part is, most browser photo programs are free to use. Some good ones are: Pixlr, Phoenix, Photoshop Express Editor.Browser, free.
Some quick and easy photo editing tricks
You don't need to be a pro photo editor or have an expensive program to touch up your photos. In fact, many programs have an auto-correct option, and sometimes that's all your picture needs. Many times though the automatic correction makes the image over or under saturated, and ruins more than it fixes. When that happens, you're better off making your own manual corrections.
Here are some quick and easy photo editing hacks you can use:
- 1What's the focus of your image? Crop your picture to bring attention to it. Cropping cuts off the edges of your picture, and can be done to help apply focus to the right area, to select a different ratio for the image (like square, for instance), or to take out unnecessary empty space or distracting edge elements.Cropping.Advertisement
- 2These two are often a pair. Brightness makes the image lighter, while contrast makes the difference between light and dark greater. Images that look washed out benefit from higher contrast, while dark images can use more brightness. Many images look great from just a tiny increase in contrast and even smaller increase in brightness (both under 10!). Be careful not to overdo it, or you'll end up with an image that looks overexposed and unnatural.Brightness and Contrast.
- 3Changing the hue makes an images tinted a certain color. Hue is especially useful if indoor lighting or flash made your image look too yellow - simply shift the hue to the cooler side of the color wheel (the blues) until you find a tint that looks more natural. The same is true for the opposite - pictures that have a blue or purple tint can be corrected by moving the hue towards the warmer colors (the yellows).Hue.
- 4Saturation should be used sparingly unless you are going for an unnatural look. This option strengthens your colors, making the yellows more yellow, the reds more red. Usually only a slight increase is what your image needs, or you get overly strong colors which can make things like skin tones look bad (reds especially tend to become oversaturated quickly). Some programs have a "Vibrance" option as well, which is a subtler way to increase saturation and is usually a better choice.Saturation.
- 5Sharpness won't fix a blurry picture, but it can help bring attention to the focus of the image. Overdoing sharpness will give your edges a halo, not a desired outcome. Keep the numbers small when you're dealing with sharpness, and use Unsharp Mask - a form of sharpness - instead if that's an option on your program.Sharpness.
- 6Curves. Not all image editing tools have this option (though many of the desktop applications do). If your program has the ability to edit curves, you can use this tool to achieve hue correction, saturation, and brightness/contrast in one go. It takes a bit of tinkering around with to understand how it works, but a general rule is to drag the upper end (the light colors) slightly up and to the left, and drag the lower end (the shadows) slightly down and to the right. The result should look like a very subtle S shape. This will deepen your shadows and brighten your lighter colors.Slightly more advanced:
Applying filters to your photos
Applying filters to your images is a different process for each program. Many of the browser and mobile apps have built-in filters you can use. Desktop programs may need some more work. Here are some rules of thumb for applying filters:
- 1Vintage looking images mimic old photographs - faded, often purple or yellow in hue - and are currently very popular. They can make your image look nice but over-processed. Try using a subtle vintage filter and you may find it gives your photo more personality.Vintage.Advertisement
- 2Warming filters add a yellow/orange tint to photos and if used sparingly can make pictures of people pop. They're also great for poorly lit or cloudy days.Warming.
- 3Some filters mimic old camera types like Polaroid or Lomo, which each had their own distinct look. You can use these filters to make your photo look like it was taken by an old camera. As with nearly everything else mentioned in this guide, use them sparingly to avoid an over-processed and unnatural look.Old film.Advertisement
Enjoy your photos!
- Photoshop Lightroom on Amazon
- Seth Lemmons https://www.flickr.com/photos/slemmon/4156778415, https://www.flickr.com/photos/slemmon/4135914497
- Tambako the Jaguar Sitting Male Sumatran Tiger, Sitting and Attentive
If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.