There are several image editing software packages available, and some cameras come with them. You can use these programs to manipulate, crop, combine and print your digital photos. There are no limits to what you can accomplish with this software, from a subtle contrast adjustment to elaborate works of art incorporating multiple images, textures and treatments. A few basic procedures will enhance digital photos and help fix problem areas:
- Once you start editing a digital photo, save the result as a separate file. You always want to have your original image available in an unedited form.
- Adjust contrast and color levels. Giving the contrast setting a nudge can really enhance a photograph and create a more dramatic look. If a photo looks washed out, increasing saturation levels can make the colors more vibrant. In cases where an incorrect white balance on the camera has given the image a colored tint, adjusting the color levels can bring the photo back to a realistic, untinted state. This image was too dark after we took it. But we used Adobe Photoshop, a popular brand of photo editing software, to adjust the brightness and contrast.
- Rotate, crop and matte photos. Photo editing software makes it simple to rotate a photo (90 degrees if you took the picture with the camera turned to the side, or smaller amounts if the horizon is just slightly out of line). You can also easily crop off unwanted portions of a photo, making it possible to recompose a shot long after you took it. Most programs allow you to add a frame around the picture, making a built-in matte.
- Get rid of red-eye. Some programs have a "red-eye removal" function built in. You can also do it manually by selecting the subject's eyes and altering the color balance to reduce redness. More advanced users can change the entire color palette of an image, create a sepia or monochrome image, or make an image black and white.
- Remove unwanted objects. You can use certain tools in a photo-editing program to remove parts of a photo, leaving what appears to be the plain background in its place. Say you've taken a photo of a centuries-old castle, but someone had parked a mini-van in front of it, ruining the mood of the scene. Though it will take some practice, you don't have to be a photo-editing expert to completely remove the van and leave just the castle behind it. With photo editing software you can manipulate images in many different ways, like turning our motorcycle picture into a charcoal sketch.
- Create works of art. Filters and plug-ins included with many programs allow you to change photos into artistic pieces with a few mouse clicks. Change can be drastic or subtle, such as making a photo of your back yard look like a watercolor painted by an Impressionist master, or changing a photo of your motorcycle into a charcoal sketch.
By now you should have a good idea of what to look for in a digital camera and how to use it to get the images that you want. Above all, digital photography should be a fun experience. Feel free to experiment with settings and editing software to create your own works of art.
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