Despite having a great camera every photo you see on my blog has been tweaked in some way. And if you look around the online world this basic photo editing is the norm for most bloggers and photographers. In the past these adjustments would have been done in the darkroom with filters or papers or light. In these days with digital media its done in software programs.
While Photoshop is an amazing photo editing program and I use it quite a lot, I use iPhoto (which comes basic on the Mac) for most of my general editing. It has great, simple tools which mean I can adjust and crop my pics in a few seconds and best of all I don't have to export the photos from their home in iPhoto.
If you're not on a Mac then Picasa is a free downloadable program for the PC or Picnik is a free online program that gives some amazing effects. (If anyone else who is on a PC has other suggestions I'd love it if you left them in the comments.)
I won't go through my tweaks at length. Its sort of like an eye test if you've ever had one, I just keep fiddling till the image looks right! And if it goes wrong you can always revert to the original and start again. The screenshot above shows an example of some of the standard changes I make to pics. For a start I nearly always lighten them. I move the exposure button to the right and bring the top level slider down to the left to line up with the highest peaks. Its amazing how this simple adjustment can improve pictures.
Then I fiddle with the tints and temperature to try and replicate the colours I'm seeing in real life. I find most cameras give a bit of a blue or greyish cast to photos and I see a lot of dark, slightly blue photos online which could be much improved with these subtle changes. I've included the original of this photo below the adjusted one to show you how it has improved with tweaking. It was a grey day when I took it and you can see its quite dark.
If you are shooting blog pics make sure you always turn off the flash. It gives a harsh light and artificial colour to your photos that is hard to remove in editing. If you are shooting inside find a bright spot in your house to set up, out of direct sun (I use my kitchen bench!) and shoot without the flash but brighten the pictures at editing and fix the colours there so your whites are white. Get as close as possible when taking the photo and make sure your focus is sharp.
I try to crop in the camera as much as possible. That way you keep the highest resolution that you can. But I do crop most of my blog photos in editing to a standard 5 x 7 format in iPhoto. I like the look of that format and I think having a standard shape makes the pictures sit together well. See the improvement in the photo above. One exception is if I'm cropping square, I love the look of that too but its not practical for all images.
Some photographers have standardised their Photoshop tweaks into a set of automated adjustments that are known as actions. They apply these depending on which effect they want, often with beautiful results. You can recognise many of these as those great retro effects or pastelly tints. I'll save actions for another post and point you to some free downloads so you can play with them too.
Anyway, that's it for today, but I've got one more instalment to come - about photo posting, how to put your photos online and looking their best.
I'd love people to share hints, info, questions or how you do it. I'm no expert and I'm just hoping to share what I do. Oh, and my email button is working again now too!