People often tell me they like my photos, and so I thought I’d let you into my ‘secret’ – it’s all in the editing. Of course, the best way to have pictures is to take good photos in the first place. That means investing in a good camera, learning how to use it properly, finding a good uncluttered background with lots of natural light, never ever using flash unless it is absolutely utterly necessary. If you have a good photo you can basically just stick it online as it is, saving lots and lots of time.
BUT. Sometimes you don’t have a great photo because you left it too late for the ideal lighting conditions, there wasn’t time to get the framing right, or your camera just won’t do what you want it to. Then a good photo editor is your friend.
Here’s an example of a recent outfit pic that wasn’t quite there where I ended up doing a bit of adjusting.
Here’s the photo. As you can see, the framing’s all wrong, there’s a funny shadow on the left, there’s mess all over the floor and the colours are a bit dull (this always happens with green incidentally). So here is what I did, using Photoshop. You can use other photo editing programmes, including free ones, for most of this I think, but Photoshop is the one I use.
Ok then. Step 1. Preliminary cropping via Image/Crop. I just wanted to get the worst of the mess on the floor out of the picture and focus on what this picture was about – me. I left enough space on all sides though for more cropping later on.
Step 2. Upping the contrast via Image/Adjustments/Brightness/Contrast. If I could only edit in one way, this would be it. It’s hugely helpful when you have a lot of bright colours that have ended up a bit washed out, it makes everything clearer and colours brighter without changing them significantly. I very rarely NOT change the contrast on my photos.
At this stage I could also have adjusted the brightness (ie. lightness, though that is something else in Photoshop), but it wasn’t necessary in this case.
Step 3. Adjusting the colour via Image/Adjustments/Selective Color. My main issue was the colour of the sofa, which looks a lot paler than in real life, so I made all reds in the picture more magenta and slightly more yellow. This also made the maroon shades on my clothes more true to life.
Step 4. Adjusting the colours in parts only. If I hadn’t planned on making this How to guide, I probably would have left the colours as they were then, but since I wanted to show the possibilities, I also adjusted the colour of the scarf.
To do this, I selected the area of the scarf only, with the Magnetic Lasso tool on the toolbar, right clicked and selected Layer via Copy. This creates a new layer on top of the original photograph, which you can edit without affecting the rest of the photo. Again using Selective Color, I made all neutrals (i.e. greys) more cyan and more yellow. I’ve found that my camera always makes greens look grey, so adjusting the colour of the neutral is more effective than adjusting the green itself, which hardly makes any difference. The layer is important here, because there are neutrals everywhere and if I had adjusted the neutrals throughout the picture I basically would have ended up giving everything a green tint.
And Finally, Step 5. More cropping. I played around a little bit with various ways of cropping it, and ended up going in quite close, getting rid of the rest of the mess on the floor, and the shadow on the wall.
So there we are, compare and contrast. Better isn’t it?
As I final final step, I added a border with Piknic, the photo editing software that is attached to Flickr. It’s free, and as far as I can see will let you do most of the things I was talking about above, except the layering. Since I’m lucky enough to have Photoshop, I’m not really too knowledgeable about free editing software, but there are plenty out there. Does anyone have any recommendations?
I hope that was useful!