Are you guilty of going * UGH * at an image and deleting it before you give the photograph a chance to shine? It’s badly framed, too dark, a failure I need to delete it!
Wait! Take your hand off the delete button for a moment, and let’s talk about the things you can do to make your photos shine.
Believe it or not, digitally enhanced photos are the norm from professionals to the most humble amateur. Many experienced photographers do a lot with their camera settings then they take photographs, then they will change or improve a photograph in post-production.
Digitally enhanced? Does that sound a fancy word? It’s just the apps that make your pictures look professional. The software can be Affinity Photo, Photoshop Elements, GIMP – best free photo editor online, or one of the other great programs.
Improving Jet’s Photo
Let me show you how a few simple adjustments can make you thankful you didn’t discard an image while we join Brian’s hop.
This is a cute Jet being cradled in the arms of a visiting student at the cat cafe. The first image has a small cat wrongly position and lost in the middle of the photograph. There is so much untidy background it takes away attention from Jet.
Now, look at the adjusted photograph. I have cropped out the background so that attention is focused on Jet himself and gently increased the exposure a very small amount.
I have also used the ‘dodge’ tool I wrote about here. I cannot lighten the deep shadows but I have been able to brighten his eye and fur where the light catches it making him easier to see.
The image is so cute that, even if it’s less than perfect, it is irresistible!
Recovering a Black Cat Portrait
This is Jet, again. He is perched above head height and I am aiming my camera upwards. You can see the edge of the window bed and a lot of distracting background. I know the pose is good and there is enough light to show his gorgeous fur. What can I do?
Now check the adjusted image below.
I have cropped the background to a neat square, which is great for Instagram, and Jet now fills the frame. I have tried to dim the bright light in front of him using the ‘burn’ tool.
If you want to reduce the bright light behind a subject I recommend doing it in small increments, slowly and gradually. It will take patience and care. I also recommend the Ctrl/Cmd + option to zoom in for close adjustments.
- The end result will be your digitally enhanced photos will catch the eye, and be appreciated a lot more.
The End of the (Cat) Tail
This picture was taken pointing straight down at the floor. I was aiming just for the tail and I captured bum fur too.You can see the cat, and you can also see bits of fluff on the rug. This is not the look I am aiming for so what can I do?
I have an idea in mind for the photograph so I began to edit immediately The first step, you guessed, is to crop out the edge of the cat, sorry Jet!
Then I used a tool I have not mentioned on the blog yet, the clone tool. Every photo editor has one – it’s often a stylised rubber stamp. Check where your own version of it might be in your sidebar.
The clone tool …… is used in digital image editing to replace information for one part of a picture with information from another part. In other image editing software, its equivalent is sometimes called a stamp tool or a clone brush.Wikipedia
The clone tool allowed me to tidy up the distracting bits of fluff lying on the textured carpet. It is a very small adjustment but improves the overall look of the picture by making it tidier and visually more pleasing.
So, before you despair at the poor quality of an image you have downloaded to your photo program. Review these options, The adjustments can be small and simple and make a big difference.
- Can I improve by cropping out a busy background?
- Can I increase/decrease the exposure?
- Can I use dodge or burn to tone down an extreme area of my photograph?
- Can I clone out fluff or a small distracting mark?
Do you feel you can try and adjust some of your own photographs? Let me know what you get up to!