With a little image editing, an otherwise underwhelming digital photo can be elevated into something truly striking. However, whether you use Photoshop or one of the dozens of free photo editing apps available, navigating picture editing for the first time can be daunting.
Don’t be discouraged though. With a couple of great free tips to go alongside your great free photo editing software, you’ll soon be creating beautiful images from your digital images.
#1 Optimising sharpness
The first step is to orientate the subject of the photo into the location where it will have the most impact. Once you’ve rotated the image to an appropriate orientation, apply a cropping tool to cut out any extraneous background imagery. Finally, lighten the image using your software’s exposure settings.
The next step is to refine the settings of the panel tones. To achieve this, increase the contrast and lighten the shadows using your software’s tools. Last of all, use the black and white sliders to set the shade and highlight clipping points for the image.
Next, it’s time for some fine detail sharpening. Enlarge the preview to get a zoomed-in view and adjust the sharpening sliders until you achieve the sharpness you desire.
It should be mentioned at this point that many modern cameras perform some of these functions automatically when a picture is captured. However, as with many automated systems, they can sometimes fall short of an optimised result. Therefore, it’s worth looking at the adjustments which are made automatically and experimenting with them to gain the desired image quality.
#2 Selective colour adjustment
Sometimes, when photographing a subject, an otherwise incredible image can be marred by bright colours appearing subdued in the final picture. To address this issue, you need to brighten the colour in the affected area while leaving the remainder of the image unaltered.
As before, we begin by cropping the image to bring the focus more sharply on the photo subject. Once this is done, add contrast, and adjust shades and highlights with the black and white sliders.
Next, find your software’s luminance tab, which is often located in the HSL/colour/grayscale settings. Choose the target adjustment tool from the toolbar and click on the colour in the image that you wish to brighten. You can now selectively adjust the brightness and vibrancy of this colour in isolation.
Finally use the detail settings to adjust the sharpness of the subject. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with these settings and experiment until you get a sharp and vibrant subject, without emphasising the underlying noise of the image.
Please note that each piece of photo editing software is different, with some having more features than others. However, experiment with your software using the general guidance above, and you’ll be well on your way to creating some breathtaking images.
Please let us know in the comments if you have any great photo editing tips you’d like to share – and discover our selection of great and free photo editing software here.
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