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Using Software to Enhance Photos

By: Natasha Reed - Updated: 13 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Computers Software Packages Edit Digital

Many computers now come with software packages that allow you to edit digital or scanned in images. When buying an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier there may be a good software package that you install on to your computer. Or you may have a popular brand of software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements® Photoshop®, InDesign®, Corel Paint Shop Pro® and Microsoft Digital Image Pro® – there are too many to list here.

However all these different types of software have essentially the same functions which allow you to do the basic things like crop, enlarge, reduce, rotate and adjust colours. The more powerful software package you have the more functions it will have and you will be able to perform more sophisticated actions on your photos. Professional software costs a lot of money but if you already have it and if you are seriously in to digital photography and work a lot on your computer you might consider using a tablet and a digital pen instead of a mouse. This gives you more control than a mouse for more detailed retouching of images.

Restoration
Computer software allows you to rescue old or damaged photos. Scan the original photo in and then work on the digital copy. A tear or damaged area in a photo can be removed by ‘cloning’ other areas of the photograph. Colours can be enhanced and, whilst the original photo isn’t restored, the digital copy can be printed out and used. If you are not familiar with these techniques and do not have the software then you could take it to a professional.

Basic Techniques
Zoom
This is a feature which usually resembles a small magnifying glass. Clicking on this will enable you to zoom in on your image to see tiny elements magnified. You can also zoom out to see the bigger picture.

Crop
To ‘crop’ an image we mean to select an area which is to be kept and then discard the other areas. This allows you to remove any unwanted parts of photos and focus on the main subject of the photo. To crop you will need to select the ‘crop tool’ and then, with the mouse, drag the curser over the area you want to keep. When you release the mouse button the dashed lines (marching ants) show you what you have selected. Then you can still change the size of this selected area by using the ‘handles’ at the corners and sides. Once you are happy with the selection you can copy the area.

Resize
With software you can determine the exact size of the image you want using centimetres or inches. You may wish to keep to the standard 6in x 4in photo dimensions but it is more interesting to have images of differing sizes on a page. However if the photo has a lot of detail on don’t reduce the size too much.

Reshape
You can also change a rectangular image to a square or take it further to a circle, oval or any shape!

Image Resolution
Image resolution is measured in ‘PPI’ or pixels per inch. A low resolution image with a low ppi will become pixelated. The higher the ppi then the sharper the image but also the larger the file size. PPI is also referred to as DPI, which means dots per inch.

Adjust Contrast and Colour Balance
If the image is too dark or too light you can adjust the contrast to correct it. If one colour in a picture is too dominant then you can adjust it by playing around with the colour mix – you will need to know how colours work together but by experimenting you can achieve what you want.

Rotate
You can rotate an image 90 degrees clockwise or 90 degrees counter clockwise.

Red Eye
When photographing with a flash the light travels to the person’s eye and then back to the camera, reflecting the red blood cells in the eye. Some cameras have a red eye reduction feature which can be used to prevent this occurring. If red eye is on your photos then use computer software to remove it.

Other Features
There are too many ways of enhancing photos to list here but you might consider:
  • Adding a speech bubble and words direct to the photo
  • Adding a date or title onto the photos
  • A slightly blurred photo can be sharpened
  • Remove or change a background in a photo – is there something on the background you didn’t notice? Then blur it out or add something nicer over the top.
  • Use the drawing tool to draw on a fake moustache, funny hat or fake glasses!
  • Add a filter if you have it in your software such as brush strokes and have fun playing around with filters!

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