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The Basics of Digital Photo Editing


Photo editing has changed a lot since the days of printing photos in the darkroom. Actions that used to take hours of painstaking work can now be done or, more importantly, undone at the click of a mouse. So, if you're just getting started you first want to learn about the basic terminology of digital photography editing software. We've created this quick guide to help you start in the right direction.

Photo Editing Software

There are many, many pieces of software dedicated to photo editing on the market. There is a huge range in price and quality when it comes to digital photo editing software. In the end, you will need to decide what you are willing to spend and what you want to do with it. For this article, we won't talk too much about different bits of software's pluses and minuses, but know that there are options. If you're looking for free editors, you should look at The Gimp or Paint.net or if you want to buy a professional program definitely check out Adobe Photoshop.

Functions of Photo Editing Software

Though editing software can be incredibly complex and allow near-infinite options, there are a few things that you'll want to get a grasp on that will take care of most of the things you're looking for when editing basic photos.

* Cropping: When you crop an image it involves creating a new frame so you can remove the parts of the image you don't want. Anything inside the frame will be kept, anything outside will be trashed. One important thing to remember about cropping is that it changes the final dimensions of your photographs, so if you're planning on printing them make sure you crop with the same aspect ratio (width to height).

* Contrast: Contrast impacts how much the colors or tones stand out from one another. By adding contrast, the darks will get darker and the lights will get lighter, but if you remove contrast your image will turn into a gray mess. Higher contrasts can make for interesting imagery, but will also make the grain of your photos stand out more.

* Brightness: Brightness refers to the level of lighting of the entire picture. If you've taken a picture that turned out too dark, turning up the brightness may help some of the details stand out. If you raise the brightness and the contrast together, little by little, you may be able to salvage an image that previously seemed ruined.

* Photo Saturation: Saturation refers to the intensity and depth of the colors in your picture. In a color image, if you completely remove the saturation the image will turn to black and white. If you amp it up, your colors will quickly begin to look unnatural and super-bright.

* The Hue: Hue impacts the tone of an image. If you change the hue, your picture will change from a green or blue tint to purple, red or any other possible color. Although it takes a little time to get used to, changing the hue can make a big improvement to images taken under fluorescent light.

* Transforming Your Photo: Though presented differently in each software suite, they all have some way for you to flip, rotate, or resize your images. Hopefully you won't have to make too many adjustments of this nature, but should an image turn out slightly crooked it's good to know you have alternatives.

Regardless of which photo editing software you use, you should be able to adjust all of the elements mentioned above so you can get your photos exactly how you want them. One way to add depth and bring out the picture's color is to decrease the saturation amount while increasing the contrast. Otherwise, do your best not to rely on editing and try to get all of the work done in the camera. Editing is a tool, but it's always better if you start with the best possible image and make it better, as opposed to trying to salvage an awful shot.

 


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