Digital Photography Basics – Types of Photo Editors

For anyone who loves taking pictures, it’s worth while getting acquainted with photo editing software as they can make a big difference with how your pictures turn out. Image editing software to a digital photographer is what the dark room is to a film photographer. The big benefit of photo editing software is that it’s easier to do than setting up a darkroom.

Plus, with photo editing software you can do both standard image editing, such as cropping and adjusting color, and with the right software, you can also try your hand at photo manipulation.

Image editing refers to all changes that are made to a photograph. Photo manipulation refers to what film shutterbugs used to call “trick photography” – switching backgrounds and such. (For some fun examples of photo manipulation, look up the “National Geographic Photo Foolery” page online.)

Before you choose a photo editor, you first want to understand the type of image editing you want to do. In this article, we will highlight the most popular types of photo editing software so you can understand the differences between each of them.

Picasa:

Google’s free photo editor. If you are just starting to learn the digital photography basics, then this will serve you well for a while. It is really designed to be more of an online photo album or photo manager but can also handle basic photo editing. Picasa offers basic editing tools such as retouch, which helps you remove blemishes, scratches, etc. Like most editors it has red eye removal. It also has fun applications like creating screensavers with your photos and integration with Google Earth.

If you’re ready to advance from digital photography basics and do more with your images, consider one of the other photo editors.

Adobe Photoshop Elements:

The market leader in photo editing and manipulation, it’s more user-friendly and less costly (approximately $90) than its big brother, Photoshop CS4. It’s good for the photography enthusiast plus there is a free trial version.

Adobe Photoshop CS4:

This has everything you could possibly need as a professional photographer or graphic artist. It sells for about $700 on their website, but you can find it half that price by some vendors or look for a free trial version.

Paint Shop Pro:

This is a close competitor to Photoshop Elements and also runs about $90. They also offer a 30 day free trial.

The GIMP:

An odd name for such a powerful program, the acronym stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. This photo editor is open source (aka freeware) and continues to improve and has a good community of users if you need help. It is available for Windows (NT4, 2000/XP/Vista), Mac Operating Systems (OS X) and even Unix/Linux platforms. It doesn’t quite have everything that you get with Adobe Photoshop CS4, but it has more than Elements or Paint Shop Pro and is used by some professionals.

No matter what photo editor you have, read through the guide or help sections so you understand what you can do with it. It takes time to learn but you will be impressed with what you can do with your images. For example, here are a just a few of the things you can accomplish (the top 5 even with just Picasa):

  • Crop
  • Resize
  • Lighten or darken shadows, highlights, and midtones
  • Correct Colors
  • Remove blemishes, a stray branch, a logo, or anything else you don’t want in the picture
  • Blur Backgrounds (Photoshop Elements, Paintshop Pro and The GIMP all offer background-blurring applications. Picasa can’t do this.)

You can also create all sorts of special effects with a photo editor. For example you can turn your photo into an impressionistic painting. You can also convert a color picture into a black and white image to better capture the tones and highlights. Or for a more vintage or antique look, you can choose sepia.

Even if you don’t care about special effects, learning the basics of even the most basic photo editor will allow you to fix mistakes made in photographing. Just cropping alone can do wonders if you couldn’t get a close enough shot or you’ve got too much clutter in the picture. That is why photo editing is an important part of learning the digital photography basics and why it’s important that you learn it. Before long, you will be editing and producing quality photographs that you will be proud to hang on your wall.

Using Your Digital Photo’s For Increased Pleasure And Profit

There must be millions of digital cameras being used throughout the world. It should be reasonable to assume therefore, that there must be billions of digital images that have been taken. The question is – what happens to them? Or more importantly – what have you done with yours? Every time you take a picture, you take it for a reason. Something attracted you to take it so it has a value to you, and possibly to others as well so why not make better use of them with these simple suggestions.

* Firstly, review your shots and weed out any that are clearly sub -standard. You know the type of things I mean, rivers that appear to flow uphill, severe red eye, lamp posts sticking out of people’s heads, and shots that are too light or too dark and so on.

* If you want to, you can redeem some of these shots by using an imaging-editing programme like Photoshop Elements or Paintshop Pro. You can use one click editing to cure exposure, colour and hue problems. You can easily straighten, crop and resize images and this can be well worth the effort to rescue otherwise decent shots.

In fact, some high-end compacts and digital SLR’s have built in software to allow you to do this in the camera itself!

* Once you have weeded out or rescued your images there are several things you can do with them other than leave them sitting on your computers hard drive – for a start, you can you can easily make a slide show. Oh yes, I hear you say – I have already done that!

OK but have you included music and transitions on it? If you haven’t, you don’t know what you are missing. I guarantee that if you include music to your slide show – it really gives it impact. Transition controls how each new image appears by fading one out before the other or by mixing (a new image combining with the old one for a few seconds before it fades away).

These effects and more can easily be incorporated in your slide show by using the free Windows Movie Maker or similar software. It really is worth the effort and it gives your show a more professional look and feel and much more impact.

* Now let’s suppose you have a few really good shots or even stunning shots amongst your collection and why not? Most of us wind up with lots of reasonable shots and a few stunning sunsets, mountain scenes and unusual shots etc. You can tell which ones are good if you show a slide show to your friends and relatives. All of a sudden, someone will say, “oh that’s a great shot” or “how did you take that” and so on.

When this happens, note these down for sending off to competitions in magazines of for submissions to magazines with a small article describing something of interest that is illustrated by the image. You could also try sending them to photo mags (with full technical details). Photo mags welcome unusual or stunning images and all of these markets pay well for decent material.

* Now over a period of time you will probably have collected a few dozen outstanding images – but I really do mean outstanding! If you have, then you can try sending them to a photo library who will keep your images on file for sale for illustrating books or articles. Once a sale is made, you will be paid a proportion of the sales price with the library keeping a commission. Check the internet for Photo Libraries.

* Quite often, you may wish to Email some of your images to friends or relatives. This can be done quite simply by finding the image and right clicking on it. Now choose “send to” from the drop down menu and then select “email recipient”. This method will automatically compress the file size, making it smaller for easier emailing. It opens a new blank email with the image attached.

* You may also wish to upload your shots to a blog or an online magazine. To do this, look for the uploading instructions on the blog site. These usually include an option to browse or search your computer to find the image you want. The process is quite straightforward usually only involving only a couple of clicks.

* It may seem a bit outdated but why not make some prints that you can put into an album. Somehow, browsing through an album still has a special charm all of its own and is great for sitting in a comfortable armchair on a winter’s night in front of a fire. The modern ink jet printer is quite capable of producing decent prints that you can keep, frame or send to friends and family – so why not give it a go.

Photos on my eBay Auctions: How Do I Add Them?

On another forum I’m involved with, someone’s asked a great question: I want to
sell products on eBay, but I
want to include photographs with my items. How do I do that? What kind of camera
do I need, and what settings should I use?

The first step is to buy a digital camera. You can use a film camera, get the prints
developed and then scan them in, but you can now buy an entry-level digital camera
for the same price as a low-end scanner, and it’s a lot easier to use!

A few example cameras that have a good reputation, from Amazon: A very
inexpensive camera – on sale currently – is the Digital Concepts VGA Camera [http://www.amazon.com/%0D%0Aexec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002ZONQU/ref=nosim] (currently $49), and if you want to
get a known brand, as I’d recommend, then you can’t go wrong with the Fujifilm FinePix 1400 (about $70), the Kodak DC215 (about $60), or the slightly more
expensive
Epson PhotoPC 750Z (about $100).

Getting good results from a digital camera isn’t trivial, however, particularly if you’re
trying to take a picture of a book, statue, CD cover or item of clothing. That’s where
it’s nice to be able to take fifty pictures, download them all to your computer, and
pick the best one of the lot. Unlike film photography, this won’t cost you a nickel.
Just time…

A general tip for taking good product shots is to have lots of light. If
you’re in a room with ceiling lights, turn ’em all on. If you have floor lamps, move
them over and point them directly on the item. In addition, use a neutral color
blanket or sheet as a background for the item: you don’t want to distract potential
buyers with your household clutter. Then hold your camera very, very steady
(consider having it on a chair or, ideally, a tripod) and slowly click the button to take
the shot. If your shots are blurry, try moving back a foot or so and taking another
photograph.

Once you’ve taken a product photograph you like (and don’t be discouraged if it
seems hard. There are professional photographers who specialize in product and
catalog photography and it’s quite an art!) then crop it tightly so that the
photograph is about the product and as little else as possible. If you’re using a
blanket as a background, for example, it should only be visible on the edges of the
photograph. Bidders will appreciate a product photo that reveals a lot of detail
about the product and nothing else.

Finally, within your photo editor (Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, Graphic Converter,
iPhoto, whatever), make sure that the final image resolution is 75dpi, not 300dpi,
then resize the image down to a maximum width of 400 pixels and a maximum
height of 300 pixels: and do it with “keep image proportions” enabled so that you
don’t distort the photo. Save it as a JPEG, not a GIF, since it will keep the
nuances of color much better.

Great. Now you have a photo ready to upload to eBay with your next auction! When
you’re entering the auction information, you’ll get to a step where it offers you the
chance to add a photograph, and that’s what you want to do. Click on “upload
photo” and pick your saved image, then it’ll automatically be sent to the eBay
servers along with your other auction information, and you’ll be well on your way to
becoming a true Powerseller!

When I add photographs to my eBay auctions, I use a rather more expensive
(about $2000) camera setup, a Nikon D100 digital with studio lighting and similar
gear. You can see some of my photographic work at Colorado Portraits.