Scrapbooking and Photo Editing

The Scrapbooking phenomenon hit the world with a resounding bang, and has taken hold of our imaginations, leaving us forever changed. And where, till a few years ago, we had to work with negatives and spend heaps of money getting photos developed, and then having to throw half the photos away due to red eyes, shadows and other ‘oopses’, we can now thankfully turn to the digital age. Not only can we choose and discard photos at the press of a button (and at no cost I might add), but also fixing and editing those little irritating problems are as easy as loading a photo on the home pc. 

And as any scrapbooker knows, a perfect picture says a thousand words.

There are a host of photo editing software on the market, that can (in various degrees of success), fix anything from red eyes to bad lighting and poor focus. Yet the question remains: which ones are the best?

My personal favourite happens to be Adobe Photoshop Elements. Adobe manages to amaze me more and more every day with the photo editing capabilities that I discover. Everything from simple red-eye reduction to more complicated projects, such as changing backgrounds on a photo and even adding your cute little girl in her favourite pink fairy dress to a magical fairy scene. The options are only limited by your imagination.

Although in all honesty I must admit that this is not a user-friendly program. But on the upside, there are excellent tutorial programs available for this program, and with a little bit of effort, you will have amazing results.

But if you are looking for a program that is a little easier to handle, then I would suggest Corel Paintshop Pro Photo x2. This program combines ease of use with professional power to allow you to take on any project. It also has an integrated learning center and a selection of one-click photo fixing tools to make it quick and easy to fix most flaws on your photos.

Editing Photos for the Rest of Us

Before the digital age, photo editing was an arcane process, only performed by experts. It required exposure to chemicals, expert timing, and a lot of care. Now, however, you can use a computer program to easily produce effects that were a lot of work when 35mm film was the standard. There are a lot of different programs to choose from, for every price range and skill level. This article aims to talk about just a few.

In the arena of free photo imaging software, popular options are GIMP, Serif PhotoPlus, Paint.NET, Pixia, and ImageForge. All of these programs are available to the user legally and free of charge. However, some freeware programs are older or cut-down versions of software that’s available for a price, so they may have limited functionality. Others are fully functional, and released under a GPL, or General Public License.

These programs, like GIMP, are volunteer-coded and supported, so there could be unexpected bugs or strange program behaviors. However, if you want a functional editor to help you modify and improve your digital images, but can’t afford to buy a higher end program, these freeware programs are a great place to start.

In the arena of pay photo imaging software, there’s a wide range – from programs meant to satisfy the home or occasional user, to high-end professional ones like Adobe Photoshop. At a retail price of $649, this is a bit pricier than most individuals can afford. However, Photoshop is well known for being the cutting edge of photo manipulation technology, so if you need its functions, it’s worth the cost.

For the rest of us, there are programs like Photoshop Elements, the scaled down version of Adobe’s premier photoeditor, which retails at a much more affordable $99, PhotoImpact, Digital Image Suite, PhotoPlus, Paintshop Pro, and Picture It! Ranging between around $20 and around $100, all these programs offer digital camera support, can import images from a scanner, and feature important tools. You can use photo imaging software to crop, resize, and rotate your photos, remove red eye, correct over exposure and under exposure, changing lighting and coloration, and even remove or add elements.

There’s a photo imaging program for every user. Whether you’re a professional who needs to work on photos and other images on a daily basis, or just a home user with some snapshots that need work, you’ll have no problem accomplishing what you set out to do. Today, it seems inconceivable that photo imaging used to require so much expertise and so many chemicals. Now, simple photo manipulation is available with just the click of your mouse.

Beginners Guide to Editing Your Photos

Do you have digital images that just don’t look right? Pictures often get faded, or gain a greenish or bluish hue. You can fix these imperfections simply using editing software like PaintShop Pro. After reading these steps, you should be a pro at applying simple editing effects to your own digital images.

1- Lets get your settings in place. Once you have opened up Paint Shop, you will see a gray bar that spans the width of your software window (under the choices for ‘File’, ‘Edit’, etc). Right click on this gray bar and scroll down to the option “Toolbars”. To the left of “Toolbars” will be choices for which tools you want to have open in that gray space. Click on “photo”, and those editing options should appear. To find out what each icon in the toolbar does, just hover your mouse over the icon.

2- Make sure your image is rotated correctly! It’s really hard to edit a photo when you don’t have the right perspective on what it is. The easiest way to do this is to open the image that needs to be rotated. On your top tool bar you will find three icons in a row containing blue and white shapes, with arrows directing which way they are being rotated. These are your rotation tools. Just click on the direction that your image needs to be rotated. You will keep your image open for the rest of the editing process.

3- Next, let’s take a look at your contrast/brightness. No one wants a photo that looks faded or soft. To make you images look more crisp, you will want to adjust the Contrast/Brightness of your photo. The Contrast/Brightness tool takes the blacks and whites in your images and enhances them. The icon is of a triangle, where the top is a light blue, and the bottom of it is black. Click on the icon, and a window will pop up requiring you to fill in numbers for both the contrast level, and the brightness level. If your image is really dark, start out by setting your levels both to 10, then press ‘OK’. Repeat until you get your desired results. If the brightness of your picture is fine, but you just want it to look a little more crisp, set your contrast number to 10, and your brightness number to 0. Again, you will want to press ‘OK’ and repeat until you attain your desired results. To preview what your effects are going to look like, just press the icon that looks like an eye, which is in the ‘Contast/Brightness’ window. If you like what you see, press ‘OK’. If you don’t like the selections you’ve made, simply press the eye again, which will hide the preview, and re-configure your settings.

4- Now we are going to focus on color. There are several ways to adjust the color on your images, but this technique is a manual tool where you can choose exactly what you want to be applied to your picture. The ‘Adjust Color Balance’ tool is a triangle that is light blue on top, and black on bottom, with a halo containing red and blue squares on the tip of the triangle. Click on this icon, and a window will pop up. Set your ‘Tone Balance’ to ‘Midtones’, and check the box beneath to ‘Preserve luminance’. You will find that there are three scroll lines to adjust the color. You can either manually enter numbers in the white boxes, or you can manually move the cursor left or right to select how much you want to adjust a certain color. For instance, if your image has taken on a reddish hue, you will move the cursor between the choices ‘cyan’ and ‘red’ to the left, towards ‘cyan’. This will add more cyan hues to your image, decreasing the amount of red that appears. A lot of color balancing is trial and error. To preview what your effects are going to look like, just press the icon that looks like an eye, which is in the ‘Adjust Color Balance’ window. If you like what you see, press ‘OK’. If you don’t like the selections you’ve made, simply press the eye again, which will hide the preview, and re-configure your settings.

Now your image looks as good as new. Have scratches, wrinkles, or writing on your images? You will need to use the ‘cloning’ tool to fix this, which is a whole other ball game! Check out tutorials on using the clone tool in PaintShop to make your editing skills complete.