a few months ago, i shared 10 tips for better travel photos and today i want to follow up that post with some tips for editing photos. let me let you in on a little secret (which isn't really so secret): i've been editing photos for my blog for the past 4 years and i don't own photoshop. sure, i'd love to use photoshop, but it's expensive, and i've had success using free online photo editing websites. in the past i used and loved picnik, but now that it is gone i primarily use picmonkey and ipiccy for all of my photo editing needs. whether you use fancy editing software, or free editing websites, here are 10 simple tips for editing your photos to make them look great . . .
1. straighten your photos
often i have to snap a picture quickly in order to capture an image before the moment is gone or before the subject moves. i don't always have time to worry about lining things up in my lens to make sure they are perfectly straight. luckily, it doesn't matter because most photo-editing programs have a rotation feature. the very first thing i do before editing my photos is make sure they are straight. you want to make sure that the horizon is actually evenly horizontal and that any buildings, poles, etc, are actually vertical. use the guiding grid lines in the rotation feature to be sure that your photo is properly straightened.
2. crop your images
whether you need to hide something in the picture or you need to create composition, be sure to crop your images. use the crop tool to get close to the action or to cut out anything that you don't want featured in the image.
3. re-size for intended use
what do you intend to do with the photo you are editing? if you plan to print it and frame it, then you should make sure it is the highest quality possible. however, if you are posting it online, it will take longer to load on a web page if the dimensions of the photo are too large. determine the exact size you need and re-size the image accordingly. (ps: for my blog, all photos are 675px wide.)
4. adjust the exposure
it's not always possible to take photos in perfect lighting. if your image is looking a little dark or overly bright, fix the exposure by adjusting the brightness, highlights, shadows, and contrast.
5. enhance the colors
if the coloring of your photo is dull and dingy, adjust the saturation and temperature to boost the wow factor. let those colors pop off your photo!
6. play with black and white
it's really rare that i post black and white photos, but sometimes the coloring in a photo is just too messed up to salvage. that's when i turn to black and white to save the day. bonus: it gives the image a really cool artistic effect.
7. reduce shine
reflective surfaces can cause problems with a flash or bright sunlight. several members of our family wear glasses and practically everyone wears sunglasses in the summer. inevitably, there is always a shiny reflection in someone's glasses. similarly, when photographing food next to a window when it's really sunny outside, sometimes there is a shiny sun streak across the plate. luckily you can reduce the shine in order to dull the shine or to make it disappear all together.
8. remove blemishes
i'm not a fan of retouching and airbrushing to make people look unnatural. however, every once in a while you have a great picture and someone has a blemish, pimple, cut, scratch, etc. sometimes pictures of food have a stray "blemish" too, such as a drip of sauce on the side of the plate or a runaway nut or sprinkle. it's great to be able to make those blemishes disappear and not distract from the rest of the photo.
9. sharpen the final image
i like sharpening my images to make sure they are as crisp and clear as possible. if you need to sharpen an image that is otherwise a little blurry or slightly out of focus, be sure to do it after you have already cropped the image to your desired size. the level of sharpening required will vary depending on the final size of the image.
10. save your edited images, but keep the originals
it's fun to edit photos, but i religiously make sure to keep the unedited originals too. you never know when you will need to go back to the untouched original image.