When I first started taking photos with my 35mm point-and-shoot camera, there weren’t very many options available for altering the photos after the fact. If it was done, it was usually done through a process called retouching using a brunch and paint. This process was extremely time consuming, and required highly skilled artists to finish. This was the era of 35mm film.
However, with the advent of digital photography, the entire landscape has changed. Today, the darkroom has been forgotten in lieu of digital photo manipulation, which is easier and far less time consuming. There are many kinds of manipulation software available today, ranging from amateur to professional grade. There even exist websites that offer these services for a fee.
Editing personal photos with computers or cellphones has become so popular as of late that even young children are learning how you use them. Teenagers are especially adept at this, as they have become involved in social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
For some people, editing images is done simply for fun. It’s a great way to show your creativity, because there are no particular rules to this activity. As a professional photographer, I prefer to use Adobe Photoshop, however some people say that Adobe Lightroom is a little easier to use. There are also plenty of free images editing programs available which when paired with a little knowledge and effort can create some great looking images.
In the earlier days of photography, you really didn’t have the opportunities for a second chance when retouching the image. With digital editing, you can repeatedly manipulate the same images over and over, regardless of if you’ve made a mistake. I personally enjoy the process of image manipulation a great deal. Before working with Adobe Photoshop, I used many different open source imaging softwares like GIMP, Picasa, and Photoshop Express. But if professionalism is what you are going for, I cannot recommend Adobe Photoshop strongly enough. I use it to modify images, but it grants me a degree of subtlety a lot of programs lack. But if needed, you can also create some very dramatic imagery. Below I’ll provide you with some tips to better edit your photos.
Many professional photographers use this to balance contrast, brightness, hue, etc. This is one of the most frequently used tools in Photoshop and is especially suited for underexposed and overexposed images.
To use it click on “image” then click on “adjustment”. You will see many available options in the dropdown menu. Find and click “exposure”, then increase or decrease your brightness by sliding the exposure key to the right if overexposed or left if underexposed, respectively.
Black & white images have their own special charm. A lot of people actually prefer them over color images. You can accomplish this usually by changing your camera’s settings. If you want to change a color image to b&w however, click first on “image” then select “adjustments”. From the dropdown menu, select “Hue and Saturation”. Side the saturation key to the far left to achieve a b&w effect.
This technique is frequently used in photo editing, and can be quite useful. It is achieved in various ways. I personally like to use the “pen tool” to cut an image, but remember that when removing a background accuracy is crucial. Exercise special care when cutting a photo, otherwise you make take off a person’s ear or finger in the process. Background removal is used frequently in commercial photography, specialty product photography, and sometimes in passport photography.
To remove a background, first make a copy of the original layer as you don’t want to destroy the original image. Select the “pen tool” from the tool pallet and follow the outline of the subject or subjects you want to cut around. Make your selection, then select “inverse selection” and press delete.
There are many ways to remove a background, for example you could use use the “magic wand tool”, or you could add what’s called a layer mask and then select the “eraser tool” and erase the background using the “x” key to shift your control. Another option is to use the “color range” option. The last way I know of is using the “background eraser tool”. Selection of a particular method often depends on the type of image and your goal.
Creating hybrid animals is another fun way to use image editing software. Inspired by a sketchbook I had in my youth where I sketched a lot of different animals crossed with one another, I started doing the same with digital manipulation software.
One of my creations is the “Dogpanzee”, which is a cross of a chimpanzee and a dog. It is very intelligent and well behaved. To make it, you first have to collect some dog and chimpanzee images, and then resize these images to 1024×768. Your main objective here is to replace the dog’s head with the head of a chimpanzee’s. To do this you can simply remove the background of the dog’s image and cut around the head using either the “background eraser tool” or by simply using the “pen tool”. If you are using windows, select the dog’s head and press “Ctrl + T” which will activate the “transform tool”. Use this to resize the head to match that of the dog’s. Remember the dog head layer should be on the top. Now, using the “Close Stamp tool”, join the two photo portions so that they just look like a single body. Use right click to select your cloning area. Now, click on the “new fill/adjustment” in the bottom of the layer pallet. Chose “color balance”, then select “midtones” and slide the keys to match the color of the chimpanzee. This will create a layer mask for the image. Then select the “eraser tool” to wash the unwanted color away from the dog’s head. If you can complete this method, you will get a nice “Dogpanzee”.
You can use any two animals to make a hybrid. Just keep in mind that the color of both should be almost the same.
Light Leak Effect
This is a very cool trick that can often happen naturally in analog photography if sunlight reflects into the lens from a different direction. This can create a cloudy or bright layer on the image. The effect can be imitated in digital photography using Adobe Photoshop, although there may be other pieces of software that can offer some of the same effects.
This effect can achieve by choosing “action” in Photoshop. To do this, grab an image and then click on “window”, then click on “action”. Then, click on “new action” which you will find at the bottom of the “action” pallet. After that, click on “add an adjustment” and select ‘curve’. Make some adjustments in “curve” according to your choice. After doing this, go to the “layers” panel and choose “Create a new fill or adjustment layer” which you can find at the bottom of “layer” panel. From the dropdown menu, choose “Gradient”, and a small “Gradient Fill” window will open. Set your angle to “-100”, then choose the gradient “fc2c2c”, and you should be finished. Now, from your layer pallet choose “screen” and your light leaking effect is ready. Furthermore, you can change the color of light by changing the gradient colors. You can also play with the direction of the leaking light by changing the “angle”.
Spot Light Effects
To create a halo around your head or highlight a part of the body, you can use the spotlight effect. Open your photo in Adobe Photoshop, then make a duplicate layer of it by pressing “Ctrl + J”. The, using the “lasso tool”, select the area you want to highlight and right click on it. The, select “feather” while choosing the background color as black. Next, from the select menu choose “inverse”. Next, press “Ctrl + Backspace”, reduce your opacity to 55%, and you’re all set.
To create a neon ring effect around an object, you’ll want to start by making a duplicate layer by pressing “Ctrl + J”. Next, make a circle using the “pen tool”. Now, right click on it and select “stroke path”, selecting a thin brush. The foreground colors should be white. After this, right clock on the duplicate layer and select “blending options”, select “outer glow”, and set “color of glow” to violet. Set your contour to “half round” while slightly increasing your “spread” and “size”, and your neon ring is ready. Use the “eraser tool” to remove whatever parts of the ring you see fit.