Make Photo Adjustments
In an ideal world, every photo I capture would be perfect in-camera, but that’s just not the case. (It’s a worthy goal to strive for, however—the less work you have to do to an image later, the better.) Most pictures can benefit from a little tinkering in a few areas. Here are the typical areas I focus on when I want to edit an image. Some of these won’t apply in all cases, or may not be needed at all, depending on the image.
- Recompose. I’m pulling a few concepts under this heading because they each change the boundary of a photo. Cropping is often done to exclude distracting elements at the edges of the frame or to “zoom in” on a subject, but it’s also often used to move a subject away from the center of the image for better visual interest.
- Adjust tone. Several tools affect a photo’s tone: exposure, brightness, contrast, levels, curves, and more, depending on the software. Adjusting tone can usually restore detail to underexposed areas or add definition to a photo that’s a bit washed out.
- Adjust color. Color usually gets edited when adjusting tone, but color-specific adjustments exist that can help photos. Changing the white balance (color temperature) can remove color casts or bring warmth to cloudy scenes, while saturation controls boost or reduce overall color intensity. Some apps also offer a vibrance control, which affects saturation but preserves skin tones (no sense kicking up the saturation if the people in your photo end up looking like Oompa Loompas).
- Make specific fixes. Some photos need isolated adjustments: fixing red-eye, spot-retouching, sharpening, and the like.
- Apply creative presets. Most adjustment apps include preset filters that approximate the looks of other cameras, add borders or “grunge” effects, or evoke aged film stock.