Disclaimer: I’m going to use one photo to show the slight differences of the three softwares. So pardon me if you keep seeing the same shot of my daughter’s face. Hehe!
Let’s face it. We may have the latest camera phone, pocket cam or DSLR but most of us are no professional who can manually manoever the camera and always come up with perfectly lit and color balanced picture. I bet your DSLR is always on Auto-mode because mine is, except when I’m taking product shots. The perfect moment to capture is right there so I wouldn’t risk missing it just so I can take my time manually setting my cam. Good thing there are editing softwares available so we can make our photos look almost professional. Forget over-the-top filters! Hehe!
Whenever I edit my personal photos, I usually adjust only three things: the exposure, brightness and contrast and color balance. Adjusting the color isn’t always necessary though. Just in cases when the image looks like it has too much red/pink, yellow, blue, etc. Don’t get too intimidated. Editing is actually easier than you think…
EDITING WITH iPHOTO
If you’re a Mac user, your computer has built-in iLife which includes iPhoto. It’s a great software for filing and grouping pictures as well as image editing.
I took Kenya’s picture using my Canon EOS-1100D (yeah, I know, very entry level cam, that’s all I can afford. But this proves that you don’t need high end cam to have nice looking pictures.) It was taken at the beach, around 11:45 am using my camera’s portrait mode. Notice that the picture is very pinkish all over and lacks proper highlights and shadows.
When using iPhoto, your first option is to: edit>quick fixes>enhance. But sometimes, clicking enhance will only make your image darker like my photo. So the next option is to manually adjust your image.
First, adjust the exposure, contrast and saturation by moving the slider to the right. I cannot give the exact value since images are different. You have to trust your eyes for the right setting. Do not uncheck “Avoid saturating skin tones” if you don’t want your portrait to have grayish skin.
Kenya was sitting on a white, plastic beach lounge chair. Notice that the chair still looks pinkish after already adjusting the exposure, contrast and saturation. Let’s minimize the pink in the picture by adjusting the levels.
Move the middle slider to left a bit until the pink on the white chair is gone. And that’s it!
EDITING WITH PHOTOSHOP
If you have Photoshop, this is how easily you can do it in four steps.
1.) Image>Auto Tone.
2. Image>Adjustment>Curves Enhance the image highlight by clicking a point on the diagonal line on the third column, second row. Without letting go of the button of your mouse, drag the point a bit upward (see orange dot). Enhance the shadow then by clicking a point on the same diagonal line on the second column, third row. Without letting go of the button of your mouse, drag the point a bit downward (see orange dot). You can experiment on this part a bit until you get your desired effect.
3. Image>Adjustment>Brightness and Contrast. Move both slider to the right until you get your desired effect.
4. Image>Adjustment>Color Balance. Move the top slider (Cyan/Red) a bit to the left to minimize the pinkish cast on the picture.
EDITING WITH PIXLR EDITOR
If you have neither iPhoto or Photoshop, don’t worry, you can always use Pixlr.com. I love it since it’s accessible to everyone and is almost as powerful as Photoshop when it comes to image editing.
First, choose PIXLR Editor and upload/choose the photo you would like to edit.
Then adjust the curves (adjustment>curves) like you would in Photoshop. You can adjust the Brightness & Contrast after adjusting the curves if you like. But I adjusted the color balance, getting rid of the excessive pinkish cast first (by moving the Red offset slider to the left). Easy, right?
Here is the result using those three softwares.
Not bad, right?
Again, adjusting the color isn’t always necessary. Adjust it only when you think your image looks like it has too much red/pink, yellow, blue, etc. Most of the time, you can get away by adjusting only the exposure and brightness & contrast since your camera will mostly likely take care of the Auto White Balance (AWB) for you.
You are now probably sick of my daughter’s face. Haha!