How to Enhance your Digital Photos

Very basic steps to enhance you digital image.

There is no doubt that digital imaging has revolutionized photography. One of the many changes is the ease with which your digital photograph can be manipulated. It has opened up an entire new world of digital design.

Most images taken can benefit from a little post editing. Enhancement of colour, contrast and composition (through cropping) can improve the visual impact of that image dramatically. These steps are very easy to do and take nothing away from the original content.

The most popular software program used for photo manipulation is Adobe Photoshop. I will attempt to explain in simple terms how to improve your photo using levels adjustment, curves, saturation, colour balance and the crop tool. There are many, many more changes that can be made to an image using Photoshop, but I will concentrate on these steps.

The first step is to open your image in Photoshop. Look at it and check the composition. Make sure the subject is where you want it to be with no distractions like someone’s hand or leg or uninteresting and irrelevant objects in the foreground. If possible, use the crop tool from the tool menu on the left side of the screen. It’s simple to use and can be moved to cut out unwanted pieces of image. Be aware though that this will reduce the size of your picture. Keep in mind also the rule of thirds when composing a shot. A lot of the time the picture is enhanced by placing the subject according to this rule rather than having it stuck in the middle of the picture. It is always best though to take your time when taking the shot to make sure the composition is spot on.

When you are happy with the composition, save the image then select Image from the top toolbar. Go to adjustments and then select levels. A histogram will appear on the screen. Things are about right when the black area is spread right across the bottom of the histogram. If there is all black on the left side then it is possible your image is under exposed and very dark. All the black on the right side means that the image may be over exposed and too light. Move the black and the white arrows back and forth until the black area is more evenly spread or until you are happy with the result. You will notice a dramatic improvement or change in your image.

When satisfies, save the image again and go to Image again in the top toolbar, select adjustments the select curves. You will notice a grid with a diagonal line through it. This is an ideal way to adjust the contrast levels within you picture. A slight “S” bend is will darken the dark areas and lighten the light bits to give the picture a bit more impact. Experiment with the settings to achieve the desired result.

Save the image again and, once again, select Image. Go to adjustments then Hue/Saturation. You can make adjustments here to the hue, saturation and lightness. Moving the saturation arrow to the right results in richer, brighter colours, but don’t over do it. This is a simple way to add more colour to your photographs.

Colour balance is a handy adjustment. Follow the same steps as above, but select colour balance after selecting adjustments. There are 3 bars here. The top has Cyan on the left and Red on the right. The middle has Magenta on the left and Green on the right and the third, or bottom one, has Yellow on the left and Blue on the right. Sliding the arrow towards each of these colours will highlight that particular colour within the image. To make an image appear “warmer” slide the top arrow towards Red and the bottom one towards Yellow. Leave the second slider in the middle. For a “cooler” image, slide the top arrow towards Cyan and the bottom towards Blue.

Experiment, that is the key here. Don’t be afraid to play around with the settings and some interesting effects can be produced, even with these very basic steps.