Digital images captured with our digital camera can be enhanced drastically with some simple software editing. Here I would like to share some basic editing techniques that can be done with most of the photo editing software.
- Adjust the level
This is a tool that can drastically enhance your images with a few clicks. To begin, drag the arrows from both ends until they meet the histogram. This will lighten the white or bright area and darken the shadow. The white arrow on the right is for the highlight while the black arrow on the left is for the shadow. You can also try to bring the arrow further to increase the contrast more if desired and if that bring more punch to the image. Another thing to try out from the level tool is to move the middle arrow left or right to change the mid-tone area.
- Increase the saturation
Another easy to use tool is the saturation adjustment. Simply pull the saturation arrow to the + side or just enter a positive number in the saturation adjustment window. Typically we are adjusting the saturation for all colors but if would like to enhance the saturation for certain color only, instead of applying to the master, you can choose the color from the drop-down menu specifically. For example, you can only enhance the green lawn in the image below.
Some of our photos may not be captured perfectly due to slight out of focus or camera shake. One simple way to rescue it or enhance it is using the sharpening tool in the photo editing software to sharpen it. In photoshop, the first sharpening tool I will try is the unsharp mask. Try to various the amount and radius until you are happy with the result. You can also try the sharpen more tool to further increase the sharpness.
- Reduce noise
Digital camera are equipped with capability to shoot in low light situation nowadays. This is accomplished by increasing the camera’s ISO setting to increase sensor’s sensitivity to light. The downside is it is inevitable to introduce noise to the final image. Unless it is captured with full frame camera where the noise level are exceptionally good nowadays, most camera will produce noticeable noise for ISO 1600 and above. The good news is the photo editing software now are pretty good at reducing the digital noise while maintaining the sharpness and contrast. The example below is the reduce noise filter in photoshop. You can vary the strength and preserve details setting to see the result. If you have not use this feature before, you will be amazed by the good results.
- Remove sensor dust using spot removal
Digital camera especially DSLR where you can switch lens for different purposes or different situation. Over time, the sensor will gather dusts and if you are using small aperture (like F11, F16 or smaller) for better depth of field, likely you will notice some small dots on the captured images. Those small dots and spot are pretty annoying and distracting, however, removing them in photo editing software is very simple. In Lightroom as well as photoshop, there is a spot removal tool, all you need to do is click on the spot and the tool will find neighboring area to sort of clone it for you to remove the spot. When you find that there are too many of these spots in you photos, it is time to do a little bit of cleaning by using the blower to blow away those dusts. If the problem persist, send your camera to professional lab for cleaning.
- Crop your image
Cropping is one of the easier way to improve your photos. Whether you were limited by the lens’ reach or you forget about rules of third while taking the photo in a rush, you can crop it in post-production to improve the composition. In the example below, the captured image is quite dramatic in terms of color and subject but the right side seems to be too empty. By cropping slightly to keep the left 80% and remove the plain sky above, the photo become much more interesting.