Tuesday, October 9, 2012

As Promised

Welcome back to my blog!

I do want to apologize for my extended absence. But I'm back now.

In my last post I promised you all a full rundown of my first photo transformation, so without further ado here it is:

Taking the Picture:

While walking down a path I decided that if I'm going to start shooting nature/outdoor scenes, then I should start with something very basic: some trees. So I pulled out my handy cell phone and snapped this right away.

BE PATIENT when taking pictures.

With my not-so-smart camera phone, this was probably the best picture I was going to get unfortunately. One thing to keep in mind, which was something I did not do when I took this picture, is to take WAY MORE than just a few pictures. When you think you took enough, you probably should aim to take just a few more. So make sure you take some time out of your day to take your pictures and try them from different angles. This way you have more perspectives to look through and more opportunities for different editing techniques for each photo.

The Photo Editor:

For the time being I will be using Adobe Photoshop Express Editor on photoshop.com.

  • This online service is an excellent user-friendly tool for those of all levels.
  • There are many options to enhance your photo and also add components, such as text or frames, to give it a customized touch.
  • Even if you are new to the photo editing, when you hover your mouse over the features it tells you what changes it can do to your photo.
  • When you click one of the edit or decorate features, it generates a scale of possible appearance changes including your original image from the last edits.
  • It is free, fast, free, convenient and most of all FREE.

  • Express means just that-you get the simpler elements for editing and quick fixes.
  • There are less features than the software-based version. But hey, it is free right?

Now for Editing:

Time to bring out your creative side. Although photo editing is a fun experience, remember that what you want to communicate in each photo begins with your RAS before you even take the photo.

And remember that this is a very tedious process, especially if you're a beginner, but just know that patience is the first and most important tool you need to begin.

Ok, here is what I did:

I already have an account with Photoshop.com (there's a quick and simple registration) so I just opened Photoshop Express Editor and uploaded my picture.

Because this was my very first edit, I started off by just testing the waters and doing some basic exploring of some of the features.

1) Exposure: I observed across many photography communities citing exposure as an important feature to enhance photos, so I decided to see what it does. Basically this tool allows you to balance the lighting from the photo so that, depending on how you want your photo to turn out, it doesn't look too dark and not too bright either. Don't leave anyone in the dark, literally.

The exposure scale has both positive and negative adjustments. For my photo I adjusted the exposure to the left of the original by -36.62.

Exposure: Make it brighter or darker

2) Saturation: This feature is used to make dull colors and tones look more vivid and well, alive.

The saturation scale also has positive and negative adjustments, and in my case I adjusted it positively from the original by 78.94. This definitely made my boring ol' trees look a little more festive.

Saturation: Dial colors up or down

3) White Balance: We all need to have some balance in our lives and also in our photos. Imagine the weather and your camera's lighting settings at war. But Mother Nature is a force to reckon with, so unless you have really smart camera lighting settings, the actual light captured in an outdoor photo may be a bit distorted from reality.

White Balance: Correct the lighting condition set by your camera

In Express Editor there are lighting conditions already set for you. For example, sunny conditions, cloudy weather, flash lighting, or auto-detect is available to choose. We are so spoiled!

In this particular photo I remember it was somewhat of a cloudy day when I took the picture, so I chose to correct the lighting based on those conditions.

4) Highlight: In my opinion, this feature is somewhat similar to the exposure tool, but the difference is while adjusting the exposure brightens shadows/dark areas, highlighting brings out the detail from those areas.

Highlighting too, has positive and negative adjustments, and for my photo I decreased the brightness detail by -4.34.

Highlight: Change the brightness of the brightest part of your photo

5) Sharpen: Lastly, the sharpen feature accentuates the detail throughout the entire image. So if you notice your image happens to be slightly blurry, then this is the tool to help clear it up. The linked video helps explain the usage of the sharpening tool and shows its significance for a different photo.

Notice the sharpen option only increases positively. That is for good reason because otherwise a negative adjustment would make images less defined and blurry. For my photo I sharpened it to 50.00.

Sharpen: See the detail better

All Done!

Helpful Tips:
  • I find it is best to upload JPEG images not only because it is one of the only supported files, but because they appear in higher quality.
  • If at any point you want to compare your current image to the original (or if you're feeling super proud of yourself for your progress so far), click and hold the "View Original" button. This will come in handy when you are doing specific photo edits and want to refer back to see if you're achieving your goal.
  • When using all features, try to stay balanced in adjustments. Avoid adjusting too little or too much so that images don't appear fake or diminish their realistic appeal. 
  • Don't be afraid to mess up on purpose. This is one way to learn the purpose of different features and see how much you can really do with your photos. 
  • Although Express Editor does simplify photo editing and does a lot of the work, avoid the using the auto-correct features because experimenting in this process is part of the fun.
  • Don't press Done until you're completely finished editing.

Remember when it's all said and done, there's more than what meets the eye...


  1. This is a fantastic blog. Although it is very lengthy, it's worth the read as it goes in depth into the photo editing process, while simplifying the information into layman's terms. Most photo editing blogs are all technical details, and are written as if the reader was already an expert in the field. I also like how you posted images to go along with the details in the walk through. Very informative, and that's all one could ask for really.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad that you enjoyed reading. I really don't like reading extremely technical articles or blogs either, so I wouldn't want to overburden anyone that way.

  2. "Experimenting is pert of the fun", I think you have it nailed right there. I'm looking forward to your progression in photography. Your approach is great, I like that you are keeping it simple and just enjoying it. You can get wrapped up pretty quick in all sorts of artsy-fartsy BS. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you very much! And I'm guilty of getting wrapped up with editing because it's sometimes mind-blowing! There's so many options and it's fun to explore, but clear and concise is the way to go on my blog lol.

  3. Nicely explained ! It's easy to follow. I would love to try it out. Keep it up

    1. Thank you very much! You should try it out and let me know how it goes.

  4. This all seems easy enough to do thanks to your detailed descriptions. Pictures helped a lot too, but it really helped me notice the difference that editing photos makes after I looked at your end product.