Master your software, one step at a time
With the ease of use and remarkable effects that digital technology offers, it is no surprise to find an ever-growing segment of photographers turning to digital cameras and photo-editing software with every passing day. While the key elements which converge to create flawless images do remain the same, digital tools do make it a lot easier to correct any blemishes that you may have overlooked when capturing the image while also letting you create marvelous effects with just a handful of tools. but when it comes to the actual process of re-touching your images, your efforts are not just limited to choosing the most appropriate editing software, but also ensuring that you do not spend unnecessary hours toiling over the most basic of functions and lose out on the more elaborate, and also more attractive, ones.
Before you set out to edit your image, always make sure that you have a backup copy of the original with you. That way, even if you do make a complete disaster of the image, you still have the original to get back to, and rework from scratch, if need be. To do this, you first need to open a copy of your image with the editing software, and then click on the ‘Save As’ option, which will copy a replica of the original to a convenient part of your computer. You can begin to experiment with the copy of the image, once you've ensured that the original is intact. Almost every photo-editor encourages you to be as experimental as you can, with the ‘Undo’ option close at hand if you need to erase any changes you've made. Some, more advanced versions even allow you multiple undo options to save only the changes you want to and discard the rest.
Your ease with using your photo-editing software also depends on how comfortable you are with working your way around the image. One of the most basic and most commonly used tools is the ‘Hand Tool’ which is also referred to as the ‘Pan Tool’. As the name suggests, this tool is shaped like a hand, which you can use to maneuver around the image without the fear of altering it. To ensure more accuracy, you can also zoom into your image to make specific changes and then zoom out again to view the overall effect. To do this, you need to use the ‘Magnifying Glass Tool’ which will display a plus sign when magnifying and a minus sign when drawing out of your image. Many types of software will also let you right click on your image to zoom into it in set increments while others are designed to let you left click to zoom in and out.
When zooming into your image, you may also find that it appears blurred and indistinct. However, this is only because the pixels, which make up the image, disperse when you close in and thus separate. This lets you work on minute details on your image and then zoom out again, to view a clearer picture. It also makes it a lot easier on your eyes while saving you the effort of squinting at the computer screen to get a closer look. You can even use the ‘Eyedropper Tool’ to select sets of pixels which are of a particular color, without worrying about missing on even the minutest spot.
Your software will also comprise of what are known as ‘Marquee Tools’ which let you trace squares, circles and even ellipses around the specific parts of the image you wish to highlight. For images which are irregular in shape, you can use the freeform tool by holding your mouse button down as you trace around the image, or simply plot points around it and connect all of them by clicking on the first dot again. Once you've made your selection, the appropriate part of the image will be highlighted by a flowing dotted line, informing you of your selection.
Having mastered these basic functions, you can then progress to more advanced features like creating effects and using enhancement tools to perfect your image. The easiest way to draw focus to the pivotal part of your image is to crop it so that the key elements are highlighted. You can even use filters in various hues to tint your image or paint strokes over it, just as you would with a physical painting using the brush and airbrush alternatives. Your software will also provide you with a diverse color palette to choose from and paint over any minor flaws or blemishes.
How easy or difficult it is for you to use your software all depends on how systematic and well-versed you are with all the options you are granted. The more creative you get the larger number of tools you use This also means that you are conversant with many more features than if you restrict yourself to the conventional stereotypes. And before you know it, you'll be well on your way to creating one-of-a-kind works of exquisite art!
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