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Working With Images
Photos, Negatives, & Slides

Editing Your Images to Improve Image Quality

Many people think of "photo editing" as something difficult, but with today's technology, this process is greatly simplified. There are many tools out there that can help us to easily improve the quality of our scanned photos and they don't take that much of our time.
Editing photos can basically fall into two different categories. To view several samples of these, click on the list to the right.

  • Fixing abnormal color tones & lighting
  • Restorative work on creases, tears, missing pieces, etc.

Photos Samples Needing Work

Working With Poor Color Tone Images

This pigments in the original paper, or it could be with a negative or a slide, have degraded over time. There is a reddish color cast to the photo, but I have seen bluish or greenish color casts as well. They make the digital images look awful, but removing color cast is quite easy to do. Typically just one photo editing tool will correct most all of the color cast.

Before Original Image
After Fixed Image

Improve Dark Images

This photo was taken against a brighter background, thus limiting the light on the subject.

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to correct lighting in post-processing with a photo editor.

Before Original Image
After Fixed Image

Working With Overexposed Images

This photo was taken back in 1971 with a Bolsey camera that did not have a light meter. It was all guesswork for camera settings. The photograph is obviously overexposed.

There are a lot of memories associated with this photograph, a street we lived on as missionaries. I used Pixlr, a free online photo editor to correct the lighting in this photograph. I twould have gotten much better quality using my Affinity Photo program or with PhotoShop.

Before Original Image
After Fixed Image

Restoring Images

"Restoring" photographs involves a different set of tools that allow for "healing" and "cloning" damaged areas. These do take a little skill to learn, but there are some tips & tricks that greatly help this process.
The wedding photo below had damage from sitting in a drawer and picking up stains. The damage could easily have been scratches, tears, or other physical damage.

Before Original Image
After Fixed Image

Tips When Working With Photos:

Photoeditors

While there are many different photo editors, the following two are ones I am familiar with. I teach one class on basic editing using PhotoPea.com for those that just want some basics. I also teach Affinity Photo classes and have used it for years after using PhotoShop for much longer.

Sample Images Edited With PhotoPea.com

Working With Images

Photopea.com (Free)
Simple Tone & Lighting Corrections

This app is designed to simplify the user interface and still make fairly good tone corrections for most photographs.

There are other free apps that I have tried. PhotoPad has some pretty good tools, but I found the app very slow to respond to changes. GIMP is an open-source program that has been around for a long time. However, each time I used it, it would crash after making adjustments, thereby losing all my work. Darktable is another open source project that has many qualities like Adobe Lightroom. It has some nice features, but the learning curve is steep, and there are very minimal tutorials available. Google Picasa used to be available and was a simple editor.

As to FREE available photo editors, the choices are minimal. Many give you free trials, and then want a monthly subscription cost of $5+/month. For $10/month, you can subscribe to Adobe PhotoShop AND Lightroom that will have WAY more features, speed, and reliability.

Working With Images

Affinity Photo
Intermediate to Advanced Editing

Affinity Photo is a more advanced level photo editor that has many tools that are associated with Photoshop. The tools respond more quickly and the size of the images you can load can be much larger. This is because it is not hampered by the restrictions of internet speed and browser limitations.

Another advantage in more advanced editors is that you can create "adjustment layers" that can be deleted if you don't like what you see. This is called "non-destructive" editing. Another neat thing about adjustment layers is the ability to "paint" your adjustment onto small parts of the image, and not affect the whole image.

If you are interested in learning how to use Affinity Photo, use the contact button below to set up some time to learn the program.

Image

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Stephen A Meyers
Idaho Falls, Idaho

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NEVER do the editing on an original file. Always FIRST make a copy and then do your editing on the copy. You will look back at your edits at times and think, "I know how to make this photo look better". If you no longer have your original photo, you are editing an already poor quality photo.
This does mean that you are keeping originals, which would also require an organized system in place in order to find them at some point in the future.

Over time, as you open, edit, and save a photo that is saved in a .jpeg or .jpg format, you will tend to lose data with each "save". Try to do all your editing of that photo in one session, then save it, and do not change it. The quality should be fine. If you need to do edits over several sessions, save the file in a TIFF format, until you have completed ALL your edits. If you are really into photography, most pros will have you save your files in a .tiff format. However, TIFF files are generally quite large in size, therefore you will need a lot more storage space to hold them.