I’ve never met a digital image that couldn’t be improved with a bit of editing. In my experience, every digital photo needs basic editing such as cropping, resizing, adjusting brightness and/or contrast and sharpening.
Photo processing is not new
Photos have always been processed, whether developing film in your own darkroom or, more likely, taking rolls of film to a professional photo lab.
Photo enthusiasts like me love to edit. However, many digital camera users shy away away from it. Even easy-to-use programs may be too much for some. If you’re one of those individuals but would still like to add some pizazz to your photos, you may have to look no further than your digital camera.
Camera adjustments before a photo is taken
Some editing functions must be selected via a menu before photos are taken, the most common one being the degree of sharpness. Other functions that can be set prior to taking photos include the amount of contrast (difference between the lightest and darkest areas in a photo), saturation (vividness of colors) and changing an image to more subdued colors or monotone. They are applied to all photos until you change the setting.
In-camera editing functions
When an image is viewed in Playback Mode, you can perform basic editing such as rotating, cropping and and reducing an image is size. A camera may even automatically fix red-eye that so often appears when using a flash.
Some digital cameras have more advanced editing functions. They allow you to make colors in a photo more vivid, either overall or individually to blue, red or green. You can convert a digital photo to Black and White, Sepia Tone and a variety of other options.
Blown highlights, dark shadows
A frequent problem when taking photos in bright light is the extreme in contrast. Areas with strong highlights are often blown-out, devoid of any detail. Shadow areas are dark and detail, while present, is obscured. The human eye may see all the detail in a scene but a camera may not.
Some digital cameras, such as my Canon PowerShot s90, try to address the contrast problem by providing a special contrast setting. The s90 has a setting known as i-Contrast that brings out shadow detail without blowing out highlight areas.
i-Contrast, and similar settings found on other brand digital cameras, can be enabled before taking photos. More importantly, i-Contrast can be applied to individual photos in Playback Mode. In fact, the latter is the preferable method since i-Contrast is applied to a copy of the original so the original photo remains unchanged. In Playback Mode, there are four i-Contrast settings Auto, High, Medium and Low.
To edit in-camera or not?
If you have hundreds of photos, in-camera editing can be tedious and time consuming. Using a photo editing program will be a better, more efficient way to go. The CD Rom that comes with a digital camera usually includes basic editing software.
If you haven’t done so already, check your camera manual to see which editing functions it has to offer and how to use them. Adding some extra pizazz to your digital images may only be the press of a few buttons away.