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Edit Photos Like a Pro, I Mean a Talented Amateur

I would love to not only take great photos, but to also be able to Photoshop them into excellent photos.  But I know my limitations.  I can’t afford Photoshop, and don’t have the expertise to use it like a pro if I had it.  So I end up using one of several image editing programs, endlessly changing and rechanging settings until I get a muddy mess. 

Today I found a great app that does the work for me.  Check this out:

On the right is my “before” photo, and on the left is the “after” photo.

ScreenShot048

While neither photo will win a prize, the one on the left is sharper, clearer and better lit.  It’s a free solution and I did it in less than a minute!  How?  Read on to find out…

Photoshop Express is a free, online image editing tool that is flash based.  It’s extremely easy to use.  Just sign up for a free account and you’re ready to go.  Once you’re a member, you can begin uploading photos.  Just choose a photo and on the bottom you are presented with several options.

ScreenShot049

Choose Edit Photo and you will then see a toolbar on the left with many image enhancement options. 

ScreenShot050

You’re probably thinking, “Ok, here’s another complex interface with proprietary, confusing controls.”  That’s what I thought too.  But I found out that it’s freakishly simple to use and yields great results.  Let me take you through the process.  I’ll start out with one of my favorite photos from this summer.  My best friend Marc and I were playing Scarface at my wife’s 40th bday:

scarface

As you can see, the image is backlit and fuzzy. 

The first thing I did was choose Auto Correct on the toolbar.  When I use Paint.net it never corrects it properly, and I was expecting complete failure here as well.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was given a choice of 6 corrected photos to choose from.

ScreenShot051

When you mouse-over any of the smaller photos, it shows you the results on the bottom.  The leftmost choice is the original.  I chose the third from the right as the best one.  Next, I chose Exposure and picked the best of the bunch.  Note: you can always return to the original.

Since the photo was backlit, I then chose Fill Light.

ScreenShot052

We’re improving.  But the photo is not sharp, so on to Sharpen.  Sharpen allows you to move a small blue square onto an area that serves as a guide for sharpening.  I chose my friend’s face.

ScreenShot055

I chose the third from the right.  I then chose White Balance.  Let me reiterate, when I use Paint.net, a free and excellent Photoshop imitator, I have no clue what I’m doing.  What are curves, hues, white balance and saturation and what is the proper mix of each?  Check out this next image.

ScreenShot056

As you mouse-over the photos at the top, a text-tip tool tells you how it’s correcting.  The second from the left is auto correct, and the one highlighted in the photo is “Correct for sunlit conditions”.

So are you ready for the before and after photos?  I hope I did ok.  Either way, it’s going to come out better than if I manually attempted this.

When you are done, hit save or save as.  Then hit Download to get it back to your hard-drive.  Ok, here it is:

 

scarface scarface3

The before is on the left and the after is on the right.  I know, I’m no Ansel Adams or Anne Geddes, but at least with Photoshop Express I can improve my photos to a not-horrible level with ease.  My new photo is sharper, not backlit, and has better color.

Photoshop Express is simple to use, albeit a tad slow.  I highly recommend it for everyone but the Photoshop experts.  By the way, we weren’t even drunk yet.

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October 27, 2008 - Posted by | Reviews, Software

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