As you head back home from that wonderful family vacation, you can't wait to show off those beautiful pictures you took with your new digital camera. But once you get home and you see the photos on your computer, you find that they haven't come out as well as you expected.
Good photographs don't magically come out perfectly when you click the shutter release. In fact, most pictures need a little help. A tad too much background, a tree "growing" out of someone's head, or a tilted horizon line can ruin an otherwise fabulous picture. But that doesn't mean the photograph has to remain that way. Digital imaging software takes all the work out of photo editing. In fact, you can take care of some of the most common picture problems in a matter of minutes.
Often the automatic enhancement features in the image editing program that accompanies your digital camera can bring life to your pictures. But if those automatic tools don't do the trick, here are a few Adobe Photoshop tips that will make fixing those pictures a snap. These tips don't have to be limited to Photoshop. Because many image editing programs are similar, you may find similar tools in the image editing program you use.
Problem: Too much background
Solution: Sometimes, when a picture is taken from far away, details you don't want also appear in the picture. So if you wanted to capture your wife sitting on the couch, but caught the whole hotel room instead, you can chop out the unwanted parts by cropping. To do this, select the Cropping Tool, click and drag over the area of the picture that you want to keep, and select Crop, or press Enter. The downside to this is that cropping will reduce the overall file size, so you may not be able to enlarge the picture too much for printing. This technique is great when it comes to removing certain unwanted elements from around the borders such as hands, sides of faces or halves of objects that don't belong in the picture.
Problem: Unwanted Elements
Solution: If you're focusing on your sweet little girl eating ice-cream, you may not notice the not-so-sweet things around her, like the car parked in the corner, a paper bag lying near her foot, or her little brother's elbow, all of which will all stand out as eye-sores when you finally see it. To get rid of these elements, you can use the cloning tool. What this tool does is that it replaces the part of the picture you don't want by copying other parts of the picture on to it. So if there's a painting on the wall that you want to remove, simply copy a part of the wall over it.
While this tool works well with small objects, be extremely careful when dealing with large structures such as trees or buildings. Unless you match the angle of light, proportions and shadows, you won't get a natural looking effect. To erase elements in a picture, select the Clone tool, and while keeping the Alt key pressed, move your mouse cursor over the area of the image that you'd like to copy. Now click and drag over the area you'd like to remove from the picture, and voila! That portion is replaced by the area you selected earlier. (This tool can take quite a bit of practicing to get right, so save an original copy of your picture before attempting it.)
Solution: This is the most common problem faced by almost every camera user there is. Although newer digital cameras take care of red-eyes automatically, you may want to do something about the dozens of pictures you have already. For this, enlarge your picture using the Zoom In tool and focus on the subject's eyes. Click the Color Replacement tool, which is in the toolbox with the Healing Brush and Patch tool. Now select a brush size from the options bar. (Make sure the size is smaller than the red area.)
Now you need to select a color to replace the red in the eye. Click a color in the front swatch of the toolbox and use the color picker to select a color. Generally black is good for pupils, but consider the lighting when selecting a color. A black pupil may look different in different lighting situations. In the options bar, set the Color Replacement options so that sampling is set to Once and under Limits, click Discontinuous. You also may want to drag the tolerances slider to a low value, so that you don't replace too many pixels and make the eye look unnatural.
Using the Color Replacement tool, you click and drag over the color you want to replace. Increase the tolerance level if you want to remove more shades of red.
Problem: Overexposed Or Underexposed Pictures
Solution: Exposure is the amount of light that your camera captures when taking a picture. When the camera captures too much light, the picture comes out lighter than it should, resulting in an overexposed photograph. On the other hand, when there's not enough light, the picture can be very dark, and this leads to an underexposed picture.
To fix underexposed or overexposed pictures, you can use the automatic contrast function in Photoshop by selecting Adjustments from the Image menu and then clicking Auto Contrast. However, usually, you'll want to pick the brightness and contrast intensity yourself. In order to do so, again, select Adjustments from the Image menu, but this time, select Brightness/Contrast. A window will open up with a slider that you can use to increase or decrease the brightness and contrast of the picture. Check the Preview box, and you'll see the changes occurring in your picture as you move the slider.
Problem: Crooked Photographs
Solution: Often, photographs come out crooked, and objects might seem tilted. You can easily fix this by rotating the image until it looks straight. In fact, you can even do this to a straight image to make it tilted, sometimes leading to very nice dramatic effects.
To do this, select Rotate Canvas from the Image menu. Select whether you want to flip horizontally, vertically or by a specific degree. If you're not quite sure of the degree and would rather move the picture around, you can use an alternative method. Select the entire picture using the Rectangular Marquee tool, right-click on the image and select free transform. Right-click on the image again, and this time select Rotate. Now hold your mouse cursor on any end of the picture and rotate till you've achieved the desired angle.