How to Edit Photos - Things Often Not Known

See our digital photography tips : DOs and Don'tsChoosing a Digital Camera and Accessories , Taking Digital Photos, and Downloading Digital Photos.

 

Editing digital camera photos

  • Before you begin to edit, make sure there is a copy of the original somewhere. Just assume you will destroy the prized photo you are working on. Strange things happen, and Oooops might be the nicest thing you could possibly say.

  • If you are going to do any editing and perhaps save the file again (and again), remember that each time causes a recompression and significant quality loss in JPG files. You can avoid this by keeping the file in TIFF or RAW until you are done.   If you start in JPG, convert to TIFF before editing, then back to JPG, when done.

  • This is important enough to repeat. Even if you have JPG quality set at 100%, each time you save the picture, you lose several percent of quality from recompression, and the file still grows (at 100%).  If you know you will keep working with and saving the picture, stay with TIFF, because it does not recompress.  If you have a JPG you will work with extensively, convert a copy to TIFF first. When you are done, you can put in (or back to) JPG, if you need the smaller file size.

  • For simple cropping or rotation, use software that allows LOSSLESS cropping and rotation. On a Mac, Graphic Converter is a great choice. Photoshop Elements also is reported to have this feature.

  • Consider learning the UNSHARP MASK function in your software to crispen slightly blurry, or even "perfect" images. Some commercial printers require this of pictures that are inserted in books and reports. This should tell you something. As to which UnSharp Mask settings to use,

    • When a photo is blurry, or when not enlarged for cropping: High is 2 pixel, 100%, 4 Threshold

    • For good or blown up photos Low is 1/60/2

  • Everything can be downsized, but be careful. Computer monitors waste anything over 72 DPI, but printers can use all info up to about 1,400 DPI, but 150-450 is usually sufficient.

  • Some Photos can't be fixed. Chalk it up to the learning process. Always take several shots of important scenes. They are free. If you did domething differently on the one that is best, check the EXIF data and remember the settings.

 

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This page updated or reviewed in March 2011