Saturday, 17 July 2010

Photo Editing for Noobs

Alright, I hope no one finds the title offensive because I'm referring to myself!  I'm now in charge of putting together a slideshow for my family reunion at the end of the month and I've quickly learned that not all the photos are great picture quality.  Some because my family is dumb, and some are just poorly photographed.  

Some of this can be fixed through simple cropping.  There are so many fixes you can make without trying very hard, and I want to share some of what I've learned with you!

All I'm using for everything is iPhoto on my macbook.  That's it.  Super simple.  Note that all my "instructions" will refer to iPhoto features, but I'm sure most other programs will have similar features.

Part of this is just to show off some of the great old photos of my family.  :P

First fix:  Stains on old pictures

If it's a B&W photo like this, click on "effects" and choose B&W.  It's that simple.  I also cropped it a bit, which I'll get into in just a bit!

Second Fix: Cropping

There are several reasons to crop your photos.  Sometimes there are undesirable things in them (someone's nose in the corner, etc) or there might be no focal point to the picture, and the list goes on. 

A good guideline to pictures is the rule of thirds.  There are so many people more knowledgeable about this stuff than me, so I'll leave the explaining to them (google it).  But iPhoto makes it super simple because when you go to crop a photo they automatically put the grid on your picture.  

Generally, you want to place the focus of your image on one of the lines that divides your picture into thirds. This can either be horizontal, or vertical.  This is where people's attention is drawn to first.  Through careful placement, you can guide your viewer through your picture to see what you want them to see. 

EX:  In this picture, there's a terrible shadow of the photographer.  AND it stands out because it just so happens to fall on the right hand "third line"

Through a little bit of cropping, I can adjust where those lines of thirds are, and now the shadow isn't quite as apparent as it was in the above picture.  It's not perfect, but it helps.

Remember that the "rule of thirds" is only a guideline! Don't be silly and crop off the top of someone's head just to make the picture conform to the rule.  It's not really a rule, it's a guideline.

Third Fix:  Play


After: Not perfect, but at least you can see faces a bit better, and it's not the eye sore it started as.

Okay, so this isn't really a fix, but it's good advice.  Play with different features until you see something you like.  The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become playing around with a picture until you like the look of it.  

For a really great blog with tips on photo taking (and I'd argue that these are also extremely applicable to photo editing!) check out The Anatomy of a Snapshot on Tatertots and Jello.  (I linked to the last post, but you can find the other parts of these series at the bottom in the "You might also like" part)

And now just a few of my favorite photos:

  See the cute little girl in the front right? That's my mom!

I'm the one on the left in the red dress.... I don't look very happy!!


  1. I love that picture of Ken, mum, and Laura with Gramma & Grampa! Mum was so blonde! And Uncle Ken looks the same as he does now!?!??! You and Mum look SO MUCH alike-I say that with love!

  2. Great tips! I love old family photos!
    thanks for stopping by my blog. :)


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