Whatever software package you choose to use to edit your images, there are three things you should check on every photo you take. This little checklist is of aspects of your photos that are easier to control on a computer with a bigger screen than on a phone. Best of all, and they are almost guaranteed to improve your photo.
Not a bad original… But I’m sure we can make it look bette
Crop. One of the things photographers do to their photos is to ‘crop’ them. This is a fancy name for cutting the edges off your photo: it’s sort of like ‘zooming in’ on a part of the photo you like. You can improve the composition of a photo, too, by cropping it in a way so the photo looks better. This is also your opportunity to straighten the horizon in your shots or get in closer to the action.
Keeping in mind the rule of thirds, let’s crop it a bit
Contrast. Photos coming out of your camera often look great, but they will look better by increasing the contrast a little bit. No matter how you do your editing, there will be a ‘contrast’ setting – usually in the form of a slider. Try upping it by about 20% and see what happens – amazing, eh? If, by some wild exception, your photo doesn’t look better with higher contrast, just put the slider back where you found it. At least you had a look.
Upping the contrast a smidge for more impact
Color. Whole books have been written about white balance and the aesthetics of colour, but let’s keep it simple: Find the ‘saturation’ slider in your image editing package. Try moving it up or down: Some photos look better with really well-saturated colours, others look better with very low saturation, or even in black and white. Experiment with both, find what works best for your particular photo, and be amazed by how much prettier your photos look!
… And let’s ramp up the colours. Be careful not to over-do it, though.
This photo, for example, might actually look better with muted colours – but it’s up to your own taste and preference.
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s easy to go over-board with your editing. Crop in too close, use too much contrast or saturate the photo too much, and they will never look good. Do experiment with the extremes, as they’ll give you a feel for the effects you’re working with, but don’t forget to dial it back until your photos have the impact you are looking for.