Hi everyone and welcome to the first post in the Photoschool series!
Images play an increasingly important part on the internet. Facebook bought Instagram for a whopping billion dollars, and studies show that tweets with images or photos are more engaging and likely to be retweeted than text-only tweets. Pictures are quick and easy. If an image is good, it draws us in. If an image is bad? We scroll past it!
Gone are the days where bloggers could get away with grainy images or harsh flash photography – and to be honest? I don’t really miss those days. As bloggers, we have to make an effort to make our sites as visually appealing as possible and even though it can be a pain at times when the light just isn’t right and we can’t get that perfect shot – I sorta love how we’re always pushed to do our very best and not settle for yellowish hues and red eyes.
Photoshop, Pixlr or Picmonkey?
Today, I want to show you how I edit my photos. In my time as a blogger, I’ve used several different editing programmes but at the moment, I prefer Photoshop. When I first started editing my photos, I always used Picmonkey.com. It’s insanely easy to use and the results are decent – perfect for beginners.
After a few years, I wanted to improve the quality of my images so I started reading about photography and editing, and I really wanted to be able to work with the curve tool so I switched over to Pixlr.com which is also a free editing software.
Today, I’m showing you how I edit my blog photos in Photoshop but if you don’t want to spend the money, the features I use in today’s post are also available in Pixlr! Or GIMP for that matter, but I have yet to try that for myself. Picmonkey is a little less advanced, and the results aren’t quite as good as with Pixlr or (especially) Photoshop, but before I show you how I edit my photos in Photoshop, I’ll just quickly show you how I would edit the same photo in Picmonkey.
How I would edit my photos in Picmonkey
This is how the photo looks before I edit anything.
One of the great things about Picmonkey is that it’s super easy to use. I choose Exposure and then I alter brightness, highlights, shadows and contrast. I always boost the shadows as I find that makes for a more interesting picture. Sometimes I up the contrast and highlights and if the photo is too dark (it can be after boosting the shadows), I brighten it a bit. Be careful not to go overboard on the brightness as you will end up with a less sharp and more grainy photo.
RELATED: How to create a round image in Photoshop
You can also play with the colors by adjusting saturation and temperature. When I first started blogging, I always boosted the saturation but now I tend to either leave it alone or mute the colors a little. It depends on the photo and your personal style so play around with the settings until you find a look you like.
This is how the photo looks when I’m done editing with Picmonkey. Below you can see the photo I’ve edited in Photoshop. It’s a lot more vibrant, the colours are deeper and it looks a lot sharper than the one I edited in Picmonkey. So let’s move on to how I edit my photos in Photoshop!
How I edit my photos in Photoshop
Before we begin: I know the pictures are small! I’ve uploaded them in a larger size so you can click on them to see the details you may not be able to see right now.
I begin by clicking the curve tool (just below the gold circle). The Photoshop curve tool is an extremely powerful editing tool. It allows you to “remap” the values of the pixels in your photo and change the brightness of them. You’re basically making some pixels lighter and some darker. This may not be the best explanation out there (in fact, I’m sure it isn’t!), but that’s all we need to know to start experimenting with the curve tool.
STEP 1: CURVES
When we first open the curve tool, the diagonal line is straight. What we want to do is bend it to adjust the contrast, highlights and shadows. You can brighten a photo a lot by lifting the upper part of the line and you can really bring out the shadows by dragging the bottom part down. In most of my photos, I lift the upper part a little and adjust the bottom part accordingly, but different photos call for different measures. It’s trial and error.
When you get a feel for the curve tool you can also use it to adjust the colors but that will have to wait for another day and another post. It’s not something I normally do, but it’s a great option to have.
RELATED: How to create patterned text in Photoshop
STEP 2: LEVELS
I can’t show you how I edit my photos without showing you this awesome tool! If I could only use one tool, I would choose this one. Definitely. The Level tool lets you adjust the intensity of your shadows, mid-tones and highlights. See the three small triangles? They are your sliders. The black point slider to the left, the white point slider to the right and the mid tone slider in the middle. These three sliders change the grey tones of your image. When you move the black point slider from its default position, the whole image gets darker – beginning with the blackest point. In this way, you can adjust and customize the contrast of your picture.
I almost always move the black point slider a little to the right to darken the blacks and give my images that gorgeous, deep feel. Moving that little black triangle a little to the right makes such a big difference.
STEP 3: BRIGHTNESS
Click the sun icon to adjust the brightness. This step is pretty self-explanatory. If your image is too dark, brighten it – and vice versa. You can also adjust the contrast, but (as you now know) I prefer to use curves and levels so I leave this one alone.
STEP 4: SATURATION
This tool is actually called hue/saturation, but I never change the hue of my photos. After adjusting the levels, I found that my colors were a little too in-your-face so I used the saturation tool to mute them a little bit. And that’s it! Now you know how I edit my photos.
It took me less than a minute to edit this photo (screenshots included) so it’s really not all that difficult. In fact, it’s very easy. You just need to know which tools to use and now you do 🙂
If you have any feedback or questions of any kind, please leave a comment down below. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you did, please share it with your friends or share it on your favorite social media.
Damn it. Now I really want a donut.