Editing Photos with Piknik

This is a basic tutorial on how to do basic photo editing that explains how to do much of what you need to get make good pictures a lot better.

….If you don’t have a program that you are happy with Google’s free program called Piknik works well to do basic edits such as rotating and cropping.  (21st century disclaimer: we offer no guarantees or warranties for this program and, like most professionals, I mainly use Photoshop).

Many other photo editing software programs are available. Many digital cameras come with excellent programs that offer special functions that electronically correct for the camera’s problems, such as lens correction. If you’re getting reasonable results and are happy with something, stick with it. However, if you are looking and don’t have lots of time and/or money Piknik  is a good photo editing program to start with.

With Piknik you can either work online or download the program.

Piknik offers these simple features. We recommend you work your way thru them in the order below.

Start with an in focus picture in which you can see detail in the key element. If you don’t have that you don’t have a picture worth saving….for example, I’ve too often been asked to fix a picture of a child with a too small, too dark and or blurred face. Sorry, but if the pixels aren’t there, fixing them is the realm of art and creation, not editing and adjusting.

  1. Rotation: Tilted people, buildings or horizon? Fix them first with rotate. Rotation can cut off part of the picture, so by fixing rotation first you’ll then by cropping the correctly shaped image.
  2. Exposure: Seems pretty obvious…cameras don’t always get it right. Play around with the sliders and focus most about the key elements of the picture.
  3. Colors:
    1. Color Temperature (also called White Balance)Our eyes (and the brains behind them) are amazing…when we see something  with our eye in real life that we expect should be a certain color ….say a white piece of paper…we see it as white. Cameras are not so smart so pictures may  need some adjusting. For example, many shots taken on an overcast day will have a blue cast to them and many shots taken indoors will have a yellow or green cast to them. By adjusting this slider you can get more normal color. Or if there is a neutral color such as white, grey or black pick it using the neutral color picker tool. (Photographers will even place a grey square in a picture for accurate color rendering). It is nearly impossible to recover a picture with multiple color temperatures which is more common in night, flash and indoor shots using Piknik  Like other adjustments aim for the best adjustment on the most important elements.
    2. Adjusting the saturation  can often improve a picture, but be careful as over-saturated pictures look fake.
    1. Cropping: Piknik lets you crop to any size, including a size you select. Getting rid of extraneous stuff can really improve a photo. Reducing pictures from your camera to a manageable size can save from killing your friends bandwidth or the storage capacity of your server, result in faster downloads…all kinds of good stuff.To crop to an exact size  which is common in web work put the desired size (in pixels) and check scale photo.
      Hint: The crop feature is divided with 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines. Adjust the cropping so the key elements fall along these lines or at the intersections , called the  rule of thirds creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.

    We know what you’ve seen on TV, but in real life you you can’t appreciably increase the size of a picture and get good results. If the information isn’t there adding it is the realm of art, not technology.

  4. Sharpening can also improve a picture by increasing the contrast between edges but, like saturation,  don’t overdo it. Sharpening will have the best effect if you crop or resize before sharpening  so you are working on the final size.

These basic adjustments can greatly improve pictures but are hardly all that can be done-and of course, a professional with years of experience (and professional tools) can do a much better job.

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