How to Doctor a Photo With Software

By Jeff Miller

The dinner was great, but the photo wasn't. Here are some tips to help salvage or improve it.
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With the advent of digital cameras and photo-editing software, the power to customize photos is no longer the sole domain of a photograph specialist who performs mysterious chemical transformations to your photo in a darkroom. Now anyone with a computer and a digital camera can learn to "doctor" photos. There are many choices for photo-editing software, some of them free, others quite affordable, and at the top end, very expensive. However, they all have a few things in common, whether you paid nothing or two months' wages for your image software.

Basic Photo-Editing Software Techniques

Open the photograph that you want to edit with your image-editing software, then open the Red Eye removal tool. It will be under a menu heading like Adjust, Adjustments or Effects. It could also be on the software's toolbar. Using the red-eye removal tool, zoom into the eye that you want to repair and select the area to be repaired by clicking and dragging a circle around it. Depending upon your software, you will have choices as to what you can do to alter the selected area. Experiment with changing things until you get the results you are looking for.

Adjust the brightness and contrast of your photograph. This function is usually found under the "Adjustments" pull-down menu. If your picture is dark and dull looking, increase the brightness by putting a larger number in the brightness box, or by moving the slider up or to the right. Do the opposite to lower the brightness. The contrast controls should be on the same menu as the brightness controls. After finding the brightness level you desire, adjust the contrast to make the photo more defined. One of the easiest and most-impressive ways to doctor your photo is to enhance the brightness and contrast.

Correct the color so that it is visually pleasing to look at. Open the color tool. Often software will have an auto-color feature; choose this if your software has it. If not, adjust the red, green and blue sliders until you have achieved a color combination that suits you.

Crop the edges off of the picture in order to center it up or remove peripheral elements that are unwanted. Do this by choosing the cropping tool from your toolbar and selecting an area to crop out of the picture. Everything lying outside of the selected area will be deleted when you crop the photograph. The crop tool can help you to clean up a junky-looking photo by cutting out the stuff you don't want. It can also let you to reposition your subject.

Save your photograph under a different name before you add effects to your photograph, such as a frame or border. Open the "Effects" pull-down menu and choose an effect. Different programs offer different effects. Experiment with what is available in your particular program. A note about effects: some are destructive, which means that they can't be undone. That is why you should save your original photo under another name. If you don't like the effect, you will still have the original photo.