photography

How To: 5 common photo flaws and how to fix them

You’re back from travelling, a family occasion, or a day out with friends, and you’re ready to upload your photos to your computer. But what do you do with them next?

There are a plenty of ways that you can edit your photos, whether it’s cropping, removing blemishes or altering the colour. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a time-consuming task – and sometimes even the smallest of changes to photos can make the biggest difference.

Taking photos can be easy – what isn’t easy is taking the perfect photo. That’s why we’ve come up with five quick fixes you can do to automatically enhance your photos!

1. Red eye

Our survey found that 62% of camera owners take photos of people. Interestingly, over half (56%) of them found they needed to remove red eye from their portraits. Red eye is caused by the camera flash bouncing off of the person’s retina. Don’t let red eye ruin an otherwise great photo, especially when it can be quickly fixed.

Firstly, you need to check if your camera has the red eye reduction function. If so, definitely use it! If not, photo editing software should have a tool specifically designed to remove red eye in a matter of clicks.

When you’ve successfully removed the red eye from your image, you could also make some other improvements such as removing blemishes, or increasing the whiteness of the subject’s eyes to make them really pop out in the photo.

2. Lack of a focal point

Our recent survey also showed that 56% of photos need to be cropped. Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By using the crop tool, you can remove the unwanted areas of your background, ensuring the subject is the centre of attention in the photo.

If you find the composition of your photo is less than desirable, try applying the rule of thirds and using the crop tool. The rule of thirds says that you should divide your photo into 9 invisible squares and position the most important elements in your scene along the imaginary gridlines, or at the points where they intersect. This will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the screen, making it even easier to use.

However, not every photo needs cropping, but the visual impact and composition of many photos can be improved drastically.

3. Shots that aren’t straight

When you’re shooting a scene, there is so much to think about and you sometimes end up with shots that aren’t straight. There are many reasons why this happens, such as uneven ground, or an off-centred camera which can altogether lower the photo quality. The best way to ensure a perfectly straight photo is to use a tripod with a spirit level.

Unless you take all your photos with your camera on a tripod, it’s more than likely that some of your photos are going to turn out a bit crooked. Fortunately, the majority of photo editing software packages make it easy to straighten them in just a few simple steps.

It is quite easy to spot a sloping horizon once it is on your computer screen, especially when you compare it to an adjacent object, or by using the ruler tool. Once you have loaded up your image, use the rotate tool to re-align the scene so the horizon is straight, and then crop the image to make it square again.

4. Underexposed photos

Thought you took the perfect shot until you uploaded your images on your computer and realised darkness or shadowing has ruined it? There are many reasons for underexposed photos, such as shooting in a dimly lit space, standing too far away from your subject, or setting your camera’s shutter speed too fast. This can easily be avoided before taking a photo by moving near a window or lamp to add extra light when shooting indoors, moving closer to your subject and manually adjusting the shutter speed on your camera so it’s slower.

However, for pictures you have already taken that appear under exposed, the easiest solution is increasing the brightness and contrast slightly to lighten it. If you have over exposed images, simply reduce the brightness. You can also use contrast to adjust the difference in brightness between the lightest and darkest pixels, or edit the levels and curves to improve your image dramatically. In fact, most good photo editing programs will have a range of presets (eg. lighten image, darken image, etc.) so it’s easy to make changes to your pictures – even if you have never worked with levels or curves before.

5. Lack of creativity

If you want to make your photos stand out from the crowd, why not add a simple creative effect? We found that 24% of people choose to add creative filters and effects to their photos. There are numerous creative effects that can be applied to images during processing, like changing the colours of an image, applying effects to make the photo look like a watercolour painting, or create a stunning black & white image with a single ‘popping’ colour.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with editing your photos – just remember to save a copy of the original in case you don’t like the changes! It’s always worth spending a couple of minutes editing your images in a photo editing software package to ensure your photos look the best they can. With these five quick fixes your photos can be turned from average to fantastic in a matter of minutes.

For more information on Serif, the award-winning creative software developer of products including photo editing software, visit www.serif.com

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My BBC2 ‘Something for the Weekend’ Gadgets

Loads of you seemed to LOVE the Playstation Move on the show yesterday, Lovejoy was pretty good at the archery! Here are my gadgets from the show…P.S GirlGeekChic is a finalist in the Cosmo Blog Awards! Please vote for me here! Thanks! xx


 

Playstation Move

The Playstation Move is the latest in Sony’s games console range. It is a set of controllers that give you motion control gaming above and beyond what the console’s current Sixaxis controller offers you. It’s a stick that you wave around in front of your console, the game reacts to your movements and then relays that positioning information on screen meaning you’ve just swung a golf club or pointed your gun at someone.

What actually happens is that you plug the Sony Eye webcam into your tv, turn on the Move controller and then the camera tracks said controller as you use it. Because it is actively tracking it visually rather than just through motion detection, as is the case with the Wii Remote, it means that the console knows exactly where the device is. That precise positioning means that the data can be used more effectively in-game, which in turn means an improved experience over the competition from Nintendo. N.B – You have to go through a short calibration process for some games.

Price £34.99

The Waterpebble

The Waterpebble is a new, green gadget designed to help you think about using only as much water as you need, and therefore reducing your water bill and effect on the world’s water supply.  This is a gadget that monitors how long you’re taking in the shower by flashing red when it’s time to get out.

But what makes Water Pebble different from other timing devices is that it memorises how long you took for your first shower and sets about gradually minimizing the amount of water you use by reducing the time it takes for the device to flash red in subsequent showers. It effectively trains you to use less water when you shower. Using a series of “traffic lights, it grades your water usage from green (start) through to amber (halfway) to red (time’s up). So when it starts flashing red it’s time to get out!

Price £8

Spinner 360 Lomography Camera

The Spinner 360 Lomography Camera is designed to take 360 degree panoramic shots. Take the Spinner in one hand, pull the cord with the other and release it. In a split second the camera spins 360° around its own axis and records everything in its path on a frame more than 4 times longer than a conventional landscape picture. The mechanism is powered with a rubber band drive, so no batteries are required. You can create up to 8 full 360° panoramas on a 36-exposure roll of film. The camera can work with any variety of 35mm film.

Price £100

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