photo books part five // editing images

Hello, and welcome to the final post in my series on making photo books. Today, I am sharing with you a few of the ways that I edit my images. I would like to preface this post by saying that in all honesty, my editing knowledge is rather limited. However, there are a few very simple things I have learnt over the years, that I do on a regular basis, to enhance my photos.

PC Software
In the past, the thought of editing my photos was a bit of a misnomer to me. I didn't want to faff around with things that ultimately might not improve my original images. Photoshop seemed like a minefield, and in the beginning, I was just very content to have a digital camera at all. I still don't do an enormous amount of editing, but there are a few steps that I frequently go through when organising photos to include in blog posts, and to share on Instagram, that are not at all scary, and only require free software.Years ago, my Dad introduced me to Picasa.This is a free piece of software that enables you to organise and edit the photos that you upload to your computer. Currently, I only use it for the editing side of things, rather than photo organisation. (I talked a bit about how I organise my photos in this post.)
Basic Editing Tips:
My top three tips for fast and simple editing would be to do the following to your images:
1) Straighten
2) Crop
3) Contrast

It is possible to do all of these things in a program like Picasa, but I would also suggest that you hold these principles in mind when you are in the process of composing and taking a photo, to save editing your images once the photo has been taken. However, when speed is of the essence in capturing a moment, sometimes it is hard to take the time to remember each of these elements.
I have provided the examples below, so that you can see the difference a little bit of editing can make, bearing in mind the three tips of straighten, crop & contrast.

When I open a picture in Picasa, this is what I see on my screen. On the left hand side are the basic editing tools, and you can see within these tools are all of those that I have mentioned, making it very quick and easy!
As you can see in the screen shot, I have made little attempt with the composition of this shot, other than thinking about the lighting (I liked the shadows cast by the natural light coming through the kitchen window) and the positioning of the tartlets on the board. The first thing I did to slightly improve this image is straigten it:
This image provides a good example of how perspective affects an image, which is something I talked about in my previous post in this series. The chopping board has perfectly straight lines, which should help my composition, however, because I didn't take the photo from above, looking directly down at the egg tartlets, even with straightening the image in Picasa, I can immediately see that what would make this a more pleasing picture, is if I had stood on a chair and taken the photo looking directly down.

Next, I cropped the image to get rid of the 'clutter' around the main subject - ie both ends of the chopping board, and the metal ring. It is helpful to think about what else you have captured in the edges of your photos that might detract from the main subject itself.
My third editing step was to increase the contrast between the colours. This creates a subtle difference, but can often help the colours in a photo 'pop' a bit more.
And for a bonus step, because I thought that this further improved the picture, I increased the exposure to add a bit more light

Phone Editing
In terms of editing photos on my phone, I probably edit about 60% of those I share on Instagram with the VSCO app for iPhones, which is free. I originally used the filters that are available on Instagram to change the lighting and feel of some of my images, but got to a point where I preferred to have total control over each element of the image (exposure, contrast, warmth, etc), which VSCO allows you to do. If you're interested in reading a far more detailed blog post on how you can use VSCO to enhance your images, I can highly recommend Mary Beth's blog post? She has a beautiful and distinctive style to her photos, and her blog is one of my favourites. When I use VSCO, I tend to just go through the same process as I described with the photos I edit in Picasa - straightening, cropping, lightening, to improve the quality of my images in small but significant ways.

In conclusion, I realise that this post is far less specifically about photo books, and there is every chance that you have no interest in doing anything to your images, other than getting them from your electronic device into a book. But for those of you who have perhaps wanted to make some minor changes but did not know where to begin, I hope that this might be of some interest to you.

Next week, I'll be concluding the series by sharing with you the people who have inspired me in how I go about documenting our family life through photos and words.