Awhile back, I became a little more than interested in beefing up my photos with a little after-shoot editing. The problem was that I didn’t want to spend alot of (read: any) money on expensive photo editing software. I had (have) some friends who have had success with Photoshop, and, while I’m looking into it for the future, the cheapest version I could find was upwards of $90.
So, being the researcher I am, I Googled it. When I did, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Google’s free, that’s right, free downloadable photo editing software called Picasa. While it certainly won’t do all that Photoshop will, it does perform a number of basic functions that boost picture quality significantly.
And did I mention it’s free?
Anyway, I thought I’d use a blog post to take you on a little behind-the-scenes tour of how some of the photos you see on the blog take shape, all the while displaying some of Picasa’s capabilities.
Forgive me for the before-and-after nature of these pictures, but I’ve been looking up alot of inspirational weight-loss stories online lately.
I took this picture on a recent excursion. While it’s not a bad picture, I thought I’d put it through Picasa’s “crop” feature to see if I could get it to be better.
Both pictures have their bonuses, to be sure, but I think the second one brings the focus to the lighthouse, while keeping the pretty parts of the plant life.
This is one of the co-captains of the Diva’s cheer team. Isn’t she beautiful? Yeah, all except for her devilish, red eyes.
No problem. After I cropped her in a bit. I just used the red-eye reduction button, and Picasa took it from there. Automatically. This is how beautiful she normally is.
This is Pei. When the time for his photo shoot rolled around, he was suffering from a little hormonally related acne. Not to mention, the blanket had a big, dark blue thread on it, and the chair from my sister’s kitchen table where we had laid him was showing. Ugh. Picasa had to go into overdrive on this one.
After I cropped out the chair, I used the “retouch” feature to clean up the thread and the acne. Basically, the program allows you to take a patch from somewhere else and put it over the offensive area. The blue thread area was taken from another part of the blanket, and the acne was covered with skin from his chest.
If only I could cover my acne with skin from my chest. But that’s a different kind of editing.
Picasa’s got some great tuning features, too.
When I saw this picture, I knew it was a win: a rare look into Big Daddy’s one-dimpled sense of humor. However, it was too dark and neutral.
So, after cropping Big Daddy in, I added both fill light and highlights. Afterwards, I changed the color temperature from a more blue overtone to a more yellow one.
It’s more sunset-y.
Picasa has the capacity for a number of effects, as well.
You can add a soft focus around the edges to give the picture a more ethereal quality.
Black-and-white covers a multitude of photographic sins.
As does sepia.
The “glow” effect creates a nice, uh, glow.
And the focal black and white has some nice uses, too.
While these are, in no way, professional quality photos, and I’ll probably never be a professional-level photographer, the program does give my simple, little pictures some nice upgrades.
Besides that, I’ve learned how to use it to mask a myriad of my photographic missteps.
To get going with Picasa, click on the link and click the “Download Picasa 3.8” button. Then, start editing.
Oh, and I’d love to see some of your before-and-afters. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.