The basics however will be fundamentally similar. ***Note: I am not touching upon RAW editing, that’s a bit above this level*** When I first load my photo into an editing program, I use The GIMP, the first thing I check is that the photograph is in focus and go from there. If it isn’t in focus the way you want it to be – bin it. I check the horizon next. If it is slightly skewed, I tend to have the left-side lower than the right, I use the rotate tool and guide rules to level the horizon. I drag the guide rule onto the centre of the horizon and slowly adjust the rotation until happy. After levelling your horizon you’ll find that you’ll need to crop your photo. Find the crop tool and drag it out until you have what you want in the photo – avoiding the ‘negative’ space created by cropping. Just levelling the horizon of your photo will improve composition and make it more pleasing to look at. As you grow as a photographer you’ll find that wonky horizons will really irritate you.

The next step I use to edit my photos is to level my colours. This, in basic terms, makes the whites white, the blacks black, and the mid-tones sit nicely in-between. For most of my photos I am happy with the results that ‘auto-level’ produces. ‘Levels’ is the option you’re looking for in your software, usually under colors on the menu running along the top of the screen. If you are happy with the results of auto-level you can press revert or cancel and manually level the colours.

levels

These three sliders are what you’re looking for. The one on the left is the black/shadow slider. Drag it left and right to see what happens. I generally drag it right so that it just touches the left edge of the histogram. The slider on the right is the white/highlights slider; again slide it left and right to see how it affects the image, you may need to click on the preview changes button if it isn’t already checked. The middle slider sets the mid-tones and you can move it as you loke to balance the image. When happy, click save and save your image. There will be a huge difference between the photo you have now and what you started with. The photo will seem punchier and the colours more accurate.

comparison

The goal is to get as much correct when taking the photo so that your editing is kept to a minimum. This was just a taste of what you can do with editing. With advanced knowledge and practise you can create a composite photo made from hundreds of photos and nobody would be any wiser! *I am nowhere near that level*

Ryan