February 9, 2011

# 6 - Pick one image editing program

Every picture you take needs a little work.

That’s not a shot at your fabulous photos – it’s actually a confirmation of the possibilities digital cameras open for us. Once upon a time, the film you picked up from the Fotomat was the best you were going to get.

Not anymore.

Today you can soften Aunt Tina’s dayglow orange tan, clean up your son’s ice-cream caked face, even get rid of the pesky tree that’s just ruining your landscape. Just ruining it, I tell ya!

Here’s the problem. There are loads of choices when it comes to image editing programs. Super easy (iPhoto!) to super feature rich (Lightroom!) and everything in between. With all the goodly sliders and features, you’re going to be tempted to try them all.

Do that. Try out a bunch. Then pick one and stick with it. When you grow with a single image editing program, you automate your ability to colour correct and retouch your photos. It quickly becomes second nature after and in no time you’ll know exactly what to do to make your pictures look out of this world.

How easy is it to use?
If you’re not used to it, don’t start with Adobe Photoshop. Brilliant program, with so steep a learning curve that you’ll probably put your camera down and just try and remember your kids as they are. Pick something that is easy to understand and easy to use.

Does it work the way you work?
I’ve always been frustrated by programs like iPhoto because they don’t think the way I think. Notice how you use a program when you’re testing it out. Can you find the buttons easily? Are your favourite features buried in a menu? Does it make sense. (For the record, I use Lightroom. It follows a straightforward routine that I entirely love.)

Do I have room to grow?
Sure your program is great today – but will it be great tomorrow. Think about things you might want to change or fix in your photos when you get a little experience – colour temperature, sharpening, cloning and healing brushes. Even if you don’t know those terms now, they’ll be ready for you when you’ve mastered the exposure controls.

Contest! Contest! Contest!
Giving away a fancy Eye Fi card next Friday. All you have to do is ask a question in the comments section of the Frame One blog.

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