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Editing tips and tools to improve your photos

– Whether you’re an aspiring shutterbug or professional photographer, editing tools and software can make a great photo even better or improve the quality of pictures you’ve already snapped. 

“While the right photography techniques and lighting are important elements of taking the best possible pictures, it’s also easier than ever to enhance your images after the fact,” says Barbara Obermeier, principal of Obermeier Design, a graphic design studio, and faculty member of the graphic design program at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, visual journalism, graphic design and photography. “There are more photo editing software options for aspiring and professional photographers, as well as editing tips that can improve the look of your photos.”

Obermeier, who has written numerous books on image editing, offers the following photo editing software options and tips to consider:

* Tap into the photo editing software that comes standard on your computer. Both Apple and PC computers come with standard photo editing software that allows users to make basic edits like reducing red-eye, cropping photos and changing color contrast and brightness. Mac users who aren’t ready to upgrade to more costly, time-intensive editing programs can edit photos using iPhoto, and PC users can use Windows Live Photo Gallery.

* Upgrade your editing software. Adobe Photoshop, used by professionals across the globe, can be pricey but is widely recognized as the standard in photo editing software. Although the program can have a steep learning curve, online tutorials and books can help even the novice user edit photos like a professional. For users with less experience, Photoshop Elements is a more cost-effective tool for learning the ins and outs of photo editing, and you can also get your feet wet with a free online option, Adobe Photoshop Express.

* Experiment with various editing tools to enhance your photos. Simple changes like cropping photos to showcase the subject and using red-eye remover tools to erase the negative effects of the camera flash will give your photos a more professional look. To create desired lighting and exposure effects, increase and decrease brightness and contrast. Use photo filters to give your snapshots a vintage feel with a black and white filter or create an old world look with a sepia tone filter. All of these options can enhance your photos, but make sure to save the originals when testing new editing techniques.

* Do your research. When looking to expand your photo editing skills with new software, it’s wise to read reviews and comparisons, do online research, talk to other photographers and try different software options with free trial offers to evaluate which product is best for you. Likewise, to learn how to edit your photos, look to the work of professional photographers you admire and study their photo composition, layouts and lighting to use as inspiration for your own photography.

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