Computer enhancement

Hints and tips from Philip Grosset

A photo editing program (like Photoshop Elements) can offer all the advantages of having your own darkroom without any of the mess and inconvenience! Below are some simple examples of what can be done. There are numerous other examples on my Photo Critique pages.

Boy cropped
Boy blowing bubbles
The photo on the left looks much better after it has been cropped, as on the right. Cropping is something that can be done very easily with absolutely any photo editing program, and it must be the most useful feature of all.
However, here I also used Photoshop to remove distracting objects (such as the photo frame) from the background and to straighten up the window. In addition, I threw the background more out of focus, sharpened up the boy and the balloon, and lightened (and slightly yellowed) the area inside the balloon. This all got quite complicated, but the single most important improvement was made by the cropping.

The photo on the left was taken using just the light from the window and needs sharpening up - something that any photo editing program can do. The sharpened version is on the right. Most pictures look better when sharpened up - but be careful not to overdo it.
Here a photo editing program has been used to throw the background out of focus - very useful with portraits like this so as to avoid unnecessary distractions.

Stained glass original Window cropped
I thought this stained glass window, showing Houghton Mill in Cambridgshire, in the Millenium Window at the parish church might make an effective greetings card. Stained glass windows usually come out well if the sun is shining through them - but, in this instance it wasn't! Another major difficulty is that when you look up at a tall window from below, the resulting photo often shows it leaning in towards the top. Also the surrounding area often comes out black. All three of these problems can be seen in the original version of this photo, as shown on the left, but they could all be put right by using a photo editing program to correct the distortion, increase the brightness and crop away the dark surround, as shown on the right.

Flower card
Another greetings card. The photo of the flowers on the left looks a bit muddled, but a photo editing program allowed me to use a round vignette to pick out the most interesting part and surround it with a pink background with appropriate lettering on it, as seen on the right.

On left: photo as originally taken. The prominent road sign on the top left is a major distraction.
On right: after the road sign has been removed with Photoshop.

I think computer enhancement is at its best when you can't see it has been applied. I'm not so keen on garish unreal images of the sort so often seen on the readers' photos pages of digital photo magazines!

This is part of a large group photo where just one person was missing. But Photoshop came to the rescue by superimposing an older photo of the missing person. Can you tell which person it is?

Answer at foot of page.

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The missing person was the woman in the back row on the extreme right.