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Come in! There are a few adventures I’ve written about, but most of the content offers classes in photography and mentoring for photographers, including photo theory, which, although a vital part in our profession, is largely an overlooked subject in all published media that profits from and feeds our gadget minded mindset today.

Powerful editing software turns photos into digital art – A26

September 19 2009 - Photo Technical

Double-clicking on an image that has been placed in your Picasa2 photo tray will bring it into the photo editor.  Basic actions include Fixes, Tuning, and Effects.Picasa2 ART 26 Triton

We’ve come a long way, beginning with exploring all the possibilities and functions of compact digital cameras, to storing and printing images.

In the last article I re-introduced Picasa2, a free photo editing program from Google.  Unless you have another purchased software program, such as Adobe PhotoShop Elements, or Lightroom, or CS3, Corel, and there are others…… I hope you have downloaded Picasa.

I use both Lightroom and Photoshop CS3.  Both are powerful image editing packages.  They also have a considerable learning curve to fully utilize.  If asked to recommend the next step up I would suggest Lightroom, which is simply irresistible in managing and sprucing up images.  I give this recommendation keeping in mind I have no experience with PhotoShop Elements, Corel Editing Pro or other editing software you can Google for and find on the Internet.

An important forward before entering the world of digital photo editing and enhancement is to say that you may learn to perform (what you think are) miracles with photo editing software, but a bad photograph is what it is …. bad.  The best photographs begin with great photography.

What happens with digital photo editing software can enrich an image, but it can also make it fake, unreal and awful.  Use this software with subtlety and if you want to take it further into a creative artistic realm do so with a purpose and true vision.  This world is already cluttered or buried in images.

As a student of photography, and someone very interested in photographic theory it is fascinating to me to analyze how things have changed with photography in the digital age.  Photography is no longer the covenant of the real.  Fine art photography is morphing into computer art.  And this art has fully blended with science for its creation.  This may seem an aside for a “hands on” article, but an interesting one for anyone seriously interested in photography.

Back to the practical, last week in Picasa2 we opened our photo Library and placed any pictures we liked in the photo tray.  Double clicking on one of these will bring it into the photo editor (see photo).  At the upper far left you see three tabs with Basic Fixes, Tuning, and Effect.

Basic Fixes has buttons for Crop, Straighten, Redeye, I’m feeling Lucky, Auto Contrast, Auto Color, and Fill Light.

Crop: This has Manual, Reset, Apply, Cancel, and also Rotate and Preview options.  This is certainly a most useful creative tool. es.

Keep the rule of thirds that was covered in my article on composition.  If you plan to print and frame your photograph, then proper proportions for 4X6, 5×7, 8×10 and other siz

Straighten: A slider that moves left and right slider will put things on an even keel, and the Apply or Cancel.  This is handy especially for sailors rocking on the oceans.

Redeye: comes with simple instructions.  We talked about what causes this…simply the lens being too close to the angle of view of the lens, causing the blood in our eyes retinas to reflect back to (exposing lens).  It’s the nature of the small compact camera to have this problem, and all retouching software has the fix.

I’m feeling lucky: My version of I cast my fate to the wind.

Auto Contrast: Try it.  It adjusts the difference between the light and dark portions in your photo.  If there is too little a photo is flat, and too much makes it look wacky.  You hope the Auto makes it right.

Auto Color: Is another try it.  It should add some warmth back to pictures taken in the shade, etc.

Fill Light: This is a blessing for areas lost in the shadows, and it will likely be one your frequently used adjustments.  It brings back some detail.  Too much will wash everything out.   More complete and expensive software will include a slider to keep the blacks black and reduce the possible wash out.

We will explore more areas of Picasa2, and having just received PhotoShop Elements with my new Leica D-lux3 camera, I will look into this software for future articles, but for now I’ll ask permission to come ashore.