Editing stock photos, crop, adjust  Photography tips


Product photography      Pet photography  

How to maximize the value of your photographs

        It can take a great deal of time, energy, and money to get a stock of photographs so you want to get maximum benefit from them. With modern technology itís easy to get a bountiful load of material, plus be able to create a fine finished product in a short time. To do that, you need to get the right tools. That is, a good camera and lenses, effective system of transferring files to your computer, proper storage and backup devices, and regular viewing to know your stock and keep it ready for projects.

          Look at your photographs as raw material. In travel photography especially, but in other forms as well, there a lot of waste. The good news is that many times all you need is one good picture ( products ), or a few good photos. You can get many nice photos by using a variety of editing and adjusting techniques.




Editing photos

Editing a photo is like cutting a diamond. Before starting you have to look at it and determine how you want to use it,. Each person develops their own editing style, but here is how I do it.

Example 1

The point of this photo is the story it tells, morning breakfast at the local tea shop.


Cropping photos for best effect.

Like many travel photos this was taken ďon the flyĒ, fast, with little time for composition, so there is more in the photo than I need. Thatís where cropping comes in. Use it to get rid of extraneous material. First I look at the border areas. In the right side of the photo there is a black bulge. On the left side is a tiny piece of someoneís hand. At the top, there is a bit of the shop canopy. On the bottom there is more of the solid grey concrete than I need to convey the idea. So, here is my first crop.



Notice how much tighter the composition is. Along the edges, Iíve included only as much detail as I need to convey the idea. For example, on the left side is part of a cooking pot, and on the right there is part of a yellow plastic container. Iíve taken advantage of some geographic shapes, such as the square in the lower right. Draw lines from opposite corners, and where they cross will the center of focus. In this case, itís a bowl of food material set between the two cooks.

      Now, I need to adjust the levels of light. There is too much shadow in some areas that mask important details. So, I use Photoshopís levels adjustments to good affect, lightening the mid-tones a touch. I want to keep some shadows to show the morning lighting.

     In the photo there are several spots of color. The yellow and red on the right, and some light blue on the left. Thereís also a bit of orange in one manís shirt, a nice complement to the light blue. I use photoshop to gently saturate the colors, just a bit. Photos that get seen on websites, especially, can often benefit from more contrast and more color saturation.

This photo is almost done. I need to make sure itís the right size for my application, a website slide show. Many digital cameras save files at ver large sizes, such as 36 by 48 inches. You definitely donít need that on a website. I resize web photos to roughly two thirds screen size, such as 12 inches, with corresponding height. There is no reason to confine website photos to a ďstandardĒ size, such as 8 by 10. It is much more interesting to have photos of a variety of sizes and ratios. Just keep in mind geometric principles when cropping to keep proportions that are pleasing to the artistic sense. Take advantage of shapes, curves, and angle


Example 2

The idea of this photo is the spiritual pilgrims on the shore of a sacred river, making a transition from one state to another, with the sand and water conveying the contrast.

First, look at the elements of the photo. The top half is mostly dry sand, and the bottom is clear, beautiful water, a nice contrast of texture, color, and material. The photo is slightly angled to the right ( see the steps at the top. ) Thatís not necessarily bad, but Iím going to rotate it back slightly for this use. By rotating it back about 7 degrees, I can still keep enough of the photo after the crop to make a nice compostion. I donít need all that grey concrete at the top, but I do want to keep all of the blue wall at the top because it adds needed color, and itís complementary to the orange in the sadhuís clothing.


Now the photo is much more compact, and thereís a nice balance between the water and the sand. Lines drawn from opposite corners accent the two people on the shore line, just entering the water. The little splashes of bright color ďpopĒ, in front of the neutral sand background. I got rid of a big block of grey on the top, but preserved almost all of the water in the bottom.

Example 3

The story of this photo is the lighted market at night, with a sharp contrast between the small shop bulbs and the darkness on the right.


Night scenes can be challenging. Thereís a lot of dark areas in this photo but I donít want to get rid of them all. I want some contrast between the dark and the lighted shops. In the AFTER example, Iíve cropped out a lot of the dark areas on the bottom and right side. Then I adjusted the levels, lightening up the mid tones revealing more detail. The diagonals show that the center of the photo is right next to the dividing line between the lighted shops on the left and the darker area, with distant river, on the right.

The result is a much better composition and better lighting.