Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Photo Tip Tuesday: Just a Little Contrast

I hear many people who are going on vacation lament, "I just want to take better pictures, my camera is so bad ." Well, that could mean a lot of things but one thing I noticed is that often the pictures themselves are pretty good- cool subject, nice composition, so what's the problem? Sometimes it all comes down to a simple fix- contrast.

When you're disappointed in a shot that looks washed out or less bright then you imagined, simply adjust the contrast. You can do this in any photo editing program that comes already installed in your computer (Microsoft Picture Manager in Office, or Paint). Can't find one? Try downloading GIMP for free. Also if you post your photos on Flickr, they have a program (Picnik) that allows you to edit pictures you've already uploaded and it's great.

So here's what I mean. I'm using some pictures my friend Jackie took on a trip to Costa Rica (i.e. beautiful scenes, average camera).

Before
After
In this example, changing the contrast also changed the color of the sky which you may like or you may not. If you don't, that can be fixed in color correction but that is a different post for a different Tuesday!

Before
After

This next one (a "Resplendent Quetzal") is tricky because it was shot through a telescope and could probably use other kinds of adjustments but here it is with just the contrast:

Before
After
There's no magic formula for adjusting contrast, you just have to play around with it and see what works for each picture. You can also try the "Auto Fix" which works very well for some photos that just need a slight tweaking. Sometimes less is more; you can also try reducing the contrast for a lighter, less saturated picture. So try it out, get crazy, and let me know how it goes!

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