Tuesday, April 9, 2013

DigPhotog: Becoming a Photo Doctor (Photo Editing, etc.) [VID] Sp13

Brooke Miller Underexposed
Photo by Richard MasonerUsed under Creative Commons.

Let's get a little metaphorical.

Somebody who edits photos is a photo doctor.  A photo doctor diagnoses a photo and then prescribes a treatment for a photo disease.

For example, diagnose the photo to the right.  What's the problem with it?  What photo disease does it have?

It is underexposed.  Is that your diagnosis?  In your favorite photo editing software, how would you treat that disease?  A medical doctor uses a variety of tools to treat medical problems (e.g., a scalpel). As a photo doctor, what tools would you use?

As you begin your internship as a new photo doctor, I'd suggest you start with a small set of "diseases" that you can diagnose (recognize) and treat (fix) and a small set of tools to learn how to use.  As you progress as a photo doctor, become an expert in treating more diseases and learn how to use additional tools.

I'd suggest you start with a set of photo diseases like below and learn the 2-5 general steps that are usually  needed to treat the disease.
  • Underexposed Photo (whole photo)
  • Overexposed Photo (whole photo)
  • Part of Photo Underexposed
  • Part of Photo Overexposed
  • Unwanted Elements in Photo
  • Distracting Background
  • Washed Out (Low Contrast) Photo (See the before photo below.)

Clipped from: digital-photography-school.com (share this clip)

For steps on how to treat the photo disease listed above and many more, see Digital Photo Doctor.   The book takes a similar metaphorical approach.  Check out the book.  You should be able to get it for $5 or less.

Of course, you could also do a YouTube search for helpful photo editing tutorials that deal with the disease you want to treat.

As a beginning photo doctor, you should also start learning how to use a small set of of photo editing tools and techniques. Here are some basic photo doctor tools and techniques that you'd need to treat the previously listed photo diseases.

When learning how to treat the diseases and how to use the tools, I'd recommend that you learn how to use the tools at a general level so that you can move from one photo editing software to another.  Don't get to caught up in the key-strokes used in specific software (e.g., press Shft+Ctrl+U to desaturate in Photoshop).

Speaking of photo editing software, I'd recommend GIMP, a free photo editing software package that you download to your computer (see info video).  I'd also recommend Pixlr.com, a free, powerful, photo-editing site that allows you to edit photos right within your browser.   Go to Pixlr.com right now and try some the things discussed above.

Cosmetic Photo Surgery

The above discussion may leave the impression that the only thing you can do with photo editing tools is fix or treat photo diseases or problems (e.g., underexposure).  However, photo editing tools are not just used to treat a disease, but can also be used to “beautify” or modify the photo   You could think of this a cosmetic photo surgery.  You are not really fixing a problem with the photo, you are adding to it.

You could turn a color photo to black and white and then colorize only one item in the photo.

You could add unusual content to the photo (ghosts, UFOs, etc.).

Of course, there are tons of other interesting photo editing techniques you could learn.  Have fun adding to your cosmetic photo surgery skill set.

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See more about me at my web site WilliamHartPhD.com.

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