Editing Digital Photos 101

Check your concerns at the door……

Since the overthrow of film cameras, digital photos have taken off. There are many benefits to taking digital photos: you get more than 36 at a time, perform your own processing, easy photo manipulation and more wallet friendly… just to name a few. While there were some very affordable film cameras on the market, they took nowhere near the quality of images we are seeing today for an equivalent digital camera investment. But as we have learned time and time again, there are two sides to every story. For now, we are just going to focus on editing the digital photos you have taken.

Before we discuss the results of the photos you have taken, we are going to take a lesson from the playbooks of film photographers. Because film cameras only allowed you to take 36 frames, I know that for all you old-school film guys there were options for more film underwater, the photographer carefully selected and composed the photograph.

How does this apply to editing digital photographs?

If you take your time and compose the shot as best you can, it can mean the difference of culling and editing 300 photographs as opposed to 100. Believe me… the screen time of sorting through a third of the photographs will make all the difference in the world.

Now that you have the image what do you do with it?

The next step depends on a few things: how familiar you are with computers and how familiar you are with photo editing software, so let’s break this down.

The assumption here is that, if you own a digital camera, you already have a computer so the only advice we have here are two words – memory and back-up. When you start taking digital photos you are going to need a lot of memory. There are two different ways to accomplish this: you can get a computer with a lot of built-in memory, or you can buy external memory in the form of flash drives or external hard drives.

The flash drives and external hard drives already mentioned can play a duel role; they can also work as a back-up to photo storage. The end goal with backing up photos is to have your images in two places that are independent of each other. For those of you a little more tech savvy, the Cloud Technology is also a great solution as it allows you access to your images no matter where you are.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s talk about the software available.

With so many options on the market ranging from free to a couple thousand dollars we are going to focus on the interface between you and the editing program and the basics of what you can do with an image.

The interface, while it seems insignificant, is a very important part of the process, if you don’t understand what tools and options you have available, your experience will be less than enjoyable and you will not get the end results you are looking for. When selecting the software make sure you understand the icons and tabs that are provided or that the help functions are clear and explain how to use the product. One example of free software is Picasa by Google. You can get this as a free download and try it out.

Now for a little terminology, because as we all know…computers and the software they use have a language of their own.

Here are some basic terms and what they mean:

Crop – this is a function that allows you to change the size and focal point of the picture you took. Here is an example of what it would look like:

Contrast – this feature allows you to make an image darker or brighter in the case of under or over exposure.

Sharpen – lines in photographs even ones that appear in focus, can sometimes need to be sharpened or softened this function allows you to do both.

Straighten – this function allows you to straighten an image where the horizontal line of the image may be tipped to the left or right.

There are many other features to digital editing software – too many to name – but with these basic tips in mind, the best thing to do now is upload an image and play around with it, keeping in mind to save it as a separate image so as not to lose the original. Once changes have been made to an original image there is no going back, another good reason for a back-up.

If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, contact your local SDI dive center and ask if they have any digital photo editing courses scheduled or if they would put one together for you. Remember: select, compose, store and back-up. Happy photographing!

Get started on your “Imaging Adventure!” Visit https://www.tdisdi.com to find a facility and instructor near you!

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