(96) Image Manipulation Software

by Robert A. Burns

If you are not already doing so, you should use some form of image manipulation software for your digital images. Why?

1. Almost all digital images are a bit flat and can use some contrast adjustment.
2. Almost all digital images can benefit from some degree of sharpening.
3. All software programs provide some means to fix red-eye.
4. You can improve the composition of your images by cropping out extraneous detail.
5. If you take your images to a photo lab to be processed and you want to change the dimensions of your images (say from 4x6 to 5x7), then either you will have to tolerate two bands of white space on the photo, or you will have to let the photo lab’s computer crop your photo to make it fit the new dimensions. Don’t let the computer decide where to crop your photo. You should make this decision yourself.
6. You can experiment with special effects that will add impact to your photos.

But which photo manipulation software should you use?

I use Adobe Photoshop CS, which is probably the best package out there. But it is expensive ($699 list, $450 street), it is massively complex, and it is not intuitively obvious.

A better choice would be Adobe Photoshop Elements (about $99 list, $49 street) or the software that came with your camera. I would recommend that you buy a book that is dedicated to your software program. Learn how to crop and correct red-eye. And learn how to improve contrast, luminosity, sharpness, and color. After you become more comfortable with these functions, you can tackle more advanced features.