Making Your Photographs GREAT with Editing

Following yesterday’s annoying events I am more determined than ever to complete this post without any hitches. I do sometimes wonder if I will ever learn from my mistakes: save, Save, SAVE!! What more can I say? SAVE

Update- I have now written this post 7 times and lost it every time! The support forum are being brilliant as usual and trying to help me. The advantage to this is that I am fast becoming quite an expert (in an amateur, novice way). I still have loads to learn however but my posts are getting more to the point each time!

2 days later and I am still struggling! I will not give up however (I am so stubborn!)

Following on from two previous posts where I looked at how to take better photographs (here and here ) the next logical step is looking at how you can enhance them using a program such as Photoshop or paint. Every book that I have read has made it very clear that the most important part of photographs is taking a good picture in the first place. Once you have done this you can ‘touch’ it up a bit using an editing program. I use Photoshop – purely because we have a copy of it. It is very complicated and can do almost anything that you could wish for but I am sure that others are very similar.

Today I thought that we would have a look at histograms.
This is an example of a histogram.


You will be able to see these on some cameras as well as in editing programs.
To find them in Photoshop: IMAGE – ADJUSTMENTS – LEVELS

What is it?

A histogram is a diagram showing the tonal range of the image. The shape of the histogram shows the number of pixels in any tonal value. With the above example the histogram is showing that there is a lot of information concentrated in the shadows or black area. Conversely there is a lack of information in the midpoint to highlight areas (the white end). In other words the picture is slightly under exposed. The optimum histogram would have the majority of the information in the middle area such as:

His 2

The main bulk of information in this one is in the mid-range. Using this information it therefore follows that a histogram with the most information towards the right is overexposed.

So what about the numbers?
0 = the optimum level for black (this side is the shadowy end)
1.00 = the mid-tone grey tone. You can adjust this without effecting the highlight and shadow regions.
255 = the white’s highest point (the highlight end).

These levels can be artificially stretched and adjusted on an incorrectly exposed image so that it forcibly conforms to the correct levels. In other words you can make a slightly dodgy photograph look better than it really is! 🙂

His 3

This is my original photo and the histogram.


I have moved the left (shadow) and right (Highlight) sliders to bring them level with the start and finish points on the histogram. Notice how the corresponding numbers have changed.


I have now moved the mid-tone slider to change the brightness. (Moving this does not change the highlight and shadow levels)

So there you have it. Your photographs are yours to display in the way that you wish. The only thing you have to look out for is if you are using them to sell items. In this situation then they have to be the closest to real item as you can.

I hope that you understand this and that it is of some use. Thank you for your patience with the technical issues that I have had with this post. I am hoping that the publishing of this post marks the end of this unfortunate series of events. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Making Your Photographs GREAT with Editing

  1. Margo

    This is so useful. I’ve got Photoshop but have been using the free Photofiltre software just because it was easier. Now I’ve read your post I’m going to give Photoshop another go! Thanks!

  2. lululoves

    I wish I’d read this several years ago – you make it very easy to understand. Sorry to hear of your technical issues your last post made me laugh (been there so many times) Em xx

  3. daniellajoe

    Very interesting I need to try this out, you know what I would like to see here? How to put a watermark on your photograph, I have tried but I have no luck, thanks 🙂


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