There are many free photo editing tools available to you online, which sounds like a good thing, but can actually create complications because they are prone to leaving newcomers bamboozled with the amount of options they have available.
If you are just dipping your toe in the water of photographic experimentation, the following insights on fundamental principles of editing will put you on a footing to having fun as well as getting great results.
Using Cropping to Enhance Photo Composition
In photography, composition is everything. How the elements are arranged in your photo plays a crucial role in creating an impactful image. So if you missed getting it perfect during shooting, don’t worry! Use cropping as your magic wand to undo any in-the-moment errors.
Cropping allows you to reposition some elements within your photo or remove unnecessary distractions at the edges by adjusting frame boundaries.
That’s where the oft-cited rule of thirds comes into play. Conceive of your photo as if it’s overlaid with a grid dividing it into three equal slices both horizontally and vertically. Placing subjects in the frame along these lines, with a little help from cropping, improves the look and helps guide the viewer’s eye toward what you want them to be focusing on.
Do remember though, cropping reduces pixel resolution which may in turn affect print size for physical photographs, and could create compromises if you’re intending to use the images on a website or your social feeds. Therefore, how much you crop should always be kept strategic and minimal if possible. This way, you’d also tighten and enhance your core composition skills progressively.
Erase Background Objects for a Cleaner, More Professional Look
We’ve probably all taken photos that look good at the time, only to realize there’s an unsightly dumpster lurking in the background or an unknown person pulling off an unsuspecting photobomb. It’s distracting and detracts from your overall image quality, which is exactly when you’ll need to use eraser tools.
This type of tool helps wipe off unwanted objects or elements that cause distraction in your picture. You can even use automated tools to erase objects in photos, which is ideal for beginners who don’t have the skills or the inclination to cut out unwanted elements by hand.
Ultimately, subtracting unnecessary clutter will let viewers focus more on the main subject of your photo, giving it a cleaner and more professional look.
Adjust Contrast and Brightness for Impact
Contrast is the difference in luminance or color that makes objects distinguishable. Meanwhile, brightness determines how dark or light tones appear in your photo. Adjusting these two parameters can drastically alter both mood and spatial depth of an image.
For example, if a picture looks flat or washed out, increasing contrast could add life to it. Similarly, adjusting brightness can diminish unwanted shadows in differently lit areas.
When working with free online tools, remember not to overdo changes as this may lead to loss of detail. It’s best practice to make small adjustments first and observe effects on overall visual quality during process iterations. Also be aware that screen settings might affect appearances, so always check your edits on multiple screens when possible.
Saving and Exporting Tips for Best Results
Once you’ve perfected your edits, the final step is saving an export version of your photo that best retains its quality. And this might be trickier than it sounds.
Make sure to choose a file format that suits your end-usage. For optimized web use, JPEGs work great optimizing decent image quality with smaller size. Meanwhile if high print resolution is what you need, consider TIFF or PNG.
If possible, always retain a copy of the original unedited picture (ideally as RAW file) so you can re-edit without cumulative deterioration from compression each time you save.
Finally, don’t forget metadata if caption info matters in usage context. This includes adding tag names, noting the location and so forth. This helps track digital files over time on different platforms. Also, avoid unnecessary upscaling during export, as this can mess with the look of the finished product that you’ve worked so hard on. Instead, keep image dimensions consistent with original resolution.
The Last Word
While there’s a lot more you need to learn about photo editing than what we’ve discussed above, these core aspects will have you well on your way to working wonders with free online tools, and also leave you eager to share your skills with friends and colleagues.