Five Steps to Better Photos With Free Picasa Photo Manager
We carry our smart phones everywhere, and the bonus is that we have a pretty decent camera with us as a result. A lot of the shots turn out just fine, but there is always that one that would have been great if it just had a little more color and was a little sharper. So we hang onto that so-so photo and store it in our phone until we need the extra memory. Then we toss it because, well, it was just so-so.
There is a way to bring that photo to life. First let me tell you what I am NOT talking about. In Picasa, and in other photo management programs there is a function called Saturation. When I was new to photography, I used that function all the time. But then I took a good, honest look at my photos and realized there was something fake about them. The greens were too green and never in the history of fair weather was the sky that blue. A red shirt looked as though it had been painted with watercolors.
One day I was experimenting with Picasa, and I stumbled upon a way to drastically improve the appearance of a so-so photo without using Saturation. In fact I didn’t have to add color at all. I realized that all the color was in the photo. It just needed to be released. So open up Picasa, or download Picasa free from Picassa.com and lets get started.
Picasa should open to your photo library where all of your photos are stored. If you’ve just downloaded Picasa, you will need to import at least the photo you want to work on.
Find the photo you’ve chosen to practice on and double click on it. This will open up a new window which will have an enlarged image in the center and tools to the left.
My So-So Photo
I have chosen to work on a photo of a Philadelphia cobblestone street. I don’t know how old the street is, but it is in the historic part of town, only a block from Independence Hall. So I suppose this street could be over two hundred years old. I really like stonework like this, so I took a shot of it. But the result was less than exciting as you can see. So lets do some work on it and try to make it a better photograph.
Lighting Icon (step 1)
Click on the tab with the icon of a half black and half white sun. Now you have tools on the left that will help you work with the contrast of lights and darks in your photo. We won’t be using any tools that have to do with color.
Shadow Tool (step 2)
Go to the tool labeled “shadows.” Drag the slider over until the photo is much too dark. Keep in mind you can undo all of these changes and start over. So don’t be afraid to experiment and learn.
Fill Light Tool (step 3)
Find the tool labeled “Fill light.” Drag the slider over until you see a much improved image. If you feel you are seeing distortion, you can undo everything and start over. To do this, just click on the “Undo” button on the bottom right of the tool panel.
Highlights Tool (step 4)
Find the tool labeled “Highlights.” Drag the slider over until you see glare, then back up to where the image is sharper without causing any glare. You be the judge about what looks good. One thing to watch for with the Highlight tool is distortion in very light/white areas. Snow, clouds and sunlight can distort easily, so you won’t normally be moving the Highlights slider very far.
Figure 1--Finding the Sharpening Tool.
Figure 2--Finding the Sharpening Tool (step 5)
Figure 3--Sharpening Using Slider Tool (step 5)
Go back to the top and click on the first paintbrush icon (figure 1 above). The first box is labeled “Sharpen.” Click on this icon (figure 2). There will be one slider (figure 3). The sharpen function sharpens the edges of images on your photo by removing pixels. Be careful about moving the slider too far because you could remove too many pixels and have a grainy looking photo. Of course if this happens, simply click “undo sharpen” on the bottom right of the tool panel. When you have the photo sharpened, you are finished with the photo. Simply click "Apply," and then you can store it in Picasa or use it in your next hub on HubPages.
Cobblestone Street Before Editing in Picasa
Cobblestone Street After Editing in Picasa
Be Proud to Share Your Photos
Give these steps a try to next time you share photos on Google Plus, FaceBook, Pinterest, Flickr or any other social website, you'll be proud of the high quality of your photography.