PHOTOSHOP EDITING 101 – Basics for Beginners; how to save, store, crop and resize your photos.
Some people like to take photos and print straight away. Others prefer to tweak here and there to improve the ‘look’ of the picture. Others still (generally artists) like to change the photos so much that they are almost unrecognisable. This series of blogs is for those who want to edit their photos and don’t know where to start, so we will start at the beginning with compact camera users. The most common form of editing software is Photoshop (indeed, most major dictionaries have added ‘Photoshop’ to their definitions as both a Noun and a Verb), so that is what we will be focusing on.
From Camera to Hard Drive:
Firstly we need to start from the very beginning; loading your files onto your computer. Most people keep a dedicated “Pictures” folder on their hard drive, but this should not be treated as a general dumping ground. The easiest way to keep track of your images is a filing system, organised however would be easiest for you. For example, my photos are organised by year, then by event, then separated into folders with the original files and the edited end results. This way you don’t lose track of your photos and always have the original file in case of a mishap in editing. Of course, you should always back up your files on a separate hard drive (if you are really serious, a third backup should be kept offsite). Generally, when you plug the camera into the computer via the USB cable and turn the camera on, it will come up as an external device or drive. From there it’s a simple matter of highlighting your images and copying them into the folder you have created for them in your pictures folder. After this is done, and you don’t want to keep any of the photos on your memory card, FORMAT THE MEMORY CARD. Don’t just delete all of the pictures; go into the cameras menu where the format tool can generally be found under ‘Settings’ or ‘Tools.’ Formatting the card effectively erases everything from the card to prevent it getting corrupted, which can be a real pain later on down the track.
The two most common versions of Photoshop people have are Elements and the “Full Version.” The basic difference is that Elements has all of the basic and most commonly used tools and options and can be less confusing to use. Most readers will find that Elements is fine for their needs. When you open the program you may see some tools that you are already familiar with, such as the Menu bar, options bar and toolbox. The Menu bar runs across the top of the screen and contains various tool options such as filters, cropping and rotation, as well as your standard ‘Open file’ and ‘Save file’ options.
The Options bar sits below the Menu bar and changes depending on what tools you are using, to give you different settings for that tool. For example, if you are using the brush tool the options bar shows you the different shape, size, colour and opacity settings at your disposal. Beneath that is the Document window, which is where you see your picture when you open it. If you are working on several images at once they will be tabbed just under the options bar. To the left of the screen will be the Toolbox, which contains shortcuts to a lot of the essential tools you will need.
To the right is the Panel Dock and Pallets, which provide you with information. Each pallet is tabbed in the dock, and provides a different function such as navigation, layers and history. All of these elements are customisable, and can be moved around your screen to suit your needs.
Cropping and resizing:
The simplest thing that most people want to be able to do is crop and resize their shots. This can be done by clicking the Crop tool in the toolbox, and then click and drag with the mouse to select the part you want to keep in the frame. To resize, the best option is to go to the Menu bar and select ‘Image’, then ‘Resize’. This will bring up a new box where you can resize the image size or the canvas size. Changing the canvas size can be handy for adding borders, or you can use the two tools in order to print a small image. One good example is if you want to print a picture to fit in a locket. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Ted’s are unable to print in this minute size. However, if you measure the size of the inside of the locket you can resize your image to shrink it down to the size you need to fit. Then copy the image and paste it onto a new canvas sized at 4”x6”, which can easily be printed in store as it is a standard print size.
That’s it for now; our next entry will be a bit more in depth, and cover how to brighten your images, make them black and white, and a few other neat tricks. Until then, happy shooting!