Image Easy

If you haven't been schooled in the art of photography, you've most likely had some photo mishaps. However, don't fret - even professional photographers produce pictures that need some surgery. Luckily, there are scores of tools you can use to put your best photo forward. Windows shows you how…

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  October 2, 2005

|~||~||~|Although digital cameras save you loads of time and offer instant gratification, the photos they produce can have flaws, similar of course to standard film cameras. Factors such as lighting and unsteady hands can cause a lot of photo imperfections, including focus issues, red-eye and both over and under exposure. Although such problems can be annoying at first, there are some great photo-editing packages on the market that can help you dump such eyesores in a matter of minutes. For the purpose of this workshop, we have chosen to talk you through Ulead's Photo Impact 10 (a trial version can be found at www.ulead.com). Get in focus Out-of-focus or blurry photos are very common and are mainly caused due to unsteady hands or a lack of distance from your subject. The best way to correct such pictures is by using a sharpening or focus tool. First open the image you wish to change and go to File Menu/Photo/Focus. You will now see six sample pictures showing different levels of sharpening. Select the desired sample and click OK. If you don't wish to use the default Quick Sample option then click Options. You can now choose between a dual or split view of your picture. Once you select the desired view of your image, drag the slider to the degree of sharpening you are most satisfied with and click OK. Retouching old pictures and bad scans The most effective tool when touching-up these is Photo Impact's 'Touch-up' tool. This can remove scratches, stains and tears by cloning a proper, clean area of the image and using the cloned section to cover them up. To access this tool right-click on the left panel, click Clone Tools/Touch-up tool. Now, press the 'Shift' key and click the left mouse button to define the starting point on the area you want to clone. After you have chosen your desired section, drag your mouse over the area you want to clean up. In addition to the touch-up tool, you can sharpen your picture to improve clarity by going to File Menu/ Photo/Sharpen. Depending on your picture's fade factor, you may want to try using the Colour Balance option. This tool takes all the colours in an image and adjusts them - based on two colours specified by the user - to remove fading from an image. To access this option, go to File Menu/ Photo/Color Balance. Once you click this, the application will show you eight preset colours to choose from. Depending on the colour you choose, the colour of your image will be biased accordingly. For instance, if you choose red, the program will add more red into the colour balance. Removing red-eye If you've ever taken pictures of people or animals you've probably encountered the infamous red-eye problem, which plagues both digital and standard film shots. Luckily, there is a way to say bye-bye to those evil eyes for good. To remove red-eye from your images, go to File Menu/ Photo/Remove Red Eye. You will now see a preview box with your image in it. Select the eye of the subject and then choose red as the eye colour you want to remove from the image and click OK. Adding special effects If you'd like to jazz up your photos or add a touch of personality, there are many cool special effects that can be applied. Some popular ones include adding funky text, inserting photo frames and adding motion blur. The best tool to use if you'd like to add special effects is Photo Impact's 'Easy Palette'. This contains tons of preset special effects that you can easily add to images. To add text to your image, go to the Easy Palette window (located to the right of the application) and click Image Enhancements followed by 'Text Style' gallery. A list of special effects will appear in the right window of your screen. The gallery also contains a number of font textures that can be applied to any image. To add these textures, double-click on the desired texture and the effect with be applied to your text. Also, if you want to wrap text around your image then go to Image Enhancements/ Wrap Gallery to find a selection of text formatting options including Bent Text, Wrap Text and Path Wrap. You can also personalise your pictures by adding one of Impact's funky frames. To add a frame, go to Image Enhancements/Frame Gallery. Next, double-click on your chosen frame. Another great effect is motion blur. This basically blurs an image to create a fast-moving effect. For instance, if you've taken a picture of a motorbike at a race track and want to make it look like it's moving, go to File Menu/ Photo/ Blur/Motion Blur. You will now see nine samples with different levels of blurring. Select the one you're most satisfied with and click OK. If you are not satisfied with some of the preset effects in Easy Palette, the software lets you modify them to suit your needs. To modify an enhancement, right-click on the effect and click the 'Modify Properties and Apply' tab. Now choose one of the five main styles displayed and click OK. Perfect prints If you've finished perfecting your pictures and wish to print them, check out our table below to see Windows-recommended resolutions and print sizes. As you can see, a high-end camera isn’t essential for quality photo prints. If you want to print a 4 x 6” photo and are using a 0.5 megapixel camera (or even a webcam), go to File Menu/ Adjust/Resize. In the New Image panel check the user-defined field. If you want a portrait layout set the width to 900 and height as 600 pixels. Next, hit the 'Resolution' panel, click the drop-down list and choose User-Defined. Now set the resolution to 150 ppi (pixels) and click OK.||**||

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