Ready For A Quick Crop and Chop?

I’m busy editing photographs from the trip we just finished in our motor home out West. While I’m working on the edits, I remembered that I sent out quite a few snaps on the fly as we were motoring along. They usually needed a bit of cropping and/or color correction. Here’s how to do some quick editing when you don’t have the time or interest in doing a more elaborate fix.

Actually the simple editing program that comes with the Windows operating system conforms to my most important rule when it comes to photography… keep it simple. So if you are running Windows software on your computer, try a few of these suggestions.

Start by opening up Pictures and find the folder with the photos in it you want to edit. Before you go any further, save the photos to a CD or media stick.

Ok good. Now you have your originals backed up. It’s important, because every time you edit a file you are throwing away pixels…do this three or four times and you have significantly reduced the original file size. That’s ok for online applications, but if you decide to make a quality print, you will have degraded the image to the point where it will look like chicken soup. We’re photographers…not cooks!

Here’s one I like. This is a grab shot of a wonderfully colorful potted garden behind a motor home. It needs cropping.

I start by clicking on the photo to select it. Then I look at the menu bar across the top. I have a bunch of choices. I’m going to click on FIX.

Now the photo is enlarged, and on the far right I have five options.  I’m going to choose CROP.

The crop box pops up in the middle of the photo. I can pull the corners of the box, plus the top and bottom (not all at once!) with my curser to change the crop and make it perfect. Experimenting with this option is fun! I can play with it until I’m happy with the result.

When I’m done, I click on APPLY, and voila! The photo now fills the screen. If I don’t like it, I click the UNDO arrow at the bottom right and try again.

When you crop, be sure to cut out anything that doesn’t contribute to the final idea. In this case, I cropped down to get rid of the extraneous information at the top and left side.

Much better, and it only took me a few minutes to do it. I can play with it a bit more. If I select the ADJUST COLOR button on the right, I can try the three options that pop up. When I toggle each button to the right and left, the colors change. For this image, I decided to add a bit more saturation. The choices here are individual.

Now I’m done. I might have added too much saturation, but I can change it later if I decide to. For now, I go back to the choices at the top of the photo and click on FILE. I scroll down to MAKE A COPY and when the box pops up with the file name, I change the name of the file and click save. Now I have the new version saved along with the original.

Here’s another one I decided to edit. I was happy with the in camera crop. If you make it a habit to crop out as much as you can when you take the photo, you will have a lot less work to do later.

So I was ok with the crop on this one, but the color needed some help. The outside light was flat when I took the photo, but when I chose ADJUST COLOR and worked with the saturation I was able to fix that. This time, I was more careful to add just a bit more saturation, so the differences are fairly subtle.

Easy right?

It bears repeating, that every time you manipulate your photographs in an editing program, you reduce the quality of the final output. If you are like me and just interested in using the above photos online, you are in luck. The original files are too large for the web anyway. However, if you want to make large prints, then you are probably not interested in easy. Click on your Photoshop program and go to work.

Happy Fourth of July!