Getting your hands on a quality camera today has become easier and easier—and not just the smartphones touting amazing cameras. Full-time cameras, such as point and shoots and DSLRs, are becoming less expensive, allowing for the market of professional photographers to blend with regular consumers. The "prosumer" market is now in full force. If you have your hands on nifty camera equipment, check out these three elements of photography to make your images stand out.
1: Adjust exposure and brightness
Whether you're shooting in the rash of snow storms recently hitting New York and New England or you're out on the beach during spring break, you should make sure the elements of nature allow your image to be enjoyed by others. The dazzling white snow and big eye in the sky known as the sun can create havoc in the world of photography. Your images may come out super bright and almost painful to view.
During your editing process, first checking exposure and brightness is recommended. If the image is too bright, your photo editor should allow you to decrease the brightness level. Conversely, if the image is too dark, you should increase the brightness and exposure to a suitable level. Adjusting brightness and exposure allows you to easily move into the next two editing tips for making your images stand out. Here's an image that's too bright because it's overexposed, making it difficult to view the details of the fine aircraft.
2: Tweak the contrast
Contrast levels in photography allow your eyes to differentiate between the different colors and details within your image. With regard to black and white, a higher contrast level makes the black levels in the images look closer to a true black. This in turn makes the white levels stand out more. With regard to colors, having true black levels in your image can make and shape your image. It's amazing how your eyes handle contrast ratios. Higher contrast images with color stand out, as the black levels provide a baseline in tones and create more definition. Just don't increase or decrease contrast too much in your editor or you'll lose fine details, such as stitching on clothing or textures on dark surfaces.
3: Make saturation work for you
In the world of high-def and 4K displays, we're trained to notice vivid colors. This is where saturation comes into play. For example, increasing the saturation in your images can make the reds more red, the blues even more blue, and other colors of the spectrum more vivid. When someone is selling a red car, the photo is bound to have an increase in saturation to draw your attention to the beautiful red color. In my example below, the increased saturation is apparent in how vivid the blue sky is. Like the contrast element, saturation can be overdone. Too much saturation will make your images look like a low-quality cartoon.
With that said, there's more to consider
I mentioned three simple elements to help make your photographs stand out from the crowd. Of course, there's more to these practices, starting with your photo editor. Whatever editor you use is okay as long as you're comfortable with it and it handles the tasks you present it. There are plenty of paid and free photo editors available for your computer or mobile devices.
It should also be noted that these three elements you're adjusting can be done to your standards and taste. With photography, you're dealing with art. Sure, a photograph can be terribly bright, but the photographer may have purposely overexposed it to create a particular effect. Just use my best practices as a reference point toward creating your art.
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- Gallery: 5 online photo editors that can help with simple tweaks on the fly
- How to edit HDR image files on a Mac
What are your favorite photo editing tips? Share your advice with fellow TechRepublic members. And if you're on Twitter or Instagram, feel free to follow me and tag me with some of your favorite photos.
Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.