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Creating & Editing Digital Photos

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<< Photo Repair & Restoration

If you have plans to use your newly-edited digital photos in a scrapbook, slideshow, or other digital project, then you may wish to jazz them up with colorization, captions, air brushing, or vignettes.

Enhancement Tips for Digital Photos

1) Colorization - Have you ever wondered how your 19th century great, great-grandfather may have looked in color? Or perhaps you want to see how that old black & white photo would look with a few touches of color - a pink bow here and a blue dress there. If your photo-editor is fairly full-featured, it's easy to find out!

  • Begin with a black & white photo.
  • Using a selection tool (lasso), select an area of the image that you wish to add color to. The Magic Wand can also be used for this step, but requires a bit of technical knowledge and practice to use with black & white photos.

  • Once the area is selected, go to the tint or color-balance controls and alter the color level values. Experiment until you get the desired effect.

  • Repeat these steps for each area of the picture you wish to colorize.
Colorizing photos can get a lot more fancy than what we've detailed above, with techniques such as channel-splitting and transparent layers, plus tips for using the Magic Wand for selecting photo areas. For more details, with examples:
Digital Photo Tips & Techniques

2) Adding Captions - If you've spent any time going through an ancestor's collection of largely unlabeled photos, you'll understand why I say that you owe it to your descendants (and other relatives) to properly label all of your digital photos. Many photo-editors offer a "caption" option which allows you to actually "embed" a caption within the header of JPEG or TIFF format files (known as the ITPC standard), allowing it to be transferred directly with the picture, and be read by the majority of graphics software programs. Other photo info that can be embedded with this method includes keywords, copyright info, and URL data. Most of this info, with the exception of the caption in some photo software, is not displayed with the photo, but is stored with the photo and can be accessed under the photo's properties by almost any user. If your photo editing software supports this feature, it can usually be found under "Add Caption" or "File -> Info." Check your help file for details.

3) Creating Vignettes - Many old photos have soft-edged borders, called vignettes. If your photos don't, it's an easy effect to add. The classic vignette shape is an oval, but you can get creative and use other shapes such as rectangles, hearts, and stars. Or you can create a free-hand vignette, following the irregular outline of the subject - as in a portrait.

  • Select an image with plenty of background around the subject. You need this to allow room for effective fading.

  • Use the selection tool in the shape of your choice (rectangular, oval, etc.), adding the "feather" option to feather the edges of your selection by 20 to 40 pixels (experiment to find the amount of fading which looks best for your photo). Then drag out the selection until you encompass the area you want to start the blend. The line at the edge of your selection will eventually be at the midway point of your faded edges (in other words, pixels on both sides of the line you've created will be "feathered"). Use can also use the lasso selection tool if you wish to create an irregular border.

  • Under the selection menu choose "Invert." This will move the selected area to the background (the part you wish to remove). Then select "delete" to cut this remaining background from the picture.

Some photo-editing programs offer an easy one-click option for adding vignette borders, as well as other fancy frames and borders.

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