Photo manipulation has become so commonplace it is unlikely that any photo you will see in print or on the Internet has not been edited in some way by a photo editing program. With the advent of digital cameras, film photography has all but disappeared except for professional photographers and so most photographs end up either stored in the camera or downloaded to a computer. If you own a recently purchased camera, you may be surprised, if you read the manual, to find out that the camera has software to edit photos right on the camera. But if you want to do some more extensive editing you will need to use a program. There are several articles here on TechTips about photo editing and the software available. Search for “photo editing” and you will find several articles.
The purpose of this post is to illustrate special effects and comment on some of the effects. Most of these effects are available from free photo editing programs, but you may wish to use a program such as Adobe Photo Elements 10. If you need to do serious editing, involving more than selection styles from a menu, you may wish to investigate a high-end professional level program such as Adobe Photoshop. You can also see from the TechTips articles mentioned above that there are many other options.
Important Preliminary Note
The first ironclad rule of photo editing is NEVER edit your original photo. Always make a copy of the photo before you make any changes. If you make changes to the original, you can usually never go back to the unaltered original state. If you use in-camera editing software, what you have in the camera is altered for all time and you may not be able to revert to the original.
Before you start to edit any photo, make a digital copy for editing and save the copy in a different folder or location on your computer. Make sure you rename the copy as a copy so that you will not get confused as to which image you are editing.
The photo at the beginning of this post is what we will consider to be the original. However, that photo has already been manipulated a number of times. The original photo was downloaded as a Camera Raw image, capturing all of the information from the camera. This image is much too large to use for an Internet post and the color, white balance and other details of the photo were adjusted and then the photo was saved as a JPEG image. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of this. Suffice it to say that you will be working with whatever image format is saved to your computer. For a more complete explanation, refer to the TechTips editing posts referenced above.
Also, special effects changes the appearance of the photo, not the details. Photo editing is an entirely different topic.
Black and White
Most of these special effects can be selected from a menu in programs such as Adobe Elements 10. Here is the same photo above changed to a gray scale or black and white image:
The black and white or grayscale image is created by discarding the color information in the original. By comparing the two images, you can tell the essential information conveyed by the original are preserved in the grayscale image. Although you could argue that the original with color gave a more accurate depiction of the oxen, if your purpose in using the picture was merely to illustrate oxen at work pulling a wagon, then the grayscale is sufficient. You may also be using the photo in a publication that does not include color. The grayscale image will give you a better idea of the way your publication will look in print.
Many older photographs had a color cast known as sepia. This tone was not something that the original photographers attempted to reproduce, it was an accident of the production and film of the time. But sepia tones have come to represent “old time” photographs, so in showing something like an ox cart, you may wish to use a sepia tone to make the photo appear “old time” to many viewers. Here is an example of the photo in sepia. Remember in programs like Photoshop Elements 10, these special effects may involve several steps but there is a step-by-step guided editing process built into the program.
Some of the special effects built into these programs can completely change the aspect of the photograph. Here is one effect that creates as line drawing of the original photo:
One more example of special effects is the Old Photo effect. This is only a small sample of the effects that you can create with a photo editing program. But remember, never use your original photo, always make a copy for archive purposes. Once the file is saved, all of these effects are irreversible and there is no way to return to your original. But have fun with the copies.