One of the main reasons people buy digital cameras is so they
can share their photos with others. Even if you are just going
to print your photos for yourself, you will want them to look
their best. Here are some tips on getting your images ready for
sharing or printing.
1. ORGANIZE YOUR PHOTOS
Delete the ones you don't like or those that are near duplicates
of others. No sense in clogging up your hard drive or CDs with
junk. Use a good photo management software program like ACDSEE
7, Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 or Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album 5 to
view, organize and name your images. These programs also let you
batch rename so you can give more descriptive file names to a
group of photos at the same time. You can add key words and tags
to make finding your photos easier. Be detailed in your photo
descriptions, not just 'John and Laurie.' You'll probably have
hundreds of photos of your kids and it will be harder to find
the one you're looking for. Better to say 'John and Laurie
waterskiing on Lake Powell, May 2004.'
2. BACK UP YOUR ORIGINALS
Mistakes can happen. It is a good idea to back up all your
images to a CD before you start editing or changing them. That
way you always have the original to go back to if you
accidentally save over an image or made changes to a photo that
you later decide you don't like. CDs hold lots of photos, making
it cheap insurance.
3. ROTATE IMAGES
Trying to look at a sideways photo is annoying. Use your photo
management or editing software to rotate photos as needed. And
if you have any images that are a little crooked, you can fix
that using your editing software. Most photo editors have an
automatic 'straighten' function, or you can manually rotate the
image a few degrees to straighten the horizon line.
4. REMOVE RED-EYE
Even with your digital camera's auto red-eye reduction function,
your subject's eyes may still have red-eye. Use your photo
editing software to remove it. Zoom in on the eyes and it will
be easier for you to correct the red-eye. I've tried a number of
red-eye correction tools and find that the one that comes with
ACDSEE 7's photo editor is among the best. It zeros in just on
the red eye and doesn't darken the surrounding eye area like
some other software does.
5. CROP YOUR PHOTOS
Crop out unnecessary or distracting backgrounds and focus in on
your subject. Most photo editing programs will keep the aspect
ratio, so when you draw a box around the area you want to focus
on it will crop it as 4x6 or whatever you have specified. That
way you won't end up with an odd size photo. Kodak EasyShare
Gallery also has a very good cropping tool for maintaining the
proper print size. It comes with its free photo editor.
6. ADJUST LIGHTING AND CONTRAST
Some of your photos may have come out washed out or too dark.
You can automatically adjust the color, brightness and contrast
of your photos. The better programs like Photoshop Album 2.0,
Jasc and ACDSEE also have tools for making manual adjustments
for fine-tuning. Be careful not to overdo it, though, or your
picture could come out grainy.
7. PREPARE TO SHARE
There are a number of ways to share your images. Several
programs, like Roxio Photo Suite 7, ACDSEE7, Photoshop Album and
Paint Shop Photo Album allow you to create digital photo albums
or slide shows, complete with music, transitions and captions.
You can burn them to CD or resize and optimize for emailing
directly from the program.
Online photo services such as PhotoWorks, Shutterfly, Snapfish
and Kodak EasyShare Gallery also let you share your photos on
line, for free. You simply upload your images to their server
into your own photo albums and add captions if you wish. Then
email your friends with a link to your albums. With most of the
online services your photos stay on their servers as long as you
have an account with them, for free. Signing up for an account
is free, you only pay for photos you choose to purchase.
For hardcore photo sharers, there are also dedicated photo
sharing applications such as PiXPO v1.5.0, which lets you share
photos right off your hard drive. This is a peer to peer
software application that allows you to connect directly with
your friends and family to share and view pictures online with
no uploads. Unlike traditional photo sharing services, you have
unlimited storage and you don't have to upload your photos to a
distant server or wait for friends to log onto some photo
sharing site. The application is easy to install and use and
it's inexpensive, around $30. PC Magazine rated it an Editor's
Choice in their January 3, 2005 issue.
GETTING YOUR PHOTOS READY FOR SHARING