We love taking photos with our mobile. We take advantage of almost any excuse to take photos of everything, and of course, to show them to the world. But not all of us have the photography skills necessary to take good snapshots (and we are not talking about keeping a steady hand). It is common for mobile phones to include filters to increase the quality and attractiveness of the original image, but what do we do with the photos we took with previous phones or cameras, and that we save on the computer? There is no choice but to go to photo retouching programs. Talking about image editing is talking about Photoshop and GIMP , but let's not be lazy , because improving a photo is much easier than it seems . Facebook and Instagram may already shake.
Improve the quality of an image with Photoshop
Most commonly, many of the photos we save have poor color and fairly flat contrast, are somewhat shaky or contain little light. When it comes to enhancing a photo with Photoshop, we will focus on these aspects to give the image more life. The first thing is to import the photo that we want to retouch. We can open it from Photoshop itself, or by right clicking on the image and going to the Open with… option .
Automatic adjustments are your friends ...
Image treatment and retouching programs work with layers. In this way, all the operations we do are compartmentalized separately, and we always have the option of returning to the original photo. When you open the image, it is automatically placed on the first layer, called Background . Now duplicate the layer by right - clicking on it or by pressing Ctrl + J . We will work on this duplicated layer, Layer 1 .
There is an easy and fast option to improve the photo without complicating our lives too much. It is something similar to the touch-up tools of the mobile. Within the Image section , we find the automatic equalization tools for tone, color and contrast . We make sure Layer 1 is selected, and we test.
… But improving a photo by hand is always better
Photoshop's automatic adjustments are powerful. However, we can increase the quality of the photo even more if we do it by hand .
When taking a photo with a non-professional camera, it is normal for the edges and outlines of the image to appear fuzzy. In this case, it is convenient to increase the focus. To do this, we go to the toolbar and click Filter> Focus> Unsharp Mask . A preview window will open to see how sharpening is applied. In the Quantity field we enter a mask value that will depend on the quality and resolution of the image. We assign a value between 10% and 40%, for a more subdued or more aggressive approach. We set the Radius field to 20, and Threshold we left it to zero.
The image will be in better focus and will gain a bit of brightness and contrast. You can modify the parameters to taste, but you have to be careful. Applying too much unsharp mask will introduce a lot of noise (grainy image) in areas with higher contrast.
The colors come to life
The next thing we are going to do is go to Filter> Other> High Pass . Inside the Radius field , we set 40.0. After pressing OK, we go to the drop-down menu of layer modes, located just above the list of layers. We open the drop-down and change from Normal (layer mode by default) to Soft Light . The increase in brightness, definition and quality in the image is now remarkable . We can compare with the original image by clicking on the eye-shaped icon to hide or show Layer 1.
This last operation could generate a light halo around the photographed objects. It is usually quite attractive, but we may not like the result. In that case, let's try modifying the intensity of the colors . We go to Image> Adjustments> Curves . We add contrast to the image by raising the top of the curve and lowering the bottom. The steeper the curve, the more contrast is added, which could be too aggressive. Finally, we click on Image> Adjustments> Hue / Saturation . We raise the saturation to taste (the ideal is two or three points), and click OK .
Finally, we save our photo with the Export option . We choose the format (our old friend JPG, for example), assign a name and that's it.
Improve the quality of an image with GIMP
If you don't have the luck (or money) to own a Photoshop license, there is the option of GIMP ( GNU Image Manipulation Program ). Don't be fooled by its status as a free and free program. In expert hands, GIMP is capable of delivering impressive, professional-quality results . Plus, it's not some memory-gobbling behemoth like Adobe software. GIMP is a powerful program, but very light. Advantages of free software.
Generally speaking, GIMP is very similar to Photoshop. The tools are very similar to each other, and are sometimes even called the same way. For this reason, it is perfectly possible to apply in GIMP the procedure to improve photos that we have followed with Photoshop . However, there are things that work much better in the GNU Project software.
GIMP has its own weapons to improve the quality of a photo
To begin, we open the image that we want to beautify with GIMP. We duplicate the background layer with the right mouse button, and selecting Duplicate Layer . Next, we improve the focus. Look here for the Blur Mask , rather than Photoshop's unsharp mask. It is found in Filters> Enhance> Unsharp Mask . By applying the default values, we will notice an improvement in the contours. You can hurry more by trying variations, but remember: don't go crazy. Too much mask introduces a lot of noise in the photo.
Now we go to the Colors menu , and click on Levels . First, click on Auto . In this way, the color levels are adjusted automatically , but it is possible to improve the quality of the photo even more. We click on the eyedropper on the left, and choose the blackest or darkest point that we can find in the photo. We repeat the operation with the eyedropper on the right, but now we will look for the whitest or lightest point in the photo. In this way, we are defining the color tones in our image, so that GIMP optimizes the adjustment work.
A good fit enhances the beauty of the photo
Time to equalize the color. To do this, we open Colors> Auto> Equalize . If the contrast shoots up or the colors get a little weird, don't let the alarms go off . We open the drop-down menu that is above the list of layers, and we change the blending mode from Normal to Soft Clarity . Then, we modify the Opacity of the layer. To do this, we slide the marker until we obtain the result that we like the most. If the equalization had given us a high contrast, we set it to 30-35%. If the contrast is less pronounced, we set the opacity at 70-75%. We can check the before and after of our work by clicking on the eye icon, to hide or reveal the duplicated layer.
We can still play with the levels a bit more. We go, of course, to Colors> Brightness and contrast . Here we can alter the brightness and contrast values numerically, in the form of levels or as a curve. Each area of the curve must be considered according to the level of shading reflected in the lower bar. The further to the left, we will act on the darker tones, and the further to the right, on the lighter ones. It should be remembered that as we make the curve steeper, we introduce more contrast . Therefore, more noise.
We finish our photo retouching by going to File> Export . We select the JPG, PNG format or the one that suits us best, and that's it. Life has returned to our landscape .
Improve the quality of a photo on the Internet
Are you still afraid of image editing programs, but you still have photos on your computer that you want to make more beautiful? No problem, there are web solutions that allow you to increase the quality of your memories. The main advantage is that you only need a browser like Firefox or Chrome to bring your photos to life . However, the main drawback is that the most powerful effects and filters are usually under a premium program. If you want to enjoy all the benefits, you have no choice but to go to the cashier. Fortunately, the fees are very affordable.
Fotor is a 100% online photo design and image editor. The way of working is very intuitive, and Fotor guides the steps with a clear tutorial. It has an extraordinary advantage, and that is that it works with HTML5. You just have to upload a photo from your computer, and explore in the different tabs. Basic options control levels of color, hue or saturation, rotate or crop the photo, create a vignette, and more. Within "Effects", we find the different Fotor filters to rejuvenate (or age) our images . In the case of portraits and photos of people, you have to work with the "Beauty" tab.
Unfortunately, the free options are very limited . All in all, it is quite possible that you will find a filter that fits what you are looking for.
Pixlr's name sounds familiar to you, right? Well, it has a web version, Pixlr Express. It does not work in HTML5 like Fotor (too bad), and on top of that it is in English. But, in return, it grants more freedom. We can work with photos saved on our PC, and also with those that we take at that moment through the webcam .
Pixlr Express allows us to carry out basic operations with our photos directly from the web browser. Crop, rotate, adjust brightness and contrast, add text, join multiple images, assign a background, and more. The "Effect" button reveals a wide variety of tools to enhance the beauty of our photographs , and even create color compositions worthy of Andy Warhol himself.
Improving the quality of the photos we took in its day is a matter of a couple of clicks, and the results are obvious. Lose your fear of image editing programs. If you're struggling with Adobe Photoshop (you or your wallet), discover the power of free software with GIMP. Or go to the Internet, that from Firefox you can do everything. You no longer have an excuse to re-upload a nondescript gray photo to Facebook.