Did you know that every photo on my blog has been tweaked? Yep, every single one! I'm never entirely satisfied with a photo until I've done a bit of creative retouching. To do that, I use photo editing software. Most digital cameras come with their own editing program, but I prefer Adobe Photoshop.
Although it's a powerful application that can perform complex retouching, I'm a Photoshop novice so I use it for very basic things like improving color balance, saturation and sharpness. Sometimes I need to clean up spots and imperfections. Often my pictures need a little more contrast and brightness. And I especially like the burn and dodge tool as it reminds me of my college days developing prints in the darkroom. Photoshop lets me do all of these improvements easily.
To enhance my image, I go in and noodle with the saturation, contrast and brightness. Photoshop has a tool called "Curves" which will adjust many of these elements all at once. I play around and have some fun until my photo looks just right to me. Then the very last thing I do when retouching is to apply the "Unsharp Mask" filter which creates the illusion of a more focused image.
I do what I can to enrich a photo's best aspects. My ultimate goal is to capture the feeling of the original subject.
Even if you don't have Photoshop, your photo editing software should allow you to perform most of these basic functions. Just be sure to work on a duplicate of your original shot. There's no need to be afraid to play around with retouching. It really can be fun.
Have you enjoyed my Photography 101 series? I do hope it has inspired you to make your digital photos all they can be.