Whether you’re a blogger looking to knock your next review or sponsored post out of the park or you want your personal photos to look nice, most pictures need at least a little tweaking. Even people who are experienced in the manual mode of their DSLR still need to edit photos.
I have used several photo editing programs, both online programs like PicMonkey and software like Lightroom 5, but most of my editing is done in a free downloadable program called PhotoScape. I’ve used PhotoScape for years and continue to do so even though I now own Lightroom 5 because it’s easy to use, produces nice results, and it’s free. While I like PicMonkey for making graphics, I prefer PhotoScape for everyday editing since you don’t have to upload photos to it, which is something that gets very tedious if you’re editing multiple photos.
PhotoScape is available for both Mac and Windows. This tutorial is for PhotoScape X for Mac 1.7, but I have used both versions and while they look different, the method is the same for both. The main difference is that the Mac version has a brush tool for lightening and deepening while the Windows version has an option to select.
Now, without further ado, this is how I edit photos with PhotoScape.
Related: How to take better blog photos
How to edit photos with PhotoScape
First, you need to take your photo in good light. No amount of post-processing can make up for bad lighting. This photo was taken on a table next to a big window on the western side of the house in mid-afternoon. Not bad, but it could be better.
Find the folder where the photo is saved and open it in PhotoScape.
- Adjust the white balance (more on that next)
- Enhance contrast (this adjusts the color slightly and makes your image a bit sharper)
- Auto level will tweak the colors even more and make it more balanced (sometimes it will leave a strange coloration on your photo. If it does, undo it).
- Auto contrast will also clean up the photo a bit.
To me, white balance is the most important step to making your photo pop. If a photo is yellowish or bluish, that’s an imbalance in your white balance. When you click on white balance you will see a dropper tool. Take that dropper to the whitest thing in your photo and click it. That will fix your white balance.
*Not all whites are the same and sometimes you will have to reset it and move it to other white areas on the photo to get a nice coloration.
Next, go to the brush tab. Here is where I lighten and deepen my photos. I also use defocus from time to time to blur out brand names and other things (like my files on the left-hand side of these photos). I usually run the brightening brush over my picture twice, but it depends on the amount of natural light already in the photo how many times I will need to use it.
After brightening my photo, I then use the deepening brush to make the colors pop even more.
If your photo is a bit crooked, PhotoScape has a straightening tool that is really great. I have a bad habit of taking crooked photos, so this tool is my favorite. You just move the slider on the bottom from side to side until the photo is the way you want it.
Next, I crop out anything that I feel is unnecessary. I use the 4×6 size for both vertical and horizontal photos that will be used in a blog post and I use the 1×1 square for my featured photo.
After the photo is edited and cropped, I size it down so that the files aren’t so huge. For vertical photos, I resize it down to 1280 and 1000 for horizontal photos. These are the sizes that fit best on my blog, yours may vary.
And that’s it! Now I have turned a decent photo into a better one with a few simple steps.
Related: Ice cream cupcakes
Here are some more before and after examples:
Related: Behind the scenes of a blog post
Download PhotoScape here: Mac or Windows. Also, for adding text and overlays, PicMonkey is a lot of fun. I have the paid version and think it’s well worth it for bloggers, but the free version is fine, too.