At the Purcari Winery in the village of Purcari, Moldova. Photo taken December 7, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Photo editing, and how we do it

Most of you know that we change our header photo every day. When we're not traveling, we choose a photo from past travels. But when we are traveling (soon!) we strive to take a fabulous photo to display for you every single day.

But not every photo we take turns out "fabulous". In fact, more often than not, every photo we take requires some kind of editing. Here's how we try and change a not so great photo to one that is suitable for display.

I searched through our archives for a suitable example, and came across a photo that Ruth took when we were hiking in a canyon in Namibia in November of 2013.

It sure was hot that day...39C (102F)! This is the photo as it came from the camera.

Most of the time, if the framing is suitable, we will make the photo into a widescreen format since most computer screens are now made that way. You could also set your camera to take the photo in widescreen format, but then you are limited. Much better to take the full frame photo and then crop it to widescreen after the fact.

So the first thing we do is crop the photo to 16 x 9 format. Now it is acceptable for use as a header photo, plus if you click on the photo to make it full screen (try it now with both the photo above and below!) the cropped photo will take up your entire screen the way your computer was designed to show it to you.


Very few cameras will take perfect photos with regards to color and lighting. So it's easy to adjust these things.

There are a ton of photo editing software programs available. I've tried some of the more expensive ones like Photoshop, but I actually find them too complicated. Plus, I'm not trying to adjust the photo composition itself...I'm simply trying to make the photo as it appeared in real time when I took it.

Right now, I'm simply using the editing software that comes free with my version of Windows Photo Gallery.

Next, I want to adjust the lighting. In this particular case, I'm going to reduce the brightness of the sky, and enhance the brightness in the shadow areas.

There. That's better.

The last thing I do is to make a slight adjustment to the color saturation. This photo doesn't need much, and I find that this is the one adjustment that some people apply too much to. You still want the photo to look natural, and with too much saturation it is not natural.

The finished product.

Also, I make sure that I post a large enough format to our photos so that you can actually get a full screen image if the reader wants it. I find it annoying when other bloggers post a tiny photo and when you click on it, you get a new page with the same tiny photo on it. Sometimes it's nice to get more detail, or simply a full screen view of something and it drives me crazy when that's not available.

Also, I know how much better our photos could be with the use of an expensive camera and interchangeable lenses. But that is a tradeoff I don't wish to pursue. We're all about lightweight travel and trying to blend in. No need to stand out like a sore thumb with thousands of dollars of camera gear, plus having to lug it all around.

I love the flexibility of our Nikon P520, and I think that the compact size and water resistance of our new Fuji Finepix XP80 will come in handy for our adventures this winter. And if it breaks or gets stolen it won't be a huge setback.

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Oh...and thanks to the reader who bought a new RV satellite system yesterday!!

And in Canada, a good deal on a nice rechargeable chainsaw...





24 comments:

  1. I'm so bad. I have zero patience for photo editing. I'm pretty much a WYSISYG kind of shooter. Probably should mend my ways.

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    1. You sound like me Bob! Fortunately Kevin has a very good eye when taking pictures and other than cropping some, he really doesn't spend too much time on them, just enough to make them look natural, he never removes objects or plays with the actual colours of the photo.

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  2. My pocket camera takes all pictures and they turn out pretty good, plus like yours is waterproof, shock proof and dust proof. My i-photo does pretty good editing but I like the free download of Picasa it is easy to use and more flexible as well.

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    1. There are so many fee editing programs out there, so as long as you find one that you are happy with and it's free then that is all that matters.

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  3. I edit many of my pictures with Picasa 3 and MS photo editor. In the good old days photographers use to "edit" their pictures as they processed them, as well.

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    1. Yes, but they couldn't edit them as well or as quickly as they can now and there are also so many more options now then there ever used to be. I love the fact that we don't have to go out an by film all the time, and then find out that half the photos on the roll were no good.

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  4. Great job! Editing is the most important part of shooting pictures, especially if you're going to share them. I would never use Photoshop because of the expense and how complicated it is. There are many great programs for free, like Gimp and Snapseed.

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    1. Thanks annjeanbs! Yep, there are so many free editing programs out there we can't understand why anyone would pay for one.

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  5. Unless one is planning to make a living selling their photos one does not need an expensive complicated photo program. I'm not into all that fancy stuff like shifting heads onto other bodies & like you it's important to simply have the photo as close to natural as possible. For anyone taking any kind of photos a photo editing program is not only a must but it is the photographers best friend. I think for most of us we try to put our best foot forward by taking pride in what we photograph & what we write. Just as I would not publish foul language in my post I would also not publish crappy photos. I think we not only owe that to ourselves but we owe that to all the fine folks reading our blogs as well............

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  6. Your pictures are getting better and better, especially with your recently upgraded cameras. I use picmonkey.com. Their free version is extremely easy to use and you can add words, crop, resize, lighten, lots of options. You upload a photo (*they don't save them, it is only there for purpose of editing), make your changes and then re-save it to your computer. You can either save over your existing photo or rename it and make a different copy of it.

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    1. Thanks Cheapchick! Maybe they just seem like they are getting better because we are getting so much more practice now. ;-)

      Kevin used to use a program similar to picmonkey until he got his new computer and the Windows Photo Gallery was the Windows 8 program opposed to Vista which only gave you the basic options of photo editing, it wouldn't even let him straighten a photo. Now he finds it easier than having to upload the picture and fiddle with it, whereas with Windows Photo Gallery he is able to start editing right away. As long as it is free and you are happy with the program you have and it gives you the results that you want, then that is all that matters. :-)

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  7. I used to have a simple Photoshop process worked out, three procedures that gave me a good looking photo in about two minutes. It was pretty foolproof but I have forgotten mow. Instead, I discovered Picasa and it's 'Feeling Lucky' button that gave just about the same result. When I bought my new camera I found this 'Feeling Lucky' button did nothing, the Panasonic editing software must be identical to Picasa's. Now I do a little tweaking with the shadows, highlights and brightness adjustments in Picasa. Every photo needs something.

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    1. Kevin used to use a program that had a feature similar to Picasa's 'Feeling Lucky' button but now with the new Windows 8 system he is very happy with the Windows Photo Gallery program to tweak our pictures and much like you it is just for the lighting and cropping. He doesn't try to change the picture itself or remove anything from the picture, he likes to keep it nice and simple, as you said almost every photo needs something.

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  8. With you all the way both on not wanting the weight or expense of heavy equipment and on the steps I use if I want to use a photo that didn't turn out quite right. Nice post.

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    1. Thanks Sherry! We like to keep things as simple and easy as possible. :-)

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  9. I use Windows Live Photo Gallery, it came with my laptop software. It does pretty good for me. Easy to clean things up, get rid of cables, unwanted items, color, exposure and cropping. It's fun.

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    1. Yep, we are totally happy with it as well. Kevin has never tried using any to the features that remove cables or unwanted items, so far he uses it for cropping, straightening and for lighting only. It's amazing the things these programs can do though!

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  10. What readers don't know is that it took Kevin only two minutes to create Ruth's ski pic from Ruth's canyon pic. He simply replaced the rocks with trees and added a little snow. But the really amazing thing is that Ruth took both pix!

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  11. Besides the writing, the photos are a main draw for me when choosing blogs to read. I enjoy your writing style, the nice, easy to read (large) font with a background color that doesn't make my eyes go crossed, and your pictures are amazing! You have found a fairly simple, but awesome way to share them & I agree about the size. It's hard to get a feel for a place (esp landscape pics) if they are small. Of the handful of blogs I read, your photos are really outstanding. Thanks for sharing all your tips.

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    1. Thank you for those wonder words of encouragement Lori. Kevin also has a problem trying to read some blogs with certain background colours because like you he finds it really hard on his eyes to read it. Again, he likes to try and keep things simple and that includes the blog with his writing and his pictures.

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  12. The header photo is amazing.

    I think color saturation is so important. Even thought the camera can never capture exactly what our eye sees, color saturation does help bring the photo more to life.

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    1. Thank you Paul and Marsha!

      Yes, colour saturation is definitely a big part of the picture but it is also one that many people tend to overdo and then the photo doesn't look natural. I think when done properly and can really make the picture pop out at you and make the colours really look crisp.

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