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Skill Level Beginner
Many times the photos you shoot might not come out as good looking as you'd hoped. Maybe the picture is a little too dark or bright, maybe some stranger is walking through the background or maybe there's a slight color tint to the photo. In this movie, I'm going to show you some basic image editing techniques you can apply in Windows Live Photo Gallery. Again, you'll find many similar tools available in other image editing programs in case you're not using Photo Gallery. But here in Photo Gallery, start by selecting the image you want to edit and then click the Fix button. That isolates the image and blows it up, so you can see it while you're working on it.
There are several things you can do here all listed on the right side of the screen. We're going to skip the first three items for now, and start by taking a look at Straighten photo and work our way down. We will get back to those first three items in just a moment. So Straighten photo is for those times when the picture you shot is maybe a little or a lot crooked. For instance, the pagoda in this photo looks a little bit crooked to me so I'm going to click Straighten photo and watch what happens. That places a grid over my photo and Photo Gallery itself actually rotated the photo a bit. It detected the crookedness and tried to fix it.
If you think it did a good job, you can just leave it as is or you can use the slider here to zoom and rotate the photo until it looks straight to you. When it looks good, you can click Straighten photo again to hide the grid and close the tool. Next, we have Crop photo. The Crop tool is nice when you want to crop out something in the background of your photo or when you want to print your photo to a specific size of piece of paper. Just click Crop photo. That gives you a crop area, which you can move around or resize. Anything outside of this area will be cropped out.
Now this is nice if there's somebody walking through the background of your picture that you want to get rid of or if you're trying to print to a specific size of photo paper, you can come onto the Proportion menu, and choose the right size. Maybe I'm printing to a 4x6 piece of photo paper. By selecting a proportion that keeps your crop area in proportion as you make it larger and smaller. If you're printing a vertical picture, you can click Rotate Frame to have a vertical crop area, but in this case, I'm going to keep mine horizontal.
Let's position that and resize it. Once you're happy with your crop area, click Apply. There it is. Next, we have Adjust detail, which has two features. Let me go ahead and click on that. We have Sharpen and Reduce Noise. Whether these do anything for you really depends on the photo you're working on. Now, Sharpen doesn't really sharpen your photo in the sense that you can make a blurry out of focus shot clearer. What it does is increase the contrast of the pixels that make up your image, making the image look a little more detailed.
Now, when you choose the Adjust detail shot, Photo Gallery zooms in on the picture, so you can see the details, but I'm just going to zoom back out using the slider, so I can see the whole thing a little bit better. So just try dragging the Sharpen slider to the right to see if it improves your image. There's really no rule for this. Just use your own eyes and see if you like the results. That's probably too far. We add a touch of sharpening right there. Now, the Reduce Noise slider is used when you have a particularly grainy photo. It basically blurs your photo, making it look a bit smoother.
To reduce the noise, click Analyze. Photo Gallery will take a look at your photo, try to determine what's considered noise and smooth it out. You might have noticed that the background here smoothed out a little bit. You can see how far the slider is. if you don't like how much you'd applied, you can drag it back. Now incidentally, this is probably a good time to mention the Undo button at the bottom of the pane. If you don't like the effects of the change, click Undo to remove the last edit you made. What's also cool about this is you can click the arrow next to Undo and see a list of the last ten changes you made.
Then you can selectively undo them. So if you didn't like the third change you made, maybe I didn't like the Sharpen effect, you can select this to undo just that particular edit, but also leave the edits you made before and after it. Be aware though that you can only undo the last ten changes you made. Anything made before that is permanent as each change is automatically saved when you make your selection. Now you do have the option of reverting back to the original photo, but that will wipe out all of the changes you made and you have to start editing your photo from scratch again. We'll take a look at that in a little while. Okay, the next option here is Fix red eye, which is great for photos of people in which the flash from the camera has caused their pupils to become red.
I don't have any people in this photo, but basically all you do is select the Fix Red Eye tool and then draw a box around the red pupils in your photos to have Photo Gallery automatically fix them. The last item here is Black and white effects. They're just for converting color photos to various levels of black and white, which you can click on, or to a sepia or sort of a bluish cast tone, if you want to make it look like an old photo. There's really not much to do here except click on a few of these and see what they do. Okay, I'm going to click the arrow next to Undo and choose Undo All to take away all the changes I've made to this photo.
Now, let's look at the three items at the top of the list. The Adjust Color option lets you play with the Color temperature, Tint and Saturation. Color temperature is for making your photo cooler by dragging the slider to the left, which adds sort of a bluish cast to it, or make it warmer by dragging the slider to the right, which adds a reddish orange cast to it. Tint is useful if your photo has a bit of a colorcast to it. Dragging to the right adds a little bit more red or a lot more red, and dragging to the left adds a little more green or a lot more green.
I think this photo could stand a little bit more green to bring out the trees a little bit more, but I don't want to drag it so far that the sky starts turning green. Just a little bit of green there. And Saturation is for determining how intense the colors in your photo are. All the way to the right is very intense, and all the way to the left drains all the color out of your photo entirely. So I usually drag a little bit to the right just to make the colors pop a little bit more. Next, we have Adjust exposure.
You can use Brightness to make the entire photo lighter or darker. Contrast increases or decreases the difference between the light and dark areas of your photos. Frankly, I'm not a fan of either of these two tools because I find the results are rarely helpful to the photo, so I tend not to touch them too much. Now, Shadows and Highlights work a little bit better for me most times. Shadows tries to bring out the details that might be lost in the darker parts of your photo. See that? Again, you probably don't want to drag to extremes.
Highlights brings out the details in brighter parts. For example, the sky in this photo is pretty overexposed, but dragging to the left brings out some of those clouds that we couldn't see as well initially. There's also a Histogram here, which is a little more of an advanced tool, but in a nutshell, you drag the dark and light sliders left to right to try to fix the overall exposure of your image. I'll let you play around with that on your own. All right! I'm going to click the arrow next to Undo again and Undo all once more.
Let's take it back to its original look. That way I can show you the Auto Adjust button. True to its name, Auto Adjust analyzes your photo and applies all the changes it thinks are required with just one click. So I'll go ahead and click that. The nice thing here is you can see exactly what it did because a checkmark appears next to any of the editing tools it used. So you can see that Adjust exposure was used, go ahead and close that, and it also straightened the photo. This is a nice way to learn how to fix photos yourself too. Just click Auto adjust and then examine what it did. In this case, I'll look in Adjust exposure, and it looks like it moved a couple of these sliders around. But if you aren't satisfied with everything it did, you can still come in here and then make your own adjustments as necessary.
Okay, so those are the editing tools found in Photo Gallery. When you're done in here, click back to Gallery. Photo Gallery reminds me that my edits were saved, but that I can still undo my changes by clicking Revert. I'll click OK. Now, that means that if I ever change my mind about the photo, I can select it again, click Fix, and then click Revert. You can see the Undo button currently is Revert right now. Photo Gallery warns me that all the changes I made will be removed, but if that's what you want, go ahead and click Revert, and that takes the photo back to its original state.
Now, the way Photo Gallery accomplishes this is that it actually creates a copy of your photo before you edit it. This really means that there are two photos for each photo you ever edit, the original and the additive version. Now, if you edit a lot of photos with Photo Gallery, you can start eating up a lot of valuable hard-drive space. You can reclaim some of the space, let me go back to the Gallery, by choosing File > Options, and under the General tab, click the menu under Original Photos which is set to Never move originals to the Recycle Bin by default. And then here you can select a different amount of time.
For example, if you haven't edited or reverted a photo after six months or a year, chances are you probably won't need that original. So maybe select One year, and all a year-old original photos will then be moved to your Recycle Bin and deleted when you next empty the Recycle Bin. That's how to use the editing tools in Windows Live Photo Gallery.
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