2007 SLP Curriculum Guide #01, Foto Enhance Overview
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This year we begin by exploring ways to enhance photographs using Paintshop Pro. The guide is designed to just outline key steps used in the illustration. The guide is based upon PSP version 10 though one will be able to use any PSP version, though earlier versions may not have the exact feature discussed.

GOAL

The goal for the photographic enhancement series is to explore the various PSP features that can be used to fix photographs. A number of the features will often produce the same or similar results with the main difference in the feature being the level of control the user may have to achieve the results. The guides will cover a number of these features using the same photograph for illustration.

OVERVIEW

Photographs can be enhanced. Even ones that we think are not very good can often be fixed to the point they become acceptable or sometimes even very good. Sometimes there are simple fixes using just the default features and sometimes the fixes require the use of more than one feature.

If one is a true photographic buff one could learn about all the technical aspects of each of the features and then use them to effect some very fine changes to the original photograph. However, for the majority of us, we are not technically minded but still want to learn how to fix photographs. Thus these guides are presented to explore ways each of us can learn how to manage photographs we would like to fix up in someway or another.

ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPH

The photograph I am using for illustration is one I took of my dog Bear. I changed the size to an 800 x 600 pixel picture for purposes of reducing the size of photographs used for illustration. You are welcome to use my photograph or if you prefer use one of your own.

The photograph I selected tends to be a bit darker than I want. Many of my photographs are in fact darker than I would wish. For the most part my photographs are fairly sharp or in focus and I suspect that for you very possibly your photographs may also be darker than you like. Sometimes my photographs have a color hue I also want to fix. So, the initial guides will explore ways to first fix the brightness of the photograph and then move on to other PSP features.

PHOTOGRAPHIC END RESULT

Often I try to first envision what the final product might be. In the illustration photograph it is too dark both in the background and for the puppy. What I am wanting to achieve is a photograph where some of the background is more visible and the puppy stands out. Since my photograph also has a date stamp at a much later part of my enhancement process I would want to eliminate it. However, the first part of the process for me, and the guides, will explore ways to brighten and to some extent sharpen the photograph.

PSP VERSIONS

The PSP Version 10 is the one I used initially. I have attempted to reproduce the results using Version 9 and Version 8 in order to point out some similarities between the two versions as well as some of the differences. However, the main focus in the guides is related to using version 10. I yet have to own Version 11 so have no idea at this point of its similarities and differences in its features.

All results can be achieved in any version between version 8 and version 11. The main difference between the versions is that later versions have additional features. Many of the additional features also tend to combine individual features of earlier versions to make the enhancement process simpler and easier.

TIPS AND HINTS

I use some basic steps when working with photographs. These basic steps often make returning to the work I am doing easier to remember what I was doing and often allow me to learn more and more about various features. These Hints and Tips are just a guide for you to consider.
  • 1. First and foremost DUPLICATE THE ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPH in order to preserve it. Then just work the duplicate copy when exploring fixes. Also, plan on using many layers in your working image.
  • 2. DUPLICATE THE BACKGROUND LAYER in case you want to start again or want to compare progress when exploring features and options by turning layers on and off.
  • 3. When working a feature, USE THE PROOF BUTTON to compare the features results with the previous result. Then before setting the feature you can explore different values for the particular option.
  • 4. Once satisfied with a particular step, DUPLICATE THE LAYER AGAIN and continue the process of exploring other features and/or options.
  • 5. LABEL EACH LAYER with a key word to remember what you did on that layer so if you return to it, you will know what you did. You might even list the value options used.
  • 6. SAVE FREQUENTLY AS A PSPIMAGE FILE so that if your computer crashes you at least have your work done.
  • 7. SAVE THE FINAL RESULT AS A PSPIMAGE FILE before merging layers and then saving as a JPEG file.

FINAL COMMENTS

One of the best ways I have used to learn how features work is to spend lots of time with each feature. Often I just explore the various OPTIONS and their values to see how each option works on the photograph.

Over time I have learned that certain values tend to work best and often these values are lower values. However initially I will exaggerate them so I know what type of effect is produced by that value. Also, when there are multiple options, often the balance between the option values creates the ultimate result I am seeking. So, I often might use different layers for each option and label that layer with the option and the value I have used. Then I can return to each option to change its value by turning off other layers.

The important point for me is the willingness to be patient and take time to just explore. Also, it is important to just try it, try it and try it some more. There are no magical ways to learn except to be willing to try things out and explore.

The most important point is have fun.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • Name or Screen Name.
    • Web Site URL.
    • Version of PSP using.
    • List of Tutorials completed.
  2. Post your Work:
    • List what you did, feature, options used, values.
    • Indicate steps taken and results.
    • Indicate things you found interesting, worthwhile and any other comments.
  3. List some of the similarities you found between the Menu System, Palettes, and Keyboard shortcuts.
  4. Post any questions and comments in the SLP Forum.

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