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Unlock the marvels your software promises you

By: Dan Brown

With the advent of digital technology, photography has finally come out of its ivory tower and is now the prerogative of even the most inexperienced amateur. While this in no way means that you are exempt from paying attention to all the intricacies, which range from light conditions to color themes, it also does mean that you can afford to make a few mistakes while capturing the image, without having to worry about all the dire consequences if it doesn't end up like it's supposed to. And here's where you need to pay attention to not just choosing the best version of editing software, but also to mastering the basics for it is only when you are a natural with these key functions that you will be able to move on to the more complicated procedures which you will eventually graduate to, in the course of your foray into the world of editing.

Before you set out to edit your image, always make sure that you have a backup copy of the original with you. That way, even if you do make a complete disaster of the image, you still have the original to get back to, and rework from scratch, if need be. To do this, you first need to open a copy of your image with the editing software, and then click on the 'Save As' option, which will copy a replica of the original to a convenient part of your computer. You can begin to experiment with the copy of the image, once you've ensured that the original is intact. Almost every photo-editor encourages you to be as experimental as you can, with the 'Undo' option close at hand if you need to erase any changes you've made. Some, more advanced versions even allow you multiple undo options to save only the changes you want to and discard the rest.

Your software will also offer you plenty of alternatives when it comes to working your way around the image. The most basic, and also most common, tool is the 'Hand tool', which is also known as the 'Pan tool'. You can use this to move through the image, without having to worry about causing any involuntary changes. If you need to get closer for a better view, which also translates into more accuracy, you can zoom in to your image with the 'Magnifying Glass Tool' which, as the name suggests, is similar to function as the magnifying glass. This tool will display a 'plus' sign, when you are closing in on your image and a negative sign when you're drawing out. Most editing softwares let you left click to zoom in or out of your image, while others also have the added advantage of a set increment when you right click on the specific part of the image.

If you happen to find your image appearing distorted when you zoom into it, it is only because the pixels become disparate as you draw closer, which separates them. However, this effect is easily reversed once you zoom out, which lets you work on your image at a pixel-by-pixel level and then draw out to review your progress. To save on even more time, without compromising on the quality of your editing, you can also use the 'Eyedropper Tool' which lets you select all the pixels of a particular color throughout the image.

Your editing software will also be enabled with what are known as 'Marquee' tools, which let you trace basic shapes like rectangles and circles or even ellipses around your image. You can also use the freeform tool for drawing around unsymmetrical shapes which do not fit into the rectangular or circular frames. This freeform tool lets you trace around the image by holding your mouse button down or clicking around the image to create a series of dots which will automatically connect to each other, once you click on the first dot again. And once you're through with your selection, a flowing dotted line will appear around the highlighted portion of your image.

These basic functions set the stage for the more advanced tools which you can use to create spectacular effects and even make discreet changes to enhance your images. The easiest and most foolproof technique to augment the focus of your photograph is to crop the edges off with the subject in the center. You can even hue your images with a subtle tint to imbibe it with a special theme using the array of filters that your editing software provides you with. You can also paint brush strokes over your image, just as you would with a physical painting, to add color and even paint out slight blemishes in your image.

How easy or difficult it is for you to use your software all depends on how systematic and well-versed you are with all the options you are granted. The more creative you get the larger number of tools you use This also means that you are conversant with many more features than if you restrict yourself to the conventional stereotypes. And before you know it, you'll be well on your way to creating one-of-a-kind works of exquisite art!

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Getting to know Digital Photography is better in many ways. Classes have developed and new ways have risen. Now you can read all about painting with light

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