How to Improve Your Photos FAST!

It’s easier than ever to improve most photos, thanks to advances in photographic editing technology. I’m not talking about making gallery-quality photographic art, but just the kinds of everyday pics you might want to post online.

Here’s an original photo that I downloaded from the wonderful Unsplash website that offers high-quality images at no cost — you only need to credit the photographer.

Photo: Grateful thanks to Brian Erickson on Unsplash!

Looks promising! Here’s the final image after some quick and simple edits. I confess, I edit like an illustrator, more interested in color and drama than an exact rendering.

Now, the thing is, it was dead easy and it took perhaps two minutes to make the changes.

First I applied a quick edit with Perfectly Clear. Perfectly Clear is a bit pricey, at $129, but it has saved me untold hours over the years. You get a standalone version as well as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom, and an external editor for Photos for Mac, Capture One, and Aperture. There’s also a mobile version.

Something I like about Perfectly Clear is that you can adjust the automatic corrections, or create a simple preset that will apply only the effects you find yourself using most often.

For the photo above I opened Perfectly Clear in Photoshop and applied the “Outdoors” effect, then I adjusted the effect with the Image Ambulance slider. I then edited it slightly in Photoshop with Filters > Camera Raw Filter where I applied a bit of Texture and Clarity.

A Clarion Cry for Cropping!

Something that drives me crazy is how, whenever I post a gallery of photos for my designer friends, they invariably fail to understand that every single one of the photos, with rare exceptions, needs to be CROPPED.

When I browse the Flickr photo hosting site, I’m powerfully struck by the degree to which many images could be improved by cropping.

I’ve been dabbling in video for the last couple of years, and I’ve been impressed by how much impact many photos can gain by being cropped to the popular cinematic aspect ratio of 1:2.39 — as shown in the photo of the runner.

It’s easy to try the 1:2.39 crop on your photos:

  1. Open an image in Photoshop and choose the Crop tool (or press C).
  2. Right-click anywhere in the photo and choose “Use Crop Box Aspect Ratio.” You’ll see “Ratio” in the toolbar at the top of the Photoshop window.
  3. In the first box to the right of “Ratio” type 2.39, and in the second box type 1.
  4. The crop box will change to the cinematic 1:2.39 dimensions so that you can drag the photo around to get the cinematic effect you want.
  5. To clear the fixed aspect ratio and go back to cropping freely, click the Clear button in the top menu.

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