Is there a way to lighten up a photo without expensive software?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Every now and then, I get a pretty good group photo where everyone has
    their eyes open and no one has a weird expression on their face. Sadly,
    the image is a little too dark. This is often because of back lighting
    and I forget to select that setting.

    I found a lot of tutorials for how to do it with Photoshop, but I don't
    want to spend $600 for a tool that I won't use more than 1% of.

    Is there any way that I can just lighten up the photo without having to
    buy Photoshop? If there is nothing cheaper, I'd be willing to spend up
    to $50 or so.

    I have Irfanview. I found two options that seem to do what I want, but I
    am not sure how to use them. Is there a tutorial somewhere?

    1. Auto Adjust Colors (Shift+U). I tried this on a few photos. It takes
    a few seconds and seems to generally lighten everything. It can be done
    more than once, but doesn't seem to have any other adjustments.

    2. Color Correction (Shift+G). This brings up a second view of the photo
    side by side with several sliders underneath: Brightness, Color Balance
    (RGB), Contrast, Gamma Correction, and Saturation.

    Brightness lightens everything the same amount. This might be useful if
    the whole photo was too dark.

    Color balance seems like I should leave it alone.

    Contrast is a little harder to use. I'm not sure what the contrast is
    between.

    Gamma Correction starts out at 1.00. I am also not sure what it does.

    Saturation seems to control how close it is to grey scale.

    Can anyone offer any hints about how to use these adjustments?

    Is there any tool that will scan the photo and make its best guess at
    what to do?

    Thanks
     
    Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013
    #1
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  2. Jennifer Murphy

    Robert Coe Guest

    : Every now and then, I get a pretty good group photo where everyone has
    : their eyes open and no one has a weird expression on their face. Sadly,
    : the image is a little too dark. This is often because of back lighting
    : and I forget to select that setting.
    :
    : I found a lot of tutorials for how to do it with Photoshop, but I don't
    : want to spend $600 for a tool that I won't use more than 1% of.
    :
    : Is there any way that I can just lighten up the photo without having to
    : buy Photoshop? If there is nothing cheaper, I'd be willing to spend up
    : to $50 or so.
    :
    : I have Irfanview. I found two options that seem to do what I want, but I
    : am not sure how to use them. Is there a tutorial somewhere?
    :
    : 1. Auto Adjust Colors (Shift+U). I tried this on a few photos. It takes
    : a few seconds and seems to generally lighten everything. It can be done
    : more than once, but doesn't seem to have any other adjustments.
    :
    : 2. Color Correction (Shift+G). This brings up a second view of the photo
    : side by side with several sliders underneath: Brightness, Color Balance
    : (RGB), Contrast, Gamma Correction, and Saturation.
    :
    : Brightness lightens everything the same amount. This might be useful if
    : the whole photo was too dark.
    :
    : Color balance seems like I should leave it alone.
    :
    : Contrast is a little harder to use. I'm not sure what the contrast is
    : between.
    :
    : Gamma Correction starts out at 1.00. I am also not sure what it does.
    :
    : Saturation seems to control how close it is to grey scale.
    :
    : Can anyone offer any hints about how to use these adjustments?
    :
    : Is there any tool that will scan the photo and make its best guess at
    : what to do?
    :
    : Thanks

    What kind of camera (make and model) are you using, and are you shooting RAW
    or JPEG? There are lots of photo editors around (Irfanview is a pretty good
    one), but which one is best for you may depend on your answers.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Dec 16, 2013
    #2
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  3. Jennifer Murphy

    Guest Guest

    you don't need the full photoshop.

    photoshop elements fits your description perfectly. it's usually about
    $50-60 and it will handle raw photos if you shoot raw.

    however, if you're shooting a lot of photos, lightroom is a much better
    choice because it combines the usual adjustments (exposure, colour
    balance, sharpening, etc.) with an easy way to manage all your photos
    and find the ones you want, and it can make web pages, print, etc. it's
    around $100, but is occasionally less. it was just on sale for $70, an
    amazing deal.
     
    Guest, Dec 16, 2013
    #3
  4. It's a Nikon Coolpix S8200. I get JPG images. I'd get a better camera,
    but I can barely use this one. I think P&S is best for me.
     
    Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013
    #4
  5. Jennifer Murphy

    isw Guest

    GIMP is free.

    If you have a Mac, you can do it in Preview (which comes with the kit).

    Isaac
     
    isw, Dec 16, 2013
    #5
  6. I downloaded the trial version of Elements several years ago. I think it
    was recommended to me by someone here. I never used it enough to get the
    hand of it. Every time I needed to do something, I had to relearn it all
    over again.

    Would the adjustments provided by Elements do a better job than what
    Irfanview can do with my skill level?

    I don't think my P&S camera (Nikon Coolpix S8200) will give me raw
    images. At least I don't know how to do it. I get JPGs.
    I do shoot quite a few photos, mostly of the grandkids.

    How does it "manage" the photos? It would be handy to have some sort of
    organization. I have them in Windows folders by date and event:

    \2013
    \20130122 Name of event
    \20130203 John's birthday
    \20130225 Disneyland

    etc.
     
    Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013
    #6
  7. I tried that once and found it impossible to use. The windows kept
    jumping all over.
    I have a PC.
     
    Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013
    #7
  8. Jennifer Murphy

    Savageduck Guest

    That camera does not give you the benefit of shooting RAW. However,
    since you are reluctant to spend too much on decent editing software, I
    suggest you start with what Nikon has given you bundled with your
    camera, ViewNX2. Without getting too complicated this software should
    give you the ability to make rudimentary image adjustments.

    Also that camera has an in-camera editing feature called "D-Lighting"
    which gives you the ability to make some adjustments to detail in the
    shadows & highlights.

    My recommendation for you is Photoshop Elements, but I am going to
    suggest that you look at what you already have.
     
    Savageduck, Dec 16, 2013
    #8
  9. Jennifer Murphy

    Savageduck Guest

    ....and that's OK.
     
    Savageduck, Dec 16, 2013
    #9
  10. Jennifer Murphy

    Guest Guest

    if you tell it to apply the same adjustments, the results should be the
    same. there might be some minor differences if you analyzed it but it's
    highly unlikely you can see a difference.

    what matters is if the app is easy to use.
    not as far as i can tell, but maybe your next camera will.
    that'll do it.
    that way is a lot more work for the user than is needed. the computer
    is *really* good at searching and indexing photos so you can search on
    content.

    it's similar to how you might search for photos using google's image
    search. you search on what you want photos of and it gives you images
    that match. however, unlike google, you get what you want.

    for instance, you could search by location (e.g., disneyland) and get
    all photos in that location. you could search on birthday parties and
    get john's party and any other birthday parties, or search on birthday
    parties of just john. photos can be rated 1-5 stars, so you can search
    of only the best ones. it's very flexible.

    some apps can even do face recognition which makes finding photos of a
    particular person extremely easy, but lightroom doesn't do that (yet).

    the way it works is you train it on a few photos for each person and
    then it processes the rest of the library. picasa does it (multiple
    platforms), as does apple's iphoto and aperture (mac only).

    let the computer do the work.
     
    Guest, Dec 16, 2013
    #10
  11. It's not the money, per se. It's money on something that I am never
    likely to learn to use.
    I didn't know that. I'll look into it, thanks.
    I didn't know that, either. See, PSE would be wasted on me! ;-)
    OK, thanks.
     
    Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013
    #11
  12. How does it know what the content is? Do I enter keywords?
    How does it know a photo is from Disneyland or a party? Again, keywords
    I type in?
    Thanks
     
    Jennifer Murphy, Dec 16, 2013
    #12
  13. Jennifer Murphy

    Guest Guest

    yes, as well as user ratings and any other info you want.

    you can add keywords in batch, so when you import the birthday party
    photos, you tell it to give all of them the birthday party keyword,
    then as you go through them to see which ones are keepers and which
    aren't, you can rate them accordingly and add any additional keywords
    that may be relevant.

    it's not as bad as it sounds and beats having to sort photos in
    specific folders and then maintain it.

    it really pays off when you want a certain photo but aren't sure when
    you took it or what the event was, so you don't know which folder it's
    in.
    you could use keywords for that, but it's easier to geotag it with the
    gps coordinates.

    ideally that's done in the camera from a gps (some cameras have a gps
    and nearly all smartphones do), but the location can be added later if
    it's not added by the camera. again, that can be done in a batch if you
    shoot a bunch of photos in one place, which could even be 'california'
    if you don't want to mark each individual city.
     
    Guest, Dec 16, 2013
    #13
  14. Jennifer Murphy

    Wally Guest

    Try the Nikon bundled software as suggested, or Irfanview, which you
    already have and which you have some experience with.

    In Irfanview, when you are viewing a picture, hit Shift-G, and a
    dialog box pops up with sliders. Drag the corners of the dialog box to
    make the box bigger so you can see better what you're doing. Then work
    with the Brightness slider. If the brightness improves but the
    contrast goes off a bit, then fix it with the Contrast slider. You can
    also experiment with the other sliders when you are ready.

    IrfanView also has features that let you easily crop an image and
    rotate it to fix sloping horizons, and to shrink the size of an image
    to make it easier to email.

    There are many other apps that allow you to fix images, and several
    good ones have been mentioned in this thread, but from what you say,
    they are most likely way to complicated for you.

    One exception might be Picasa. There is a learning curve, but it is
    worth trying, I think, if you outgrow the simpler options.

    W
     
    Wally, Dec 16, 2013
    #14
  15. Jennifer Murphy

    David Taylor Guest

    You might like to try the free Paint.Net and see how you like it:

    http://www.getpaint.net/

    There are tutorials here:

    http://www.getpaint.net/doc/latest/Tutorials.html
     
    David Taylor, Dec 16, 2013
    #15
  16. Jennifer Murphy

    Martin Brown Guest

    Another free one that might suit is Picasa.

    https://support.google.com/picasa/answer/156342

    It does more or less what a beginner wants and its defaults are fairly
    sensible for under or over exposure and fixing colour casts.

    A list of most of the available tools for this sort of thing is at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_raster_graphics_editors

    If you want something a bit more capable but with a steeper learning
    curve then the cut down Photoshop Elements or Paintshop Pro are worth a
    try. Both are at about the same price point.

    You can often get version N-1 remaindered if you shop around.
     
    Martin Brown, Dec 16, 2013
    #16
  17. Jennifer Murphy

    charles Guest


    With Photoshop Elements there are things to do.

    One
    http://www.slideshare.net/archkre/fill-flash-trick-for-photoshop

    and
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Pho...shop_family/topics/why_no_second_chance_flash

    another
    http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=32082&seqNum=6


    some info
    http://forums.adobe.com/thread/619773

    Old version of PE had it ready made, newer versions deleted the simple
    function, added more control.

    As usual, make a copy of the picture and only edit one of them, save
    one just in case.
     
    charles, Dec 16, 2013
    #17
  18. Jennifer Murphy

    charles Guest


    with Irfanview, try opening the file, select image > color corrections
    then try adjusting brightness and gamma, see if you can find anything
    you like better that way. On a copy, not the initial image.
     
    charles, Dec 16, 2013
    #18
  19. Everyone seems to have missed the essense of the above part of
    your original statement. I take it from the above that you
    *don't* want to just make the whole image brighter, but you
    actually want the subject to look better while not necessarily
    doing anything to the background. That is a distinction that
    has not been discussed in any of the responses.

    First, to really get into doing that is a very complex editing
    issue that clearly you don't want to mess with ever! At the
    level you are willing to work at, there isn't a lot that can be
    done, but sometimes a couple of very simple things will provide
    at least some benefit.

    The tool you'll need is usually called "Curves", though I'm not
    sure what it might be in any of the software packages you have
    or might get. What it does is present you with a graph that is
    a histogram of the image, showing pixel counts at each
    brightness level along with a "gamma curve" that starts as a
    straight line but can be changed by moving points on it with the
    mouse.

    Note that "gamma" is "contrast". Same thing. Gamma 1.0, or 2.2
    or 0.4545 are all ways of saying the same thing (no you don't
    want to know how 1 is equal to 2.2! It just is.) That just means
    "normal". Since you don't like the normal picture... you make the
    contrast abnormal! :)

    It may not do much on many shots, and there is no cookie cutter
    setting that improves things. But it allows you to change the
    relative brightness between different tone levels. The maximum white
    and minimum black can be left exactly the same, for example.
    But you can squeeze all that white background into a very small
    range of white, and pull a subjects face highlights up a bit and
    their shadows down a bit to make the face much clearer than it
    was.

    Just be warned that it takes some playing with to get enough
    experience to get anything right. You might try posting one or
    more images that you'd like to see changed, and let others give
    it a try (with instructions to use only curves) and then have
    them post either a description or a link to a screen shot of the
    curves graph they used to edit your picture. Kinda complex, but
    might be fun too (because we have people here that will argue
    about whether the right tool, the right contrast, the right OS,
    or the right breakfast cereal was used).
     
    Floyd L. Davidson, Dec 16, 2013
    #19
  20. Jennifer Murphy

    Martin Brown Guest

    Irfan view is free and pretty good but assumes an understanding of
    images that you don't have and don't seem inclined to obtain.
    ISTR you have asked this question or one very like it before.
    You basically need to experiment on an image with brightness+contrast
    and then brightness+gamma to get a feel for how changing both affects
    the character of an image. Extreme contrast goes to soot and whitewash.

    If you have a tool which shows the histogram in realtime then you have a
    sporting chance of adjusting an image to maximise visible content.
    Almost all of the ones intended for beginners offer some kind of basic
    histogram analysis and an interactive before and after view of what the
    various adjustments they offer will do to your image. Some even display
    a grid of altered images stepped along the axes you have selected.

    Many provide a one click solution that isn't far off being right.
     
    Martin Brown, Dec 16, 2013
    #20
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