12 min. to read
When it comes to taking photos, there are many options available these days. Whether you own a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, a small point-and-shoot or a mobile phone, we all enjoy the fun of taking pictures. But sometimes the digital photo doesn’t quite meet your expectations. Maybe the colors seem dull. Or the composition is a little off-balance. Perhaps the horizon isn’t straight. Or the photo looks too light or too dark.
There’s good news. Making a beautiful photo isn’t very difficult. In fact, it’s easier than you think. You even have the ability to save photos you thought were ruined. There are many tools available to edit your photos which provide excellent results and professional-looking images. You may have to invest a little time in learning an editing program, but using these tools is easier than ever and they’ll take your photography to the next level.
There are many software editing packages available for Mac users. We’ll cover three we particularly like: Apple Photos, Adobe Lightroom CC and Luminar by Skylum. We’ll go into these in more detail later, but we want to cover some of the basics of editing to help you get started.
There’s no right or wrong way to frame a photo, but there are rules that will help improve your pictures. It’s always best to compose the image in your camera, but even the pros find they can improve the composition of an image by cropping it using a photo editor. We’ll cover basic photo composition, give you some helpful tips for taking pictures, and show you some of the things you can do with photo editing software.
Isolate your subject and make it the center of attention in the frame. If other objects are in the shot, try cropping them out.
One common mistake people make when taking photos is standing too far away from the subject. Fill the frame with your subject and don’t leave a lot of empty space.
Determine if your photo would look best as a horizontal or vertical shot. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can change the orientation of the image by cropping it later.
Many beginning photographers tend to place the subject in the center of the frame. Try using the Rule of Thirds. Most cameras and phones allow you to view the image in a grid, where the frame is split into thirds horizontally and vertically. Try and place the subject on one of those lines.
A well-composed photograph uses converging lines to give a sense of depth. This leads your eye into the frame and toward the subject. The best way to understand this is to think of a road going into the distance. The leading lines of the road converge to create a sense of depth and draw your eye toward the horizon. Crop your photo to make the best use of leading lines.
If you didn’t get it quite right in your camera, don’t worry. That’s where photo editing software can help. You can use the crop tool to simplify the image, bring the subject closer, change a horizontal photo into a vertical photo, reframe the subject or change the placement of leading lines.
A common problem that plagues even experienced photographers is when a photo isn’t straight. This is most noticeable when taking pictures of landscapes, where it’s easy to see a horizon line is crooked. This is an easy problem to fix.
Many people believe a photo that’s too dark or too light is ruined. With exposure and contrast controls, you can improve the overall darkness or lightness. Sometimes the colors in a photo seem a little dull, or maybe the image looks too green, too blue or has another color cast.
Once you’ve finished editing your images, it’s a good idea to save your work with the Save As command instead of overwriting the original file. This way you’ll always have access to the original image in case you want to go back and edit it again or add new effects.
We’ve touched on some of the basic photo editing controls available in these editing programs. One of the reasons we recommend Luminar from Skylum is that it adapts to the user’s skill level and includes all the tools needed to create great photos. Beginners will save time because it’s so easy to learn, while advanced photographers will appreciate Luminar’s native RAW processor.
You’ll be able to start using Luminar right away to create stunning images to show your friends or post on social media sites. In fact, Luminar lets you share your photos directly to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, SmugMug and 500px.