Photoshop-ing with Picasa

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I recently stepped up my photography from amateur to semi-professional, I bought a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera and decided to put to active use my knowledge of shutter speed, aperture, ISO and exposure settings. Due to my cash at hand I had to make do with a Pentax *ist D, Pentax's oldest DSLR camera. But it is just perfect for my need, it has sufficient megapixels of 6.3 which is just what I need since I only plan to post my pictures online ( ) and print some on a 5" x 7" photo paper. Also the picture quality is awesome, in fact it has excellent picture quality ratings from all the reviews I read. And best of all, it is very compact, so light-weight that I often hold it in one hand and I find it relatively easy to take with me everywhere.

In order to create a collection, I began snapping all the wonderful scenes around me: the bridges, sunset, busy highways and so on. But on a number of times I needed to adjust the image properties like contrast and temperature in order to better convey the message in the picture. To do this in the world of professional photography, Photoshop has been so recommended that you would believe it's the only option. But for an opensource freak like me, there most be another equally good alternative, and my search for this alternative led me to Google's Picasa. Though Picasa can't do multipoint cropping, background design and many other creative design stunts, but to make a picture eyepopping and adjust the exposure Picasa is the perfect tool.

The picture below is a shot I took one afternoon, but from the picture you'll think I took it at dusk. 

I simply opened it in Picasa and under the Basic Fixes handle I applied Auto Contrast and the result is the picture below. Auto contrast works excellently in brightening pictures taken in daylight and of far away objects, but scarcely brightens a picture taken indoor or at night.

Remember I said I took this picture in the afternoon, and not just any afternoon it was a sunny afternoon. So in other to emphasize that the picture was taken in a sunny afternoon, I increased the color temperature under the Tuning handle. The picture below is the result.

Increasing the color temperature gives the picture a sunny effect, the higher the temperature the more the sunshine. And decreasing the color temperature makes the picture look like it was taken under a thunderstorm or a fluorescent light, but further decrease gives the picture an eerie blue overlay.

You can also fiddle with the highlights to overexpose bright areas of the picture. You can adjust the shadows to underexpose or darken certain areas of the picture. The fill light can be used to flush the image with a white light uniformly.

But be careful not to over adjust the picture as you might end up creating a less life looking image rather than enhancing the picture. Just make sure your shot is as perfect as possible, even if you have to wait for or make the right light condition and give it the proper exposure you want. If the image is alright you might not need to adjust it but if for reasons beyond camera control, the image is dull then you should go ahead and Picasa it.

If you have any suggestion or question feel free to use the comment, I'll be more than happy to hear it.


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