Wouldn’t it be great if every photo you captured on your phone or digital camera was perfect, ready to print and put into a frame? Not even professional photographers have that luxury. Even the most experienced professional will rely on image manipulation tools to enhance the quality of photos.
Three of the most useful, yet basic features of image manipulation software can dramatically increase the quality of your prints. Given these are basic features, most free online image editors, and perhaps pre-installed photo software on your laptop could perform them, so there’s no additional cost for preparing your photos for print, other than the time it takes to complete.
3 Ways to Manipulate Digital Photos Prior to Printing
To crop a photo is to cut something out of it. It is ideal for pictures you have taken that has been photo-bombed by someone in the background; however, it is also beneficial for reframing the subject in your photo.
Cropping an image can just mean cutting off the side of it to move the main focus of the print to the left or right. Rather than someone or something being direct in the centre of a photo, the two-thirds rule can be applied to add some visual appeal, helping to draw the eye to the focal point of the photo. The focal point can be more appealing when it is positioned to the left or right rather than in the direct centre in a printed photo.
A cropping tool can be used to reposition your image or cut out unsavoury aspects in the image that do not add to its aesthetics.
Resizing an image does more than change the image dimensions. It is also going to alter the picture quality because digital images consist of pixels which are tiny dots that should be invisible to the eye. These are measured on a dot per inch basis.
When you resize the pixels of an image, you will either decrease pixel density when you decrease the photo size or if you increase the size, you will stretch the pixels to cover more area.
Stretching pixels is not beneficial for prints because if you go too large, your print will have visible dots in the final version. This is called pixelation. To avoid it, it is best to use the resizing tool to decrease the size of a photo.
Where resizing digital images comes into its own when preparing images for print is for multi-aperture frames where the goal is to fit more smaller sized photos into one large collage frame.
Image sharpening is what can be used to make subjects in photos pop. What the tool does is make darker pixels darker and lighten lighter pixels. The result is more definition around edges that gives them more definition.
The only photo type unlikely to benefit from image sharpening is baby photos as the goal is to achieve a soft look.
Where definition, contrast and colour vibrancy matter, a tiny bit of image sharpening can be applied. It helps to highlight areas in a photo, but what it cannot do is add aspects that were not there in the first place. In other words, sharpening your images only increases clarity, but it will not fix blurry photos or add shadows where there are none.
The next time you are looking through your digital photo album thinking of what could be printed, consider how cropping, resizing, and sharpening could be applied to improve the photo before sending to your printer.