Basic Photo Editing Tips

Photo Editing Tips

Now that you’ve seen some evidence of what NOT to do, let’s review the basic photo editing tools in Photoshop. While we will use Photoshop during class, if you do not have access off-campus to Photoshop, then consider using Google’s free photo editing software, Picasa, or another popular open-sourced application, GIMP. Also, you can download a free 30-day trial of Photoshop.

Cropping: Crop to ensure that only one clear subject exists. You can crop to ensure the photo fits a certain aspect ratio (e.g., 150 pixels height by 350 pixels width). The Crop tool is located on the toolbar.

Resizing: Sometimes, you’ll need to resize your photo in order to make it fit a certain area. You can go to Image –> Image Size. There is an option to keep the constrain proportions option checked.

Image Adjustments: Go to Image –> Adjustments and you’ll find several options. My favorites are Brightness/Contrast, Levels, and Color Balance. Play around with them to get the look you want to achieve, without over-doing it and changing the essence of the photo. You can also make an image Black and White here.

Dodge/Burn: The Dodge Tool looks like a lollipop icon in the toolbar and can be used to lighten specific areas of your photo. Right-click on the Dodge Tool and you’ll find a Burn Tool to darken areas of the photo. This tool is appropriate for photojournalists to improve the lightness of a specific part of a photo. However, be sure not to go too far with this tool and alter the photo completely.

Clone Stamp: The Clone Stamp looks like a stamp icon in the toolbar and can be used to clone a specific area of the photo. You can then paste the cloned area to another part of the photo. This is not a very appropriate tool for photojournalists because you may clone a person or object into the photo, which is not a good idea. It may be helpful if you plan on going into strategic communication though.

Spot Healing Brush: This looks like a BandAid. It can correct small blemishes in your photo, such as stains on shirts, red eye, and strange light reflections. For photojournalism, the use of this tool is not recommended unless your editor gives you permission. Otherwise, this tool is useful for cleaning up portraits and creating strategic communication visuals.

Resolution: Publishing photos for the web is different than publishing photos for printing. You don’t need as large of an image resolution for the web. Therefore, when saving your edited photo in Photoshop, go to File –> Save for Web & Devices. You have the option of choosing a resolution that is appropriate for the web. It doesn’t need to be more than 72 pixels per inch.

Just because you can edit your photos, doesn’t mean that you should. You want to capture the photo in a way that does not require editing. However, if you do edit, be sure you follow good common sense and do not go past the ethical boundaries of photojournalism.

Avoid wondering into strategic communication image editing for this Blog Post 5- Photojournalism.

Good luck being photojournalists for the week!

About The Author

I'm a faculty member in Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming. At UW, I have taught online journalism, advanced new media, introduction to mass media, politics and media, and alternative media. At Ohio State, where I got my PhD, I taught research methods, news reporting and writing, visual communication, and persuasion. My reserach focuses on political communication, emerging media platforms, and entertainment media. In my spare time, I love to play with my daughters, hang out with my family, cook, hike, jog, read, and blog.