Polishing Up Your Pictures

I started taking pictures and attaching them to my blog about three years ago.  At the beginning I thought it was a very simple thing to do.  Buy a P&S camera, go out and find interesting subjects to photograph.  All you had to do was taking advantage of a clear bright day and a subject willing to pose for the camera.  You pressed the shutter button and voila, that was it.  No big deal.

Boy was I wrong.  As I immersed myself into the world of photography, the universe kept expanding and expanding.  There was so much to learn.  Photography involved a lot more than clicking a button on a bright day.

The Internet was an outstanding source of information.  I started to read about great photographers and studied their work.  Some of these classic photographers are:

  1. Henry Cartier-Bresson
  2. Sam Abell
  3. Galen Rowell
  4. Yousuf Karsh
  5. Steve McCurry
  6. Diane Arbus
  7. Mary Ellen Mark
  8. Annie Liebovitz
  9. Ansel Adams
  10. Richard Avedon
  11. Robert Frank
  12. Helmut Newton
  13. Irving Penn

When I feel let down and the muses are making fun of my work, I usually turn to Ansel Adams and Henry Cartier-Bresson.  They always cheer me up and show me the way to start working on my craft.  I’m still hanging in there, striving to create better photographs and understanding the challenges that lie ahead.

Besides learning how to shoot pictures using techniques such as Aperture, Lighting, Composition, Portraiture, Landscaping, Framing, Macros, Rule of Thirds and so on and so forth; a second phase is necessary to finish the job.  This phase is known as Digital Photo Edition or Darkroom.

Image editing encompasses the processes of altering images, whether they be digital photographs, traditional photochemical photographs, or illustrations. Graphic software programs, which can be broadly grouped into vector graphics editors, raster graphics editors, and 3D modelers, are the primary tools with which a user may manipulate, enhance, and transform images. Many image editing programs are also used to render or create computer art from scratch.

Most photographers prefer to do their darkroom work using the following image edition software:  Lightroom 5, Photoshop, Aperture, Picasa, Gimp, and Photomatix.  After researching the subject, I decided to try Photomatix.  It is not as intimidating as Lightroom 5 or Photoshop.  In addition, it has a reasonable price.  For the time being, I’ll continue editing my pictures with a free software called Pixlr.  This is the tool I’ve used for the last three years.  The results are fine, but I want to move on to a more sophisticated software.  I think Photomatix will do the job.

Below are several photographs edited before including them here as finished products.  They are not exactly excellent pictures, but that’s my best output.  Obviously, there’s a lot of work ahead.  I’m fully aware of that.

This picture was edited with Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 Hard as I tried, I couldn’t obtain a decent photograph as you can see. Furthermore, this software is not user-friendly, cumbersome and difficult to use. I don’t like to use it. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
This picture was edited with Pixlr which is my preferred photo edition software. However, as much as I like it, it has its limitations and there is so much you can achieve. A more sophisticated program is needed if I want to improve the quality of my pictures. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
This picture was edited with Pixlr. In my opinion it did a good job, however it is evident that it lacks features of a more powerful photo editor. For the time being, I will continue to use Pixlr until I’m ready to switch to Photomatix. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Suggested Reading:  “Adding Tone and Contrast to a Single Image” by Richard Harrington (Photofocus)


2 thoughts on “Polishing Up Your Pictures”

  1. Hi Omar,
    I see you have Gimp tagged, have you tried it? Photoshop is a pain to use, we had Corel in my office and I got very comfortable with it but it is costly.

    I don’t believe I ever manage to post a photo to the web without first cropping, or color editing or something. I use Irfanview a lot on photos, very fast and easy and free (I am REALLY in favor of free!).

  2. Hi Jim & Nena:

    No, I haven’t tried Gimp. The reason I tagged it in my post is that it is a highly popular software. My only experience has been with Pixlr as mentioned in my post. It’s okay, but I want to escalate to a more complete software.

    Photoshop is out of the equation for two main reasons: (1) Too expensive and (2) too complicated. I want to use a user-friendly software. I agree that editing your pictures is a wise thing to do. Never heard of Irfanview, will take a look at it, even though I plan to go ahead and purchase Photomatix Pro from Amazon online as soon as my tight budget will allow me. 🙂

    Best Regards,


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