Digital photo processing, or the act of using design software to ready a photo for print, is just as important as taking the perfect shot. A poorly processed photo can come out dull and dark, with skin and eye imperfections, improper balance of tones and a multitude of other problems. Some of the best digital photo processing tips involve using the right color profile and resolution, clearing up imperfections, balancing out the color, and correctly executing black-and-white conversion and noise reduction. These tips will help images, whether they are meant for Web or print use, to be their best.
Most digital cameras save photos in what is known as Red Green Blue (RGB), but most printers print in Cyan Magenta Yellow Key/Black (CMYK). If the printer does this conversion automatically, the colors turn out duller in print than on the screen. Most professional photo processing software will include an option to convert from RGB to CMYK, and this should be used for correct coloring. The dots per inch (DPI), or resolution, also should be set to the correct value based on the use of the image. Web use benefits from 72 DPI, meaning that images load quicker, while print use will need at least 300 DPI, for better clarity.
As for the color profile, the photo itself may look a little dull and lifeless. This occurs normally if the wrong camera setting is used or if the camera just makes images look darker. Most digital photo processing projects will benefit from turning up the tonality to balance out the color.
Imperfections are common, both on people and in the photos featuring them, and should be fixed during digital photo processing. If red eye or other eye color changes occur, this can be fixed with a red eye tool in the program, or by making the eye slightly darker. Skin imperfections, such as acne or scratches, are slightly harder to fix. The photographer should use a clone stamp tool, clone a portion of skin that has no imperfection, and then lightly cover up any bad areas.
Many photographers like to convert a color photo into a black-and-white image. When amateur photographers do this, they turn down the color saturation until there is nothing left but black and white, but this tends to leave an image looking cold. It is better during the digital photo processing to use a sepia color filter, which will give the image an added aged look, and will work better with the image’s depth.
Noise, or dot-like distortions in the image, occurs commonly with larger photos. While some photographers enhance the noise to give the image a grainer appearance, most photographers prefer to reduce the noise. This is used commonly, so nearly all photo processing programs have a noise reduction feature.