Available Now! January 2013 issue
How to lighten photos in Picasa
Most point-and-shoot cameras and even newer cell phone cameras have an exposure option that you can adjust. Sometimes it helps to use this feature, but it can be cumbersome to find, and more often than not it’s just easier to lighten the image with software. Photoshop, of course, is the photo editing program, but it is also prohibitively expensive and has a steep learning curve. I use Photoshop at work, but when it comes to editing photos at home, I use Google’s free program, Picasa. Picasa is easy to use, and it can produce great results quickly. You can download and install it and then follow the steps below to lighten your dark photos.
Shoot next to a source of natural light if possible. Try to get as much light on the subject as you can without using your flash. If you can’t get a good photo without the flash, try positioning artificial lights. Lighting is a subject I’ll go into extensively in a later column, but for now the main point is that you need light. If you need to, wait until daylight.
Step 1: Import your photo
Import your photo in Picasa from your camera or hard drive and double click on it to edit.
Step 2: Adjust the fill & highlights
Click on the second adjustment tab on the left (the one that looks like a black and white sun). Move the sliders for “Fill Light” and “Highlights” to the right until the photo looks nice and the whites look white. Depending on how dark the photo is and how much light you had to work with, you may or may not have good results. If the image starts to get grainy when you lighten it, bring the sliders back to the left until it looks okay again.
Step 3: Adjust the saturation (if necessary)
Sometimes when you adjust the lighting in Picassa, it can make the colors get too saturated (vivid & fluorescent). I’ve found this to be true especially with warm colors, like bright oranges and reds. If this happens, you can compensate by clicking on the third adjustment tab (the paintbrush) and clicking “Saturation.” Move the slider to the left a little to tone down the hot colors and make them look more true-to-life.
Now that your photo has been lightened, you can use one of the many export settings from Picasa to post it online or save it for print. Feel free to play around with the other features in Picasa to get a feel for this free program.
Guest post from Melissa Burt, art director and photography enthusiast. Her photography columns appear in WebCents in each issue and you can find her blogging at indigomouse.net.
Adding Social Media Icons
Instagram released official icons for users to put on their blogs, websites and printed materials this week. They join Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube in having authorized icons. [The rules and guidelines for each vary, so be sure to look them over and make sure you are playing by the rules. ]
Using these social media icons on your blog, website and in your shop’s newsletter, gives you the added benefit of brand recognition. Facebook users (and there are more than a billion!) are more likely to click, like and follow along with your shop if they see the icon, rather than expecting them to track you down. Facebook’s search engine is notoriously difficult to track down the exact person or business you are looking for, so make it as easy as possible for customers, and potential customers, to “like” you on Facebook.
The same principle goes for each social medium, wherever your fans are, you need to be as well. And you need to make it as simple as possible for them to stay in touch. Using the icons and, most importantly, linking them to your profile on each medium will give them the quickest and easiest way to connect with you.
Download the logos from each site or by following the link on each icon below:
No Time to Blog? Try a New Approach
We’re all busy these days and finding time to fit blogging may seem impossible, but it’s not. Keeping up on your blog is an important part of engaging with your customers. There are a few tricks to try if you’re looking for that extra bit of time to update your blog. Give each a try and find what works for you.
- Get up early or stay up late. Depending on whether you are an early bird or a night owl, you can carve out an extra half hour or so to get a blog post written.
- There’s an app for that. Whether you are using WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr, there are apps available for your smartphone to make blogging (especially of photos) simple. Take a picture, add a watermark, then post it with commentary and upload–all from the comfort of your phone!
- Post more than words. Readers love pictures and tutorial and videos, so use them all. Vary your posts (tutorials are time consuming, sharing a video is quick and easy) to ensure that posts are going up on a fairly regular basis.
- Get some help. Doing it all yourself can be a little overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask your employees for a little help. Sharing the blog load will make it more fun for both writers and readers.
Get to Know Patty Young of Modkid
For our May issue of WebCents magazine, I got the chance to talk with Patty Young, the designer behind Modkid Patterns and Patty Young Designs. The woman is a bundle of energy and seems to accomplish more in a week than I could even dream of. She is non-stop, go-go-go and it’s part of what has made both her fabric designs and patterns a success. She keeps her customers/fans in mind with everything she does and works tirelessly to create intentionally.
But since Patty and Monica both love to talk, and honestly I love listening to their banter, their conversation went on a bit longer than usual. Check out the second part of their interview at Smart Creative Women.