Imaging – Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop, GIMP

Everyone uses digital imaging these days, from as simple as teens taking photos from their mobile phones to as high-tech as hobbyists using digital SLR cameras to capture their favorite subject, such as landscapes or people. With the release of various handheld gadgets that feature a camera and online mediums such as Facebook that provide a way to share photos quickly, more and more people are using digital imaging in their daily lives.

Digital imaging is a process used in creating digital images, usually from a photographic image, illustration, computer files and other computer-generated materials. These images are transferred into vinyl, paper, film, transparencies and other output media materials.

Imaging in Education

Digital imaging can also be used in assisting the educational process of students from elementary to college. Both teachers and students can benefit from this technology in numerous ways, such as:

  • Presentations with Images – Teachers can use photos in illustrating steps of a procedure, providing students with a visual “how to” of subjects discussed on a given lesson. It also provides teachers a way to include graphics in written presentations and e-mailed class updates to parents. Students can also use images with writing narratives and essays.
  • Encourages creativity – Not only can digital images and photography enhance a student’s creative skills, using digital photos can also be used in class newsletters, school newspapers, student-made book projects, marketing of school plays and other class projects.
  • Used in Crafts – Kindergartens will enjoy taking pictures of themselves to be used in creating their own class album or website. High school students can use digital images to make photo collages, art projects, and other crafts.
  • Unlimited Possibilities – Teachers can ask students to use photography in experiments, class lectures and projects regardless of subject. Science teachers can ask kids to observe the growth of plants/pet or capture weather daily through pictures, while gym teachers can use images in demonstrating exercises or stunts. There is no limit as to what both teachers and students can do using digital images in the classroom.

Image Editing Tutorial 101

Before you can actually edit your digital images, you need to have a program to use. Dozens of image editing programs exist. Some of them are web-based, while others are software programs that are needed to be installed. Some programs are free, while some come with a fee. Your choice of program depends largely on how much you can spend and what projects you’ll be editing.

Here are the top 5 most popular Image Editing Programs you can use:

1) Adobe Photoshop – Photoshop is the most used and most popular photo editing software available in the market. If you’re new to digital imaging, the Photoshop Elements is a good alternative to the CS4 version. It provides a user-friendly interface and features every editing tool required for basic image editing. The Photoshop Elements has an Organizer that allows users to import images straight from a flash driver, camera phone, digital camera, video cameras, scanners and even screen captures. It has every output capability and has an extensive help section. The Adobe website also has a video library that teaches how to resize photos, share photos, repair photos and other basic and advanced tutorials. Don’t need an entire program on your PC? You can use Photoshop Express at photoshop.com and use the online editing tools free.

2) GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is an open source imaging editing program that is available free for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It has plenty of retouching tools and a highly customizable interface. GIMP also works similar to Photoshop’s docks that can be moved around to create your workspace. It provides output formats in JPG, TIFF, PNG, GIF and even Photoshop’s file format PSD. If you don’t want to spend money in purchasing a Photoshop CD, the GIMP is the most popular alternative to paid programs.

3) Corel Paint Shop Photo Pro – If you find the Photoshop CS4 a bit advanced, the Corel Paint Shop is designed for the beginner due to its user-friendly tools and interface. Corel Paint Shop Photo Pro X3 boasts the “Ultimate Express Lab” that automatically adjusts color, sharpness, contrast and brightness with one click, as well as the “Smart Photo Fix” that lets users adjust black and white levels, saturation, focus and brightness manually. Like Photoshop, Corel Paint has its own built-in organizer, but with an extensive library of effects such as retro and makeovers.

4) Serif PhotoPlus X3 Are you intimidated with how complicated most image editing programs look? The Serif PhotoPlus won’t scare you. It offers a basic set of editing tools for the beginner, but provides advanced features for color balance, hue, saturation, path creation, channel mixer and other editing tools fit for professional users. For most projects, one only needs the Quick Fix Studio that puts all common tools such as cropping, sharpening, red eye removal, color scale and blemish removal (among others) in one window.

5) Web-based Image Editing programs If you’re looking for a web-based alternative to these editing programs, there are a handful of options to choose from. One of the popular online tools is Google-acquired online photo editor Picnik that works directly with online photo libraries such as Picasa, Flickr and Facebook. Users can upload files online, edit the images and download them when done. Other options aside from Picnik include Aviary, Fotoflexer, Pixlr, SplashUp, Phoenix and more.

Most of these digital image-editing programs come with an “auto-fix,” wherein users can fix brightness, colors and sharpness of a photo with just one click. However, if you wish to go pro or if the auto-fix can’t do the trick, you can discover all the tools available in your chosen program. Practice regularly and you’ll be able to edit images even with your eyes closed.

The following techniques are some of the most-used editing features to help you get the ball rolling:

  • Image Resolution and Image Size – Taking pictures is easy with digital cameras, but the settings may be a little hard to digest. You may be faced with terms like resolutions, compression and images sizes, not knowing what each of these mean. To be able to set-up your digital camera properly, understand that the image resolution refers to the width and height of an image or the number of pixels in an image. Cameras usually provide options for 320×240, 640×480 1024×768 or more. These numbers represent the size of images your camera will be capturing once you start clicking.

When adding large-sized photos to your computer, sometimes the photos may not fit on your screen. This is because your computer also has its own resolution settings. If you plan on sending a photo via e-mail or uploading it online, you have to resize it to a more useful size, such as 400×600 pixels. To ensure height and width are proportionally changed, make sure to use the “keep aspect ratio” or “constrain” option checked.

  • Image Quality – The most basic way to improve the quality of an image is through compression. All uncompressed images are saved in formats such as TIF and BMP that do not compress pixels in an image. If you are resizing an image, you can choose the JPG format and take advantage of the compression option. JPG compression works by analyzing images in 8×8 pixel blocks and reducing details within every block selectively. Lower compression ratios may result in detail loss, particularly if you want to make large print sizes than recommended. Higher compression, however, can take long to load online.
  • Image Editing – The term image editing covers many techniques. Some of the basic options used are rotate, cropping, color enhancing,

o    Rotating – To change the orientation of an image, all you need to do is flip or rotate it with a few clicks.

o    Cropping Images – To make your composition look better, you can remove unwanted portions of an image by cropping to a specific aspect ratio.

o    Color Enhancing – You can adjust the brightness, contrast and exposure of your photo. You can sharpen soft-looking images, or reduce green, blue or any color of a particular image.

o    Photo Manipulation – Many programs provide a plethora of options for advanced users. The possibilities are endless. You can experiment on colors, lighting levels and themes, among others. You can also practice removing red eye on portraits, enhancing blurry images, and even recovering old photos by “modernizing” them.

  • Save, Print or Publish on the Web– Once you’re done editing your images, you need to save the image using a format your prefer. If you’re going to use the photo online, jpeg (jpg) is the recommended format. You can print the photos in any material, such as an ordinary 8×10 paper or a specialized photo paper. You can also store these photos in image management applications, such as the DigiKam, ACDSee, Photoshop’s Album, and web-based picture storage providers, such as Flickr.

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