Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Art of Putting Your Best Face Forward, or Fun with Photo Editing

When I don't have the opportunity to work in my studio, I often spend my time in the digital realm, plying my creative craft as best I can. I write, I read, I do research, and sometimes, I play with pictures. My current favorite tool for this pursuit is PhotoScape, a free photo-editing program one can download in minutes, simple enough for a novice but sophisticated enough to produce some great effects. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, you do not need to take college level classes to figure out how to brighten or blur an image, it's pretty self explanatory, and like I said, it's FREE. I especially like the "Mole Removal" (read: concealer) tool for removing all those unsightly blemishes, the "Antique" options for authentic-looking old photos, and the "Fake Tilt-Shift" for a hazy, dream-like feel.

I never post a new profile picture to my Facebook page that hasn't been enhanced in some way, and no, I don't think that's cheating. Some people wear make-up every day to put their best face forward, I do not. Instead, I smooth my skin and emphasize my eyes digitally, and now you can do the same. Below are some examples of what PhotoScape can do for you. Enjoy!

I love turning an otherwise unremarkable picture into something special. I like
to think that this picture of my son looks surreal, like something out of a dream.

I ordered a 5X7 print of this picture from and it came in the mail a few
days later. Now it is framed and on display with various other "old" family photos.

I have heightened the color and softened the edges of this picture, giving the appearance
of a wind-chapped face. It was cold that day, but not so much in our hotel room,
which is where this photo was taken.

What are your favorite photo-editing tools? (I used to like scissors and glue, but now the grown-up me prefers something more sophisticated and less "messy.")


  1. Very cool! I use Picasa and really like it...sounds like a similar program. And I did take classes in Photoshop ages ago and just didn't want to spend the money! I love the idea of making the new picture old to match your old photos. I'm going to have to copy that idea!

  2. I've never tried Picasa, but I'm aware of it. With Picasa, you get a web album, too, right? You don't with PhotoScape, but you can share your images online I think. Yeah, I took a graphic design class in college and of course we used Photoshop. There is also a similar program called GIMP, which I think is free, but for my purposes, these programs are too complex. I subscribe to the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid) of doing things as I am really bad at memorization and if I don't use a program every day, I forget how. But I do love PhotoScape and I rarely leave an image un-edited, even if all I did was crop or brighten the picture.

  3. Also, PhotoScape is good for combining pictures, as seen above, or laying them out more like a scrapbook page. But you do have to edit the images individually before you combine them if they need cropped or anything. Once they are combined, any additional effects will apply to the whole shebang.

  4. I think you do get a web album, but I really don't use it. I really just have time to do things simple and I hate the editing tools that come with most of the photo sites (snapfish or shutterfly) but I do love their deals! So it's easier if I can get the pics looking the way I want...especially red eye. That drives me crazy.

  5. Red eye, the bane of a photographer's existence, lol. There is a red eye removal tool on PhotoScape, and it's okay, but for some reason doesn't always work. You can also remove a certain color tone from the picture, though, so if your picture is blue-tinged, for instance, you can either remove the blue or add some red or yellow to even the color balance. Sometimes that helps even when the red eye tool fails. The tool that I find most frustrating is the Color Enhance tool, which sometimes works beautifully, but more often than not gives me a red polka dotted face. If I remove the white noise and smooth my complexion, sometimes I can get it to work better. It's fun to just play with it though and see what I can come up with. I also like the pictorialization effects where I can make a photo look like a painting or a pencil drawing. Again, those tools aren't perfect, but if you play with it a bit, you can come up with some interesting effects. And that's what it is, my way of playing, so I don't mind.

  6. I'll have to check photoscape out--thanks for the suggestion! I love the old-time looking photo of the babies . . . that is just adorable :-)