Even when you reach the point of wonderfully {Working With What You’ve Got} there’s going to be times where you review your images and think to yourself ‘Why didn’t I see that when I was taking the picture?’.  Have no fear, our next article is here!

Just because what you’ve captured isn’t picture perfect, does not mean it can’t be… or at least close!  Trust me when I tell you, the photos you spend hours and hours online viewing, and drooling over, are not straight out of the camera!  They have been processed, and these touches can not only help you with the {Oops! Now What?!} but they can also add interest and style.

There are a lot of free options when it comes to basic photo editing software.  Your camera or computer (or both!) likely came with software that can be used to make these edits.

No matter what software you choose, you should be able to make the following corrections.

Crop Your Images

One of the most impactful things you can do to a photo is crop it.  This is the digital way of cutting out the less important parts of your image.  Typically, you should try to crop to standard proportions, as it will be much easier to order prints later.  Don’t forget that a square crop is becoming more and more popular and can really add interest to kids pictures!  Consider cropping your images tight (close up) to place the focus on the details.

Color Correction

When taking a picture, especially if you are in full or partial automatic mode, your camera is making certain assumptions and guesses.  Typically color is one of the items on that guess list.  If you’ve heard the term, White Balance, it is referring to that process.  By adjusting your white balance, you take most of the guess work away from your camera, and tell it exactly how to process the image with regard to color.  (Which is why, once again, I am recommending you read your camera manual!) For this example, we’re going to assume that didn’t happen, and now your image has an unrealistic color cast.

Almost all photo editing software programs have a color correction function of some kind.  Higher end programs will allow this to be changed manually, however even the most basic should have a way to correct the color.  Keep in mind that sometimes unexpected color can be beautiful and should not be corrected – I absolutely love the warm light a sunset casts on people, and will often leave that warmth in my picture.

Lighting and Contrast

What if the color tones are perfect, but the picture is too dark?  No problem.  Along with color correction, there are brightness and contrast functions in even the most basic software.  However, you don’t want to use this too much, or the quality of the image will deteriorate, and detail will be lost.

Sharpening

The fact is, kids are fast.  Sometimes, you and your camera just can’t keep up, creating blur in your images.  Look for a sharpening tool in your editor and either sharpen a specific area or the whole photo.  Sharpening, however, like all things, should be done in moderation.  Over sharpened images can make faces look downright scary, so play with this tool until you are comfortable with it!

Red Eyes and Blemishes

Photo editing software will have some form of red-eye correction and blemish removal tools.  Some require you to click the red-eye and it will automatically darken the red pupil, and some require you to paint the pupil black with your tool.  Either way, the result is the same.

Blemishes can be a bit trickier.  Some programs have a specific blemish remover, which can make things a lot easier, but sometimes don’t give perfect results.  Others have a ‘clone’ or ‘clone stamp’ option.  When using this tool, you are basically copying the information from one part of the image, and placing on another.

The clone tool can be used for all sorts of things.  I have removed a bit of ‘mommy tummy’ by cloning the bottom of the bathing suit to help act as a cover up, I have extended beautiful brick work behind a chubby baby, as well as more common things such as getting rid of ugly grass in an image, etc.  This tool is invaluable once you know how to use it, so zoom into your image, and practice, practice, practice!

Embrace Your Boo-Boos

I absolutely love taking not-quite perfect pictures and turning them into something artsy and fun!  Many people can have everyone look at the camera, smile nicely, and click the button.  Not many people capture, and love pictures of only half of their kids faces as they run to go play with friends, or just the little hands covering the mouth where giggles are freely flowing.  These pictures can be priceless, as long as you take the time to create something fun and interesting by embracing your boo-boos.  After you’ve downloaded your pictures, really scour your photos for not only what you were able to capture, but what they could be.

Obviously there are many more things you can do to improve your images, and there is only so much you can do to a photo to improve the appearance.  Things like focus and overall quality of the image are nearly impossible to correct, so if it’s blurry, there’s a good chance it will never look perfect.

However, taking the time to know your camera and your editing software can make a huge difference.  For less than $100 I picked up Photoshop Elements and used it for years before I went pro.  One of my favorite things about the program is it has the ability to easily merge two photo together, resize with ease, and it includes some fun digital scrapbooking tools such as frames and templates.  When you consider how many holiday presents can be created at home, (Grandparents LOVE photos of your kids!) the costs involved seem to be a reasonable trade-off.  I highly recommend this program for scrapbooking and card crafting mama’s.  Plus, they offer storage solutions, so you may have already selected Elements based off of our {Perfect Preservation} recommendation!

Once you’ve got your camera and editing software down, chances are you’ll be Going From Mom, To Moment Master, and saying {Oops! Now What?!} a lot less!

Stay Tuned for our next article in the Going From Mom, To Moment Master series, titled {Pretty Prints}