Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fun with Photo Editing - Round 1!

I recently found an awesome free photo editing program that is sooo amazing and so of course I have to share!

As a side job I occaisionally take photos for people - mostly senior photos or family photos, and a couple of wedding receptions. I used to do all my photo editing with Photoshop Elements - because I'm too cheap to spend $500 on the real Photoshop and because Elements is like the "For Dummies" version of Photoshop and has basic editing on it. I do everything from basic edits to brighten/saturate/white balance, to more time consuming beautify steps like teeth whitening, skin touchs up, eye brightening, etc. And all those steps can be a little time I've been keeping my eyes open for something a little quicker to use that wasn't super expensive and hard to learn and didn't take me a gazillion steps and layers to get the looks I wanted.

And then one day....I tried PicMonkey and the clouds parted and rainbows filled the sky and butterflies danced and unicorns frolicked while I ran through the mountains my house singing.

It's an awesome photo editing program because:

1) It's free!
2) It's super easy
3) Its super quick for touch ups
4) Its super intuitive to use
5) It has super cool effects 

In a nutshell, it is super duper.

(And I am SUPER dorky, ha ha, but I'm really jazzed about how awesome and easy this program is. And did I mention its free?) And because I'm so excited, I just need to share - so I thought I would do a whole series of posts about how I use PicMonkey to edit the photos - in case you were looking for a cool photo program, or intidimated when it comes to photo editing. :)

Round 1:

Four quick ways to use PicMonkey to snazz up a simple dog photo and make it all sepia-ish and lovely.

Our lovely model Bailey - photo straight out of the camera, no flash.

Bailey, my aunts dog, in Idaho Falls 

First I cropped it - keeping the "Rule of Thirds" (golden ratio) in mind.

Option 1 - Subtle improvements.

I tried the Auto Adjust feature at first (sometimes I have really good luck with this feature!) but this time it took away the shadows of her face which is my favorite part of the photo.
So then I used the color saturation and bumped it up a tiny amount (4). (On all my photos I usually up the color saturation, contrast, brightness and highlights a bit - just to make them pop more. But for this one I just did the color saturation)

And then I went to "Touch Up" tool, and used the eye brighten feature and I used it on her eye, and her nose. You just click where you want it to brighten - voila!

Looks more Straight Out of the Camera/Natural - what I like usually.

Option 2 - Adding lightness and soft glow using "Orton" effect

For Option 2, then I went in and used the "Orton" Effect. At full strength (0%*) its way too much for me - I wanted something subtle and soft. So I adjusted the Fade to 81%, Brightness 62% and Bloom 61%. 

This is probably my favorite one - very natural, but soft.

Option 3 - Adding more light and softness using "Dusk" effect

I used the "Dusk" effect at full strength = 0%*. But then it was really dark (the small pic on the left, blech!) so then I went into exposure and increased the Highlights (to 30), Shadows (5) and Contrast (6). I just played around until it looked brighter and right to me. :)

*The scale is the only weird thing about PicMonkey that I don't quite get. Why is full strength 0%, shouldn't it be 100%?  Maybe 0% means 0% of the the original photo/un-effected photo is visible, and at 100% it means 100% of original photo is showing....? Someone want to explain this to me?

Ok, maybe this is my favorite.

Option 4 - More fancy pants/angelic ol' timey style

I used "Orton" again, set to 49%. (You're probably thinking again with the Orton?! But its soooo purty and I like how it makes things richer and brighter!)

Then I used "Cross Process" set to real rhyme or reason for that number, just  because that's what looked good to me.

As you work on photos I think you just have to play around a bit and find what looks nice. You can't necessarily apply the same scales and layers and have it look perfect with every photo. Plus, that's half the fun - stumbling across new styles!

A more stylized photo

So those are just four quick actions I like - there's lots more you can do! (I also use it write text on my photos and for graphics like I did in this post)

Next round I'll show you how I use PicMonkey to beautify photos of people - from teeth whitening, blemish fixing, etc - and more favorite effects of mine to really snazz up landscapes and more pet photos!

Do my steps make sense? And if you've tried PicMonkey, what effects do you like?

Happy editing!

~ K.

*Please note I do not work for PicMonkey, nor am I paid to endorse them. I'm just a nerd who loves getting artsy fartsy with photos and spreading the fun.*


  1. PicMonkey Rocks! I am so glad they offer free online programs like this!

  2. Me too! Let's just hope they keep it free :)


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