Digital Photo Basics
How to Crop and Resize a Photo
One of the advantages of using a digital camera is being able to edit your shots in all kinds of creative ways. Obvious edits might be, say, removing a blemish from someone's portrait or filling in someone's bald spot.
Beyond cosmetic editing, you can make pictures darker or lighter or change their contrast levels. You can even superimpose an object from one picture onto another, or change a trio of friends into a duo if you decide you no longer like one of them.
How to Crop a Photo
The first editing command most of us learn is cropping, i.e. eliminating all but the most essential part of a photo. Image-editing programs often come with phonebook-sized manuals that explain how to turn simple snapshots into works of art worthy of upscale gallery exhibits. The best I can offer here are some beginning tips.
Dozens of image-editing programs exist, each with its own set of tools and command structures — but I will only be specific about Windows Paint and Irfanview, since they are available to all users of Windows-based PCs. The former is found at Start>All Programs>Accessories>Paint, while the latter is free from www.irfanview.com.
Paint, as its name suggests, was designed more for "painting" a picture than for editing a photo. But it still has some useful photo-editing features. Let's say you have a cute shot of a laughing child, and would like to eliminate most of the extraneous background. Launch Paint, then click File>Open, which should take you to your My Pictures folder. Double-click the target photo.
Click on the rectangular "crop" tool in the upper right corner of the toolbar. Now hold down your left mouse button and draw a rectangle around the photo's subject, leaving just the amount of background you want. Then click Edit>Copy to copy your selection to the "invisible Windows clipboard."
Now click File>New to create space for your cropping. Answer NO when asked if you want to save the previous picture. Click Edit>Paste to display your cropped picture. Finally, go to File>Save As to give your cropped picture a name.
Doing the above with Irfanview is faster and easier. As before, use File>Open and double-click the target photo, which will automatically be in the "cropping" mode when displayed. Draw your rectangle and click the Toolbar Scissors, which will cut the cropped area from the picture. Next click the Toolbar "Paste" icon to make your cropped section replace the original photo. As always, use File>Save As to name the finished job. Your original will remain unchanged.
How to Resize a Picture
To re-size a picture in Paint, click Image>Stretch & Skew and choose your new dimensions. In Irfanview click Image>Resize/Resample.
Irfanview will also let you do some basic color enhancement by clicking Image>Enhance Colors. Paint has no such feature, but will let you change colors on a bit by bit (pixel by pixel) basis, and will also let you add text to a picture.
This is just the tip of the photo-editing iceberg, and you probably have software which will do lots of more sophisticated things.
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