Saturday, 16 October 2010

PP Tips 3 - Using Windows Live Photo Gallery

This is part of a 'How To' series on post process work.

Having used Photoshop for more than a dozen years, it is easy to be dismissive of anything other.

I like to be open-minded though and try out other packages. Recently, I saw some images which had been edited using Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG) and I was very impressed with how they had come out.

WLPG is free from Microsoft and there are versions available for XP and Win 7. As I have machines running both, I downloaded both versions. I found the Win 7 version to be a little better than the XP one.

Anyway, I decided to have a play with it and see how it worked.

I'll give you my brief impressions here :
  • It is quick and easy to use
  • The Auto Adjust function, typically, does a very good job
  • Using Fine Tune allows a reasonable degree of control to adjust what Auto Adjust has done, or to do other things it hasn't
  • There are a couple of 'Gotchas' and I will cover those later in the commentary
Below, I will show you some of the steps which can be used to perform some adjustments using WLPG.

Note : It may be difficult to see all the functions mentioned here, so please follow the commentary also. Clicking on any image will take you to a larger size of that image.

First, the image I wish to adjust opened in the WLPG edit window.

Step 1
Here I have used the Auto Adjust button (highlighted in yellow) to simply apply WLPG's interpretation of how the image should look.

Simply, it has lightened the image and straightened it slightly.

Step 2
Clicking the Fine Tune button, opens a pane at the right hand side which shows four headings :
  • Adjust Exposure, Adjust Color, Straighten, and also Adjust Detail
Clicking these headings then opens the sub-panes showing the adjustment parameters available. At the top right of some is a green tick. If this is shown, then these are the functions which Auto Adjust has adjusted.

Note : Under the Auto Adjust button, there is a drop down where you can select 'Settings' and then by checking/unchecking the boxes, set which adjustments will be affected by Auto Adjust. 

Step 3
Here I have used Fine Tune to make very slight adjustments to Contrast and Tint.

I have also pulled the Shadows slider a little to the left. This darkens the background slightly, which helps to isolate the subject.

Step 4
Clicking the Adjust Detail button automatically enlarges the image to 100%.

Clicking the Reduce Noise/Analyze button, will automatically determine the amount of noise reduction (NR) which WLPG thinks should be applied. The slider below this can be used to fine tune how much NR is actually applied.

Here, I have elected to accept the automatic settings, but have increased the Sharpen slider very slightly.

Step 5
Here I have made a very slight adjustment to Straighten Photo, and then selected Make A Copy.

Earlier I mentioned that WLPG has a couple of Gotchas, this is one of them. If you simply close the image that you have been working on, then the adjustments will be applied to the original. Not a good idea.

So, make sure you select Make a Copy and rename the image.

Step 6
After selecting 'Make A Copy', select where you wish to save the image, and also give it a name.

I use the original file name and simply add WLPG AA. This lets me know I made the adjustments in WLPG using Auto Adjust.

Step 7
The second Gotcha.

After saving the copy, it is very important to understand that the original image still is the adjusted version. Click the 'Revert To Original' button before closing the image.

Well, that's it. Quite simple and straightforward. I have only recently started using WLPG, but I have found it very quick and easy if I just want to do some fast edits.

The original image.

The adjusted image.


Other posts in this series - Click here for the index page.


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