Today I learnt that making adjustments to images when you’re too tired is probably a bad idea 🙁

So my task today was to use the history feature in Photoforge2 to work out where I might have gone wrong.

Here’s my original photo:

It’s a photo of baby Tenten from Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort Orangutan Rehabilitation centre.

Original image

Here’s my image after editing with Photforge2:

Feels like I’ve thrown out the colors a bit and perhaps made too dark.

Photoforge2 edit

And for a quick comparison I used Camera+ Auto adjust.

Here’s the Camera+ image:

Camera + image

Here’s a comparison of the changes made using screenshots from the history tool:

Photoforge2 history

Adjustments made were:

  • Brightness/contrast
  • Exposure
  • Vibrance
  • Shadows/highlights
  • White Balance

Where did I go wrong? Thinking shadows/highlights and White balance.

Your thoughts?

8/366: More advanced image editing with masks and layers using Photoforge2

Yesterday I learnt the basics of using masks and layers to selectively color a portion of my image while rendering the rest of the image black and white.

But the real power of masks and layers are they give you the flexibility to create really artistic photo by applying different adjustments or filters to each layer and combining objects from different photos into the one image. This is what I was keen to try….but I needed to learn to walk before running.

Today’s challenge was to combine two images into the one image using more advanced mask and layer skills using Photoforge2.

I’ve been participating in ashcroft54‘s photo app pimp challenge on Instagram so decided to combine her photo with one of my photos from our holiday.

You can check out all the different photos submitted for her ashcroft54_pimp4 challenge here. The participants are creating some amazing photos from her original photo and participating in these types of challenges are a great way of watching the different techniques people use. I found out about the challenge through my friend Developit who participates in a wide range of iphoneography challenges and competitions.

Here’s the two photo’s I used:

Original photos used

Here’s what the mask and layers looked like before creating my final image:

I adjusted the brightness/contrast, vibrance, exposure, white balance, sharpened, highlights/shadows and added a dreamy filter to both images after creating the mask to select the Yogurt factory from ashcroft54 original image.

Mask and layers used

After flattening the image I then imported it into Photogene2 to add a bit of dodge retouches. I also tried a bit of comic effects retouches.

Here’s the final version of the image I submitted for the challenge:

Final edit

However, part of me thinks the comic effects retouches is even more creative. Would love to know others’ thoughts?

Comic edit version

Fairly happy with my progress and definitely been a fun learning experience. If you would like to try it I would start with a basic mask and layering activity like I did in yesterday’s post followed by a more complicated one like today’s task.

7/366: Intro to using masks and layers using Photoforge2

Layers are a fundamental element of image editing. Layers let you create multiple copies of the same image, or introduce new images, and then enables you to edit each layer independently of each other.

You can apply different adjustments, filters and masks to each layer and add, delete, rearrange the stacking order (by dragging), then set different blend modes for each layer to change the appearance of the final version. Once finished layers can be merged down or flattened to create your new image. Layers gives you the flexibility to create really artistic photos; this is how you can combine objects from different photos into the one image.

My task today was to learn the basics of working with layers and masks using Photoforge2. I did this by following Photoforge2 layering and masking tutorial to selectively color a portion of my image while rendering the rest of the image black and white.

Here’s the before and after image:

Before and after

I’ve never worked much with layers or masks so doing basic layering following the Photoforge2 tutorial really helped me gain a good grasp of how these techniques could be applied to more complex image editing.

But first off what are mask layers? Basically everything behind the mask you create is not visible and everything else is visible except you can also choose how opaque it is (it’s level of visibility). Masks are used to add specific adjustments or effects to selective parts of your image or to add selected objects from another photo into your image.

The secret of Layer masks in Photoforge2 is it works the same as using Photoshop on your desktop: the color WHITE shows or reveals the image AND the color BLACK hides or masks the image.

Here’s what hidden and visible areas look like when working with a mask in Photoforge2:

Example of a mask in Photoforge 2

Here’s what the mask layer looks like when almost completed:

Mask layer

The Photoforge2 layering and masking tutorial is really good for learning these basic techniques but here’s some really important tips that aren’t covered in their tutorial that will help you:

1. Zooming in/out

Zooming in on the image when applying the mask is important for getting it right up to the edges of the area you want to select. You zoom in/out in Photoforge2 using the same two finger pinch you use with any app on an iPad or iPhone.

2. Lock your screen in Portrait orientation

It’s better to lock your screen to portrait orientation, especially when zooming in on the image, because any tilt that triggers it to change to landscape orientation and automatically zooms out the image.

How embarrassing — but I’ve never bothered to learn how lock my ipad2 in different orientations. You can read how to do it here.

Locking your screen

3. Adjust your brush size when zooming close to edge of image.

It’s the same concept as using Photoshop on your desktop. Initially you work with the larger brush size and then when you’re ready to go close to the edges of our image you adjust the brush size smaller for increased control.

Changing brush size

4. Purchase a stylus

If you’re planning to do a lot of work using masks than a good stylus pen provides more control and is better than using your finger. I left mine at home 🙁 They can be purchased from any shop that supplies iPhone/iPad accessories.

5. Switch between the colour black and white to add/remove mask when you make a mistake.

Remember the secret of Layer masks in Photoforge2 is it works the same as using Photoshop on your desktop: the color WHITE shows or reveals the image AND the color BLACK hides or masks the image.

Here’s how to change to black:

Change to black

Here’s how to change to white:

Changing to white

6. Remember you can use the history to revert

Don’t forget you can revert back to previous versions, at any time, using the history feature.

Here’s my completed edit:

It isn’t perfect but that’s cool as it achieved my goal of learning the basics! Now I’m off to try some more advanced layer skills.

Completed version

5/366: Photoforge2 vs Photogene2

Based on my research Photoforge2 and Photogene2 are the current high end editors for iPhones and iPads.

These two image editing apps are the best choice for adjusting options such as Curves, Levels, Channel Mixer, Un-Sharp Mask, Sharpen, HSL, White Balance, Shadows & Highlights, Brightness & Contrast, Exposure Adjustment, Noise Reduction, Vibrance if you are looking for extensive control and high resolution. Like high end desktop editors their slightly more complex to learn but their results are considerably better than most other image editors. Both work slightly differently and provide alternative features.

They both also include FX effects, frames and other tools you’ll find in other photography apps.

My task today involved comparing each apps to decide which I preferred using for image editing.

To be honest they’re both excellent apps. Currently I’m favoring Photoforge2 because:

    It’s a universal app designed for both the iPad and iPhone. Photogene2 is an iPhone app so it’s interface isn’t as good on an iPad.
    I like the extra features it includes such as history and layers.
    It has great online tutorials.

I’m sure I’ll end up alternating between each based on what I’m doing.

UPDATE: Here’s other aspects I’ve learnt about each app as I’ve worked more with each.

  • Photogene2 handles cropping and rotating images better than Photoforge2. I find image cropping very frustrating with Photoforge2.
  • Photogene2 includes a collage maker which is handy.
  • Really love the history feature of Photoforge2 which allows me to quickly compare each change and then revert back to a previous change.
  • Prefer how adjustments work in Photoforge2 compared to Photogene2.
  • Both have frame options but feel more limited than some other photo apps.

I deliberately choose an image that would normally be trashed to see how many adjustments were possibl to improve it.

It’s the same image I used previously with Photogene2.
Here’s the original image:

Original image

The photo was taken at Singapore Night Safari where you weren’t allowed to use flash.

Here’s the image after editing with Photogene2:

3/366: Resolution and photography apps
Here’s the image after editing with Photoforge2:
5/366: Photoforge2 vs Photogene2

I also did some testing with a better quality photo to see if I actually improved it or made it worse.

Here’s the original photo:
Original photo

Here’s the photo after manipulating using Photoforge2:

After manipulation

Here’s a couple of collages showing the history feature of Photoforge2 in action for comparison of impact of changes:

Photo of Singapore Flyer

History feature of Photoforge2

Photo of jellyfish at Singapore Underwater World
History feature of Photoforge2

I’m posting a day early due to travel commitments.

4/366: Learning image manipulation using Photoforge2

Yesterday while waiting on the bus to go to our next tour stops I spent time checking out the other image editing apps on my iPhone and realized that Photoforge2, like Photogene2, saves high resolution images to your camera roll.

Photoforge2 has extensive image manipulation options including Curves, Levels, Channel Mixer, Un-Sharp Mask, Sharpen, HSL, White Balance, Shadows & Highlights, Brightness & Contrast, Exposure Adjustment, Noise Reduction, Vibrance but works very differently from Photogene2.

So today’s task was to spend time learning how to use Photoforge2 by trying each image manipulation option.

This is a very cool app. Took me a bit of time initially to appreciate how it worked. Best aspects I loved was unlike many photo apps it edits the full resolution image. While it does take longer to process it’s worth the wait.

The other aspect I really loved was the ability to compare changes you’ve made and easily convert back to a previous change.

UPDATE: I started my image editing apps journey by initially using image editors I was already familiar with. As the week progressed I learnt about resolution, it’s impact on clarity and adjusted the image editors I used accordingly by moving onto the high end image editors Photoforge2 and Photogene2.
Here’s my original photo:

Original photo

It’s a photo of a Leafy Sea Dragon at Singapore Aquarium. I choose it because it’s a bit blurred and I wanted to see if I would be able to sharpen the image, improve colors, highlights etc.

Here’s my photo after manipulating it using Photoforge2:

4/366: Learning image manipulation using Photoforge2

Here’s how to access the image adjustment options:

After manipulating with Photoforge2

Here’s how easy it is to view history and revert to previous change.

How to view previous changes

I’m posting it a day early because I’m flying tomorrow and may have limited Internet access.

3/366: Resolution and photography apps

In typical Sue fashion I’ve continued to ponder and research the impact of photography apps on image quality.

Probably an aspect that most don’t spend time agonizing about? But it feels logical to me to learn more about it if one day I decide to print some of the images.

So what have I learnt?

  • Resolution is the key to image clarity.
  • Photography apps vary considerably in terms of the resolution they use to save images.
  • There are many photography apps that only save images at low resolutions. While other apps give you a choice of which resolution you want to use when saving to camera roll
  • Avoid apps that only save low resolution images
  • Always work with the maximium resolution setting to ensure best clarity.
  • Always adjust your resolution setting when you install a new photography app to the maximum resolution before you start using it — better to do this from the start then to suddenly discover you’ve been saving at the lowest resolution.
  • Look for the i, gear icon or words like Settings, options inside the app to check and adjust the resolution.
  • One of the reasons why apps process images at lower resolution is it is less taxing on the iPhone’s software and hardware. Lower resolutions allows it to process faster while it’s less likely to crash the app.

So now the question is which of my image editing apps outputs images with the highest resolution? Well? It’s a bit challenging to fully road test as much as I’d like 🙁 Traveling overseas with just my iPad makes it more time consuming to do a more comprehensive comparison.

But my initial testing indicates that Photogene and Abode Photoshop Express save at lower resolution than some of my newer apps. Makes sense, to me, that there has been big improvements in functionality of these apps with time.

Based on my research it looks like of the apps I already have Photogene2 is the best option. It’s a brand new app and not an update of the original Photogene.

Besides having a wide range of image editing options, it allows you to export images at high resolution and fully supports the native 8 MP native resolution of the iPhone 4s.

Today’s task was to take a photo I normally couldn’t use and use Photogene2 to transform it by making adjustments to exposure, saturation, highlights, etc.

Here’s the original image:

Original image

The photo was taken at Singapore Night Safari where you weren’t allowed to use flash.

Here’s the image after editing with Photogene2:
3/366: Resolution and photography apps

Here’s where you’ll find adjustments in Photogene2.

Photogene2 adjustment options

The other important thing I learnt from this activity was iPhone vs iPad photography apps. I do most my editing on my iPad — for ease and old eyes. Photogene2 is an iPhone app and I nearly over looked it due to tendency to use iPad specific apps (bad idea).

2/366: Enhancing and fixing using Abode Photoshop Express

Image editing apps are considered “must have tools” because they include a variety of controls that allow you to alter and manipulate the image. What I love about them most is they allow you to transform a photo from one you might previously trashed into one worth keeping.

Sometimes it’s handy to enhance a photo using an image editing app before using other photography apps to transform it.

Each image editing app works slightly differently and offers different options.

Abode Photoshop Express, a free image editing app, is one of the more popular image editing apps. But it is the image editing app I’ve struggled to embrace compared to others.

My task today has been spending time enhancing a photo using Abode Photoshop Express.

I’ve learnt it really is very easy to use. Just choose the feature you want to use and drag your finger slowly across the screen to the left or right to adjust it in which ever direction you want.

Off course, in my typical Sue fashion, I’ve then started thinking about the impact of image quality when making changes using photography apps. Image quality is reduced. Does this matter? Depends on why you’re doing it. Sharing online — less of a concern but needs to be considered if you ever want to print an image (I think?).

UPDATE: I started my image editing apps journey by initially using image editors I was already familiar with. As the week progressed I learnt about resolution, it’s impact on clarity and adjusted the image editors I used accordingly by moving onto the high end image editors Photoforge2 and Photogene2.

Here’s the before photo:

Before Photoshop express

The photo was taken of Singapore Cable cars. I’ve change the exposure, saturation, highlights and cropped it.

Here’s the after photo:

After Photoshop Express

And here is how easy it is:

Just select what you want to adjust.
Select the option to adjust

Now drag your finger on the screen to make the changes.

Adjusting exposure in Photoshop Express

1/366: And so it begins…

The 365 Project has always fascinated me.  It’s impressive to watch photography skills improve as participants’ post their daily photos for a year.

And now I’ve decided to do my own 365 366 Project (smart idea to choose the year with the extra day 🙂 ) while focusing on what I want to gain out of the project.

I really enjoy using photography apps on my iPhone and iPad since my friend Developit introduced me to iPhoneography.  While I’ve got numerous photography apps and iPhoneography books I want to learn more about how to use these apps more effectively.

So my 366 Project is to focus on learning more about using different photography apps better… here’s hoping I’ll also improve my photography skills.

My rules?

  • Either my iPhone or camera to take the photo will be fine as is using photos I’ve taken previously.
  • Each day I’ll post about the different photography apps or techniques I use my iPhone or iPad to manipulate the image.
  • I’ll use my iPhoneography books to get me started (iPhone Obsessed and Create Great iPhone Photos).

I’m going to start it off this week with keeping it simple by focusing on apps for enhancing and fixing photos.  I’m cheating a bit since I already know a bit about using them.  But it all being my rules that’s okay since I’ve got limited time at the moment due to holidaying with the family.

I’m just going to use Photogene to adjust the image using the histogram — which I find is a great for those occasions where I want to quickly improve an image for uploading to Instagram. I also used the cropping tool to focus in closer on the orchid.

UPDATE: I started my image editing apps journey by initially using image editors I was already familiar with. As the week progressed I learnt about resolution, it’s impact on clarity and adjusted the image editors I used accordingly by moving onto the high end image editors Photoforge2 and Photogene2.

Auto adjust using histogram

So here’s my first 366 photo taken of one of the Orchid’s I saw while visiting the Orchid Garden at Singapore Botanic Gardens today.  The photo was already pretty good but I loved all the orchids so much that I wanted my first photo to be one of these ones.

Here’s the original photo:

Before photo

Here’s the photo after manipulating to enhance using:

After photo

Want to join? Feel free to take up the challenge (and make up your own rules).

This week I’m focusing on simple techniques for fixing and enhancing photos. Would love to hear what’s your favorite apps and how you use them!