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.