I'm no photographer or Photoshop specialist, but I thought I would share some tips of the tools that I use on a weekly basis when editing my photos. Some of these things took me a while to figure out, but they're so useful and easy to use when you get your head around them, that I thought it might be nice to share them with anyone that's interested!
Ever taken a picture, only to find it's not exactly straight? The Ruler tool is fantastic for fixing these issues. Simply draw a line over the place you would expect to be straight, then click image > image rotation > arbitrary and the perfect rotation angle will be ready & waiting.
Obviously, you will need to crop your new image, meaning you will lose a little bit of the outer edges, however, I usually find it's nothing too drastic and helps give that 'I have an internal built spirit level' look.
Save For Web
Possibly the most useful of all the tools on Photoshop, in my opinion, is the 'save for web' option. If you take pictures on your DSLR, your file size will be huge, which is great if you ever want them printed, etc. but for the purpose of your blog, a lot smaller file size will result in images loading quicker and ultimately saving space wherever you upload them to.
I personally save mine to 650px as that is the width of my blog column; meaning, when I upload them and click 'original image size' my image and text will be in perfect alignment. Which not only looks nice & tidy, but (supposedly) helps the readers eye not have to jump around the page. (This blog post may help you find out the width of your post column!)
Ah, actions. Actions are my best friend. They make editing photos so much quicker & generally make them look a lot better too. Actions essentially take away the process of layering filters & adjustments on top of each other and basically do all the hard work for you. They can be as simple as altering the brightness/contrast or can completely give your photos a whole different feel.
Some of my favourites are from Paint the Moon(they have a couple of freebies too), but there are also some great free downloads available online, particularly on Deviantart. Also, if you like the Afterlight app, then you will love Simon Filip as he has a whole set of free actions that are wonderful.
Once you have them downloaded, simply open your image (I recommend adjusting contrast/brightness manually first) then hit the play button and watch as your image transforms! Don't forget you can always adjust the opacity of your action too, in case you want things a little more subtle!
If you're generally happy with your image and just want to alter a couple of things, the adjustment layers button is for you. It's really worth playing around with the options on the list as you can really improve your image with just a few easy clicks.
Curves is always wonderful to make your whites whiter (sounds like a washing tablet advert) or your blacks darkerwhich will give your photo a bit more depth. Or if you wish to cancel out yellow tones, for example, you can lay a blue photo filter over the top to cancel them out slightly. Exposure & Vibrance can also be great little tools to pep up a particularly dark image or alternatively bring back some detail from an over-exposed photo.
I appreciate not everyone has Photoshop, but that doesn't mean you can't edit your photos. There are plenty of options on the internet that can help you, including Pixlr & PicMonkey. Also, if you're an iPad or iPhone user, it's not out of the question to edit your photos on Afterlight, Vsco Cam or Snapseed, just save at the highest quality, et viola!
I personally find PicMonkey very useful when making YouTube thumbnails as you can choose your dimensions (1280 x 720, if you're interested!) and insert pictures to your hearts content. They even have some pretty great fonts to choose from too!
I hope this has been of some interest or help! As I said, my images are never perfect & I'm definitely not a professional, but these are just a few of the things I use to help get my images to how I want them to be.