Enhance photos using iPhoto for Mac OS X

iPhoto has gained an array of new options to help give your images a professional finish. This tutorial shows how to make use of them.

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iPhoto provides an impressive and easy-to-use set of options for organising and browsing your photo library. However, it also has a number of editing tools that you can use to spruce up your images.

These aren’t always as straightforward as you might expect, though, so it’s worth taking a closer look at some of these to see how you can use them to enhance your photos.

Read:

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iPhoto provides an impressive and easy-to-use set of options for organising and browsing your photo library. However, it also has a number of editing tools that you can use to spruce up your images.

These aren’t always as straightforward as you might expect, though, so it’s worth taking a closer look at some of these to see how you can use them to enhance your photos.

Read:

 

Step 2 of 10:

First, switch to full-screen mode. Hit the Edit button in the bottom-right corner and this set of Quick Fix editing tools will appear. These include an Enhance option, which allows iPhoto to automatically try and improve the colours within your images.

This shot doesn’t look too bad, but some of the colours are a little pale, so we’ll hit Enhance and see what happens.

 

Step 3 of 10:

Here’s a Before/After comparison of the Enhance option.

The colours on the left are much brighter than in the original (on the right). This shot is a good candidate for using the Enhance option, as the lighting is good and there’s a range of different colours, which gives iPhoto plenty of data to work with.

Unfortunately, things aren’t always quite so straightforward.

 

Step 4 of 10:

This photo looks pretty washed out, with a combination of white snow and clouds overwhelming the colours in other areas of the image.

Enhance won’t have much effect, so click on the Adjust tab in the top-right corner to see a more advanced set of controls for adjusting settings, including contrast and exposure.

Above these is the Levels histogram.

 

Step 5 of 10:

The Levels histogram shows the levels of black and white in each image.

The little slider on the far left indicates the amount of ‘pure’ black in the image, while the one on the far right indicates pure white.

The slider in the middle corresponds to the grey mid-tones in the photo.

 

Step 6 of 10:

Click on the ‘black’ slider on the far-left of the histogram.

Drag the slider a little to the right – to about the 10% point.

This boosts the black levels and gives us a slightly crisper image.

Be careful, though, as too much black will overwhelm the detail in areas that are already dark – such as clothing and hair.

 

Step 7 of 10:

Next, click the saturation slider. Drag it to the right to increase the intensity of other colours, such as those blue trousers.

There’s a risk when increasing colour saturation that faces can end up with an orange perma-tan, so tick the box marked ‘Avoid saturating skin tones’.

iPhoto will boost blues and greens, while toning down areas of skin.

 

Step 8 of 10:

This high-res photo has plenty of detail, so we don’t need to use the Definition or Sharpness tools.

The Highlights tool can be used to tone down areas that are over-exposed, but here we want to use the Shadows tool.

Sliding it to the right helps to lighten the darkest areas, bringing out more detail in areas such as the subject’s black hair and the shadows around his face.

 

Step 9 of 10:

There’s one other thing that’s bugging us here, so we’ll return to the Quick Fix panel and use the Retouch tool to brush away the snowflakes that are in front of his face. However, this highlights iPhoto’s main weakness.

It’s great for making ‘global’ changes that affect the entire image, but doesn’t provide many options for selecting and editing specific small details.

 

Step 10 of 10:

Apple is aware of these limitations, so includes an option that lets you edit your photos in other apps.

Open iPhoto’s Preferences panel and click Advanced to see this pull-down menu.

This lets you organise and browse your photo collection in iPhoto, but when you press the Edit button, it will launch Photoshop Elements so you can edit your photos in that program.

Read: iPhoto and Preview tips for free photo editing on a Mac

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