TechieTalk: Happy New Year: Photography Tweaks, Panoramas, and Tilt Shifts

By Roy Mathur, on 2013-01-07, for the Independent Daily, Mauritius (in which an edited version appeared)

America, America, America, if it's not Google this, it's Apple or Microsoft that. Except this week, when there doesn't seem to be anything amazing happening in America that doesn't involve the mysterious phrase "fiscal cliff".

So today, just as we settle into the shiny new year, instead of explaining why your shouldn't have bought the iPad Mini for Christmas, we'll instead show you how to make the best of your holiday season photographs.

Photo Editing Basics

We have already covered a variety of photographic tweaks in TechieTalk, but here's a quick recap before we go onto more exciting topics like creating tilt-shifts and panoramas.

First you will need photo editing software, I recommend either the latest version of Adobe Photoshop if you have a fast PC, Paintshop Pro 5.03 if you do not and Pixlr if you only have access to a web browser ( it must be Flash capable though).

Next, the very easiest tweaks involve cropping your photograph and, especially if you are using a smartphone which seem to frequently produce washed out images, add some contrast and reduce brightness.

Crop by selecting the marquee tool from the toolbar, usually a square made up of dashes, and draw a rectangle around the stuff you want to keep. Then select Crop from the menu.

Make your photos bolder by adjusting the Brightness and Contrast from the menu. Set Brightness to "-10" and Contrast to "+10".

Creating Panoramas

Now on to more exciting stuff. Panoramas are those very wide and narrow photographs, commonly of a city's skyline or a mountain range. There are many ways to make them, but here are two of the easiest.

First, if you have an iDevice, you'll probably find that the Camera App already has this function built-in. Just follow the on-screen instructions. Another way is to simply cheat. For example, just stand far enough away from a city or mountain range, take the photograph and then crop to remove the detail you don't need. You can see an example of this above.

Tilt-Shift Photography

Over the past year or two tilt-shift photographs have been popping up all over the internet. These are images that have been specially manipulated to resemble artificially, hand-crafted, cute little miniatures. Cities look like brightly coloured toy-towns and landscapes like highly detailed models.

Begin by taking a nice scenic photo with plenty of subject detail. You can now turn these into tilt-shifts manually using one of the photo editing suites mentioned above, but it's not very easy. Alternatively you could use a brilliant online program like Tilt Shift Maker. In the picture above, I randomly picked the web address of a pretty landscape picture from the internet and processed it with Tilt Shift Maker. As you can see, the results are quite impressive.

There is also a less sophisticated tilt-shift tool within Instagram that can do the same kind of transformation.

Happy snapping and see you next week.


Adobe Photoshop
Paint Shop Pro 5.03
Tilt Shift Maker

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