Make your pictures the best they can be!

Greetings, administrators!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Social Media Fridays post. Today I wanted to share a free online tool that will help those of you who have websites or use Facebook, and even those that put together printed newsletters.

We all know that it’s important to have great images to accompany your written text. Images catch readers’ attention, and can break up big sections of text. And on Facebook, images generate a whopping 53% more likes and 104% more comments* than regular posts! *according to this post

But your camera doesn’t always produce the greatest pictures on its own. Sometimes the light is bad. Sometimes the background is distracting. Sometimes it just doesn’t POP.

Enter online photo editors. We’ve all seen before and afters of what a little Photoshop can do. But we can’t all afford Photoshop. Luckily, there are lots of great FREE online photo editors that can help you spiff up your images so they really shine.

Here are a couple that are great:

I most often use Pixlr, simply because I’m used to it. Even though I have Photoshop, I find that sometimes it’s just easier! So to demonstrate just what you can do with Pixlr, I put together a couple of before and after photos.

Let’s start with this one, of some burrowing owls. Sunni Heikes-Knapton sent it to me to fix, because she wants to frame it and give it to a retiring supervisor (the photo was taken on his property, and as she said, “He really loves these little fluff balls”). The photo was taken by Ennis photographer Jayre Leech.

IMG_0033It needs some help, don’t you think?

So I went to Pixlr.com and opened up Pixlr Express. Because it’s easy. And fast.

First item on the list, and this is something I always do, is to go to Adjustments, and click Auto Fix. Which right away made an improvement.Screenshot 2015-09-10 16.25.06

BIG improvement. But I felt like it still needed some POP to really make those owls stand out. So I added a Vibrance Adjustment, and moved that up a little. I did the same thing for a Contrast Adjustment.

Then I used a little trick to really center the viewer’s attention on the owls, and not all that distracting grass.

I added a Focal Adjustment, which blurs out and desaturates the edges of the photo, so that the center stands out the most with the most detail. It mimics the effect that a good photographer could create by changing the settings on their fancy camera.

Screenshot 2015-09-10 16.29.04

 

I still wanted a little more warmth in the photo, so I added an Effect. I chose Subtle, and Ian, and toned it down to about 51. I also added an Overlay Vignette (I chose “bubble”) and toned that down to 34 to subtly darken the corners of the photo, once again adding focus on the owls in the center.

Here’s the final:

owls

 

Now if I wanted to make this all the way fancy, I could add a heavier effect, and some text. This would be great for putting on Facebook and such.

fluffballs

Let’s recap how much better these barn owls look after a little editing:

owl collage

 

And all of that was done in about under ten minutes! Pretty sweet, right? Just think how much better EVERYTHING will look once you get the hang of it. I bet you could make your workshop photos look a little bit more like Beyonce’s Instagrams if you tried. (That’s a good thing).

How else could you use this tool? What if you put together a quick little advertisement to remind people that you have a Soil Health Workshop coming up! This would be perfect to post on Facebook or in your newsletters to catch people’s attention.

img w txt

 

UPDATE: 10/22/2015

After I posted this post, Ginger Kauffman (Flathead CD) emailed me say that she used Pixlr to edit some 310 photos that a supervisor brought in that were too dark. She said, “we can now see what is in the photos!  Thanks for the great tip!”.

Sunni Heikes-Knapton (Madison CD) also emailed to say that she has been “using the heck out of Fotor” and loves it. She also said that she would add one tip:

I would add one thing to your great advice- and that’s for people to remember to give credit to the photog that took the image. Of course, a real professional has their name on the image already, but it can be a nice gesture and a way to build a relationship with a community member when credit is given to non-professional photogs.

Thanks for the feedback, ladies!