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The first steps in editing pictures

Organize your pictures - rotate them for viewing


Step one in image editing - Ensure the image is properly oriented. This picture was photographed in
Step one in image editing - Ensure the image is properly oriented. This picture was photographed in "portrait" mode, with the camera turned vertically. But it was stored horizontally, in landscape mode.

Good picture management calls for you to begin the editing process by organizing your images so they are properly-oriented for viewing.

Your first step in editing a digital image that was photographed in vertical (portrait) mode is to rotate it so it is properly oriented. (Pictures taken in landscape mode are already properly-oriented for viewing.)

An image that appears to be lying on its side ("horizontal" orientation) should be rotated to the vertical position in which it was originally photographed. Obviously, a horizontal image that was photographed in a horizontal orientation does not need to be rotated.

The rotate-image command may be as simple as clicking on "Image" in your image editing program and then on "Rotate canvas" before choosing either 90° CW (clockwise) or 90° CCW (counterclockwise).


SOME PROGRAMS MAKE IT EASY TO ROTATE A PICTURE VIEWED AS A THUMBNAIL

Many programs that permit you to view thumbnails of your image files (including Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office Picture Manager and Adobe PhotoShop) allow you to quickly and easily rotate a picture while you are viewing its thumbnail.

The three screen-captures on the right illustrate the steps required.

1. The top screen-capture shows an image (red arrow) that is in landscape mode and should be rotated counter-clockwise to portrait mode.

2. Right-click on the image to select it and to open a box that contains several command options.

3. Scroll down in the box to left-click on the "Rotate Clockwise" or "Rotate Counterclockwise" command, shown by the middle red arrow.

4. The image will now rotate in the direction you chose, as illustrated by the bottom screen capture. It is that easy.

ROTATE A BATCH OF PICTURES ALL AT ONCE

If you click on more than one image while holding down the Control key or the Shift key, you can select two or more pictures to be rotated in the same direction.

Once they are selected, right-click and choose the "Rotate Clockwise" or "Rotate Counterclockwise" command. All the selected images will now rotate in the direction you chose.

LARGE IMAGE FILES - Be prepared to wait

If your images are all low resolution, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how quickly a large number of them can be rotated.

But, if your picture files are fairly large and you have quite a few that need rotation all at once, you will need to wait a while for them to be processed, even if your computer is fast. Be patient and you will be rewarded with all your pictures properly oriented for viewing and editing.

Right-click on an image, click on a Rotate command, and that's that.
Right-click on an image, click on a Rotate command, and that's that.

The top picture was rotated clockwise by 5-degrees to level the horizon. It was then cropped to correct the picture's edges.
The top picture was rotated clockwise by 5-degrees to level the horizon. It was then cropped to correct the picture's edges.

BUT, WHAT IF YOU HAVE TO ROTATE AN IMAGE JUST A BIT?

Most of us are pretty good at hand-holding the camera to keep horizons fairly level in our pictures. But, when your pictures don't have a level horizon, they must be rotated to properly orient them. The angle of rotation needed is usually quite small, much less than 90°, in fact, more like 2° or 3°.

The good news is that you are not restricted to rotating an image precisely 90°. The rotate function in your image-editing program lets you flip a picture in very small increments until its horizon is dead level.

Adobe PhotoShop's image rotate command, for instance, has an "arbitrary" option that permits you to select a precise percentage for the angle of an image's rotation. PhotoShop Elements has the same option, but calls it "custom" instead of arbitrary.

The picture on top on the left obviously needs to be rotated. Its horizon is definitely not level.

Using PhotoShop's rotate command, experimentation showed that a 5° rotation would do the trick, resulting in the middle version, which now has a level horizon. But, the picture frame looks tilted because its edges are no longer perpendicular. The most common solution is to crop it so that its edges become properly oriented, and the final version of the picture (bottom) looks normal.

Note: There may be times when cropping a tilted picture will remove needed areas of the image. Rather than crop, you may wish to consider filling in blank areas using the rubber stamp tool.

It is good to become proficient with this "rotate-and-crop" procedure, since it is a common basic operation of image editing. However, it is not the most efficient way to rotate and crop. PhotoShop, PhotoShop Elements and most other image manipulation software programs have more than one tool that can be used to crop an image, including a very efficient one that permits you to rotate the image as you crop it. This tool is appropriately known as the "Crop tool".


SELECT THE CHOICE PICTURES; DELETE THE REST

An important consideration in preparing digital pictures for editing or simply to file pictures that may not need editing, is culling. You should take the time to review all the pictures in a new batch so you can toss out unsatisfactory or repetitive ones. There is no point keeping pictures that you won't ever use or that your subjects would be unhappy with. If you don't dump pictures that you won't ever use at the outset, your image file folders will be cluttered in no time.

One good way to view a batch of images is to employ a program that permits you to run a slideshow of your pictures, permitting you to examine them in detail.

When you have several similar-looking pictures that were taken in sequence and show only minor differences among one another, be ruthless in selecting only the best for editing, and cull the rest.

When a subject's eyes are closed when they should be open, or if she has a silly expression, don't hesitate to delete the picture right away.
When a subject's eyes are closed when they should be open, or if she has a silly expression, don't hesitate to delete the picture right away.


Further information...

Cropping digital images

Correcting an underexposed digital picture

Dodging, burning and sponging.
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