Our simple and easy to follow photo editing tips will ensure you make the most out of every picture you take. Create photo products with the photos you edit so you have lasting reminders of your favourite moments.

First things first, you need to pick what photo editing tool you’re going to use. Photoshop has lots of advanced options but Paint or Preview in OS X will also work. Once you’ve picked the program get started with the basics…

How to make photos smaller

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Making a photo smaller can mean a number of things – crop or resize the image, or reduce the amount of space it takes up on your hard drive (file size).

Reducing the file size and/or resizing of an image

  1. If you need to crop the image at all, do that first as it reduces the file’s size
  2. Open the picture in the image editing program of your choice, and then look for something like Resize, Image Size, or Resample, usually contained in the menu bar under Edit
  3. Select the number of pixels you like for the reduced dimensions and save the image with a new file name using the Save As function. Make sure to click ‘maintain aspect ratio’ to keep the original shape of the photo.

Cropping an image

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Microsoft Paint users

  1. Open the image in Microsoft Paint
  2. Click on the Select tool and drag it around the portion you want to crop
  3. Once selected right-click the mouse anywhere in the selection and click Crop

Adobe Photoshop users

  1. Open the image in Adobe Photoshop
  2. Select the portion of the image you want to crop using the marquee tool
  3. Click Image
  4. Click Crop

How to put text on photos

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If you want to quickly add some text to an image for free and don’t need extra options, you can use Paint in Windows or Preview in OS X.

Microsoft Paint or Preview users

  1. Open the image in Paint or Preview. If you don’t have any other image editing programs installed, you can right-click on the image and select “Edit”. If you are using OS X, double-click the image to open it in Preview
  2. Click the “Text” button. This looks like an “A”, and is located in the toolbar along the top of the window. If you are using Preview, you will need to click the “Edit” button next to the search bar first
  3. Click and drag where you want the text field to be. This field will contain all of the text you type, and will only display the text that fits inside. You’ll be able to adjust the size of the field as you type
  4. Type your text. Before you start adjusting the formatting, type out the text you want to add so that you can see how it looks as you make changes. You can also adjust the font type and colour
  5. Review your text and save. Because these programs are basic, you won’t be able to make any changes without undoing the entire thing and starting over. Save the text by clicking outside of the text box

Tip: use an image editing program like Photoshop or GIMP for more options and control

Adobe Photoshop users

  1. Open the picture you want to add text to in your image editor. If you can’t afford Photoshop but still want access to more features than Paint, you can use the free GIMP image editing program
  2. Click the “Text” button. This will be located in your list of tools, typically on the left side of the screen.
  3. Click and drag to create a text box. When you create a text box, this will make a new layer. This is the biggest benefit to using an image editing program, as you can make changes to the text layer without affecting the original image
  4. Type your text. Before you start adjusting the formatting, type out the text you want to add so that you can see how it looks as you make changes. You can also change the font type and colour
  5. Use the other image editing tools to affect your text
  6. Use the Rotate tool to rotate your text on top of the image
  7. Transform tools will allow you to bend and shape the text to match your intended effect
  8. Most image editors will save the image as a project file unless you export it as an image, so make sure you set the format and quality settings when you save the final version

How to make your photos sharper

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Getting sharper photos can involve two different processes, but it’s much easier to adjust the way you take photos to make sure they’re sharp than to try to sharpen them afterwards.

Use manual focus

While the auto-focus in our cameras and lenses are often superb, nothing will get you consistently sharp images more than manual focusing—even in low light. Once you have switched to manual focus, simply adjust the focus ring until the details sharpen.

Mirror lock-up

When we take a photo, the mirror in our DSLRs slap up and down to let light into the sensor. This movement can shake the camera very slightly, which especially in longer exposures, can create a blurry image. Visit the in-camera menu and look for the mirror lock up option.

Clean your lens

Before and during every shoot, it is vital that we keep our lenses clean. Any dust or smudges can not only soften images, but can distort light and colours depending on the scene.

Use a tripod

The steadier you are the less likely your shot will be blurred – check out our tips (link to how to hold your camera).

If you have already taken the photo and it’s slightly blurry, there are lots of ways to edit it and many sharpening tools to adjust your photo. There are a lot of photo filters in apps like Google Photos, VSCO Cam and Instagram that can disguise blurriness and make it look arty.

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Tip: Photoshop has an array of very good sharpening tools, like Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen

How to merge photos

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Microsoft Paint users

  1. Right-click on one of the images you’d like to merge on your hard drive and scroll over the “Open with” option in the context menu. Select “Paint” from the sub-menu to open the image in Microsoft Paint.
  2. Click the downward-pointing arrow under the “Paste” button in the menu bar and click “Paste from.” Select your second image from its location on your hard drive and double-click on it. It will be pasted on top of the first image.
  3. Click and drag the second image around the Microsoft Paint window to reposition it; you can either leave it layered on top of the first image or you can move it to the side. Move your cursor to the edge or corner of the image and click and drag to resize it, if desired.
  4. Click the far-left button in the menu bar and select the “Save as” option to save the merged images as a new image.

Tip: you can move and resize a pasted image directly after inserting it but once you make other changes, like selecting a paint tool, the pasted image can no longer be edited independently of the background

Armed with these tips you’ll be able to make your photos look better than ever. So get out, start snapping and then create beautiful photo products with the photos you capture.