Back in the days of film, you had to take a lot of pictures to get a few good keepers. If we could, we'd take multiple shots at different exposures and speeds, looking to come up with the best result. Editing in processing was reserved for the professionals, who had access to expensive equipment and darkrooms - the rest of us just had to burn film and hope for the best.
Digital photography changed all of that. It costs literally nothing to take more pictures, and photo editing software can change what would have been a hopeless miss into a decent, good, or even great, photo. And cameras have changed too - the ones that come with our phones are now better than anything we could really afford back when.
So, what does that have to do with us?
Many of us use professional photographers for our real estate photography, especially when we're doing the important stuff, like listing and marketing photos. The rest of us do it ourselves, with varying degrees of success. But almost all of us want to take better photos, even if it's just for personal memories or having fun. And like everything else in photography, that's easier today than ever before.
So this is a contest about getting better at photography, by using photo editing software.
Wait! Don't run off! Gimme a minute here to convince you this is worth trying.
First of all, it's an easy contest. You just have to improve one photo, and it can be one you have already taken or one just for the contest.
Second, it's free - you don't have to buy software - there are plenty of free options out there if you don't already have something - I'll provide some resources for you later in this post.
Third, this is a really useful skill, even if you use professionals - you still probably need to take your own photos on occasion - maybe a particular shot for a client or something like that. And you aways want to put your best foot forward, right?
Here's a before & after example of what only a couple of minutes of editing can do:
Good - you're still here. Let's get down to the basics:
1. Write a post submitting 2 photos, a before and after set of the same scene.
2. Photos must be work-related. For Realtors, they must be a property photo, either exterior or interior. For other AR members, try to find something that relates to your work - we'll be flexible for you.
3. The before photo must be a photo you wouldn't want to see on MLS - underexposed, tilted badly, poorly composed, etc.
4 Use a photo editor of your choice to make the photo something you wouldn't mind putting out there with your name on it.
5. You must make at least 2 corrections to qualify for points, like an exposure correction and cropping, or correcting a tilt and adjusting white balance.
6. Do not overdo it. Don't cross the ethical line of misrepresenting reality. It's okay to edit out a bunch of computer wiring that's distracting from that photo of the home office, but getting rid of that 170 KV powerline looming over the back yard, while tempting, is not cool.
7. Write a brief narrative for your submission - 200 words minimum. Tell us about the photo - what was wrong with it, what steps you took to make it better, what software you used and what you liked and disliked about it.
8. Posts must be published by 11:59 PM, May 31, 2017. One submission per member.
9. Leave a link to your post in the comment section below.
10. Qualifying submissions will be awarded 1500 points!
There are a lot of free programs out there. Here's a few, and if you have other suggestions, don't hesitate to mention them in the comments below:
GIMP - Windows & Mac
iPiccy - Web-based
pixlr - Web-based
Ribbet - Web-based
iPhoto - comes installed with Mac OS
Snapseed - iPhone & iPad, Android
If you want to get a bit more serious, I really like Adobe Lightroom. It takes a bit more effort to learn, but it's awesomely powerful and well worth the effort. A free 7-day trial can be found here, and if you decide you can't live without it, you can get it, along with Photoshop!, for a measly $9.99/month, in the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography package.