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(Guest blogger Cynthia Hartwig, co-owner of Two Pens, teaches business people how to write social media content from both sides of the brain. Follow @twopens2 or the Two Pens blog at http://www.twopens.com.)
Have you ever skipped a meeting and then gotten nominated to take on a task because you weren't there to defend yourself?
Yep. My rowing club asked me to create a club calendar "with my great photos."
Problem is, while I'm great at words, I'm an amateur photographer, at best. I like snapping photos but I miss more than I hit.
So imagine my delight when I discovered Picture Tools in Word 2010 which helped me make-over my images. To start glitzing them up, I just selected each one in turn so as to display the Picture Tools Format tab on the Ribbon.
Then I got to work. If you're less than a photo pro, like me, you can use these five easy tips for changing a snapshop into something snappier.
Take a look at the "before" shot of me and my Conibear Rowing Club pals "tying-in" to our quad before practice. It's a sweet, smiley shot but it's like 9 million other shots taken in the flat light of gray Seattle. Dull.
Before: Cynthia Hartwig (front) and other Conibear Rowing Club masters tie-in to a quad on a gray Seattle day. Light is flat.
After inserting the photo into my document, I went to the Ribbon and selected Picture Tools, then I chose Color to brighten my shot. Word gave me lots of options for increasing color saturation. After clicking and evaluating several saturation choices, I ended up picking a thumbnail with 100% saturation This gave my photo a nice warm pop; options beyond 100% made us look like we were rowing to Disneyland instead of Lake Washington (a clue to back off on color adjustment!).
The last step was to go back to Picture Tools and select a middle range of Brightness and Contrast in Corrections. To do this, I chose Picture Correction Options and used my mouse to slide the cursor to the correction I wanted. Live Preview helped me choose the setting that made the blacks look really black.
After: I counteracted the gray light by increasing Color saturation. Now the photo pops.
Here's a snapshot I took of one of our rowing shells powering up in practice. It's a bland shot. Not much to recommend it because of its busy composition and so-so-lighting. But if you look closer at the rowers, the shot does have some nice drama. Three rowers in this boat shell are pulling all out and their oars are making a nice backsplash.
Before: Your eye doesn't know whether to look at the rowers or the boat behind them.
I chose the Crop tool and cut out all the other extraneous (and distracting) information. Your eye knows where to look with this crop and you get the excitement of the moment with the expressions and the splash. Then I did the same thing I did above: I went into Picture Tools, chose Color and increased the color saturation slightly for some zing.
After: I cropped in on three rowers with the most action and splash. Now you know where to look.
In late January, we Conibears celebrate our achievements at an annual award party. I like this silly snapshot demonstrating a gag idea for lighting up our boats on dark Seattle mornings. One club member wears a full yellow body suit lit with Christmas tree lights; another holds up the white option. The original photo was dark because it was taken inside at night.
Before: This shot of a gag skit at the rowers' awards party was taken indoors. It's dark and dreary.
Highlighting the Christmas tree lights seemed like a good way to show off the idea of the photo, so I went to Picture Tools and chose Corrections. Then I increased the contrast by selecting a thumbnail in Brighten and Contrast. I felt that the faces and room could reasonably go dark because there's enough detail in the photo to show you the scene. By increasing the brightness, I was able to give the Christmas tree lights a bright glow that enhances the idea of the photo. As a last step, I also chose a thumbnail under Corrections and chose Sharpen and Soften to give the photo better detail.
After: I bumped the Contrast up to make the lights the brightest element in the shot. Now the gag idea of "lighting up the dark" works.
Conibear Rowing Club raises money every year for Rainier Valley Rowers (RVR), a nonprofit organization which provides scholarships to kids of all income level to learn to row. I wanted to emphasize the diversity of RVR rowers so I spent time in Picture Tools trying out a wide range of color effects. I went into Tone in the Color section, and picked the thumbnail that gave me the best balance of skin tones of the Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and Eritrean kids in the boat. I made sure to pick the tone that also kept the warm reds and yellows of the fall leaves in the background. Voila: instant United Nations.
Before: The Rainier Valley Rowers look slightly washed out and the colors fall in the cool, blue tones.
After: To warm up the photo and emphasize the full range of skin tones, I used the Tone selection in Word 2010 Picture Tools. This helped bring out the fall leaves in the background.
Conibear Rowers don't wear elk horns or buffalo heads but we do initiate our new officers with the ritual of "crossing under the oars." I snapped this photo at the awards ceremony and had a problem with the indoor lighting and outside darkness. Consequently, the photo came out soft, a little blurry and full of noise. Rather than fighting the noise, I decided to increase it for a grainy effect by increasing in Brightness and Contrast under Color Corrections. I also upped the Color Saturation by picking a thumbnail that looked good. To counteract the lack of detail and blur, I adjusted the image (by 50%) using Sharpen under Corrections so the facial expressions were distinct.
After: The dark shot taken at the initiation of the club officers was blurry so I sharpened it.
Not bad for "word" processing software! Now if only Word 2010 could represent me at the next Conibear Club meeting before I get "volunteered" to redo our website. :-)
-- Cynthia Hartwig is co-owner of Two Pens, which teaches business people how to write social media content from both sides of the brain. @twopens2