In my last article, I described the various ways that you could convert your rose photos into digital images, or computer files. Once you've done this, there are many computer programs that you can use to improve their appearance.
When you get photos back from the lab, you might find the picture to be too dark or too washed out by bright sunlight. There may be a distracting object in the corner of the photo. Or you may have noticed, the colors you see are not always true to life. All of these flaws can be helped by "paint" or photo editing software. Some of the more common ones include Corel Photo-Paint, Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and U-lead Photo Express. All of these have the basic features you need to improve you photos, and each has it's own special effects as well. If you have purchased a scanner, it is likely that you have received some sort of photo-editing software as part of the package. Paint Shop Pro and U-Lead Photo Express can be downloaded from the Internet for 30-day trials If you like it, you pay for it and you get a registration key that allows you to keep using it. Look on Zdnet.com for these and just about any other recent shareware program.
When you have a nice photo of a particular rose variety, you may want to adjust the color of the photo to more accurately depict it. First, is the photo too dark? There are 2 tools that help adjust this. Find the "gamma" adjustment in your program, and slowly increase the number. You should be able to see a preview of how your photo will look with each change. You can always hit cancel or undo if you don't like an effect. The second tool to lighten a photo is the "brightness and contrast" tool. Again, check the preview or proof as you go, when you like the effect; save the result. Now that the photo is light enough to see detail, check the color. All programs have color adjusting tools, each is quite different. Often, all that is needed is to use a color-balancing tool to reduce the amount of one color like green or blue. Your lighting, the kind of film you use, your scanner, as well as poor developing; can give you photos that need this adjustment. Check all you menus to see what color tools you have; check the effects of each.
For distractions in the photo, learn to use your cloning tool. This tool works by letting you use custom selected sections of the photo to cover over unwanted areas. It's much more effective than trying to paint over an area in one color, because it mimics all the color variations of the surrounding area. The smudging or blending tools can do this for small areas, for example where a piece of dust shows up in your photo from scanning it.
When you're done with all this, save the file. Never save your original file in a compressed format like a jpg or gif file. If you do, then each time you edit and re-save it, you will lose some of the original detail. A safe way to save it is in tif format, which takes a great deal of disk space, but has no detail loss.
Use this original to make different sized versions for different purposes. If the original was scanned in or saved at a high resolution like 300-600 dpi (dots per inch), it will be suitable for photo realistic printing. But if you want to use it on a web page or perhaps a newsletter, it will need to be much smaller. Always re-size a large photo with your paint program, not with you word processor or web building program. Use the "re-sample" or "re-size" command. For a web page, 600-800 pixels wide is a good size to fill a computer screen. When you've re-sized the photo, you may find it's not quite as clear and focused as you'd like. Find the "sharpen" tool area in your menu. One of the sharpen tools is called the "Unsharp mask", it's quite adjustable in the amount of sharpening it will do. For a very large photo, you may need to set the radius of this tool to 3 to 5; for a smaller web photo, a radius of 1 or 2 is enough. Check your preview before you save! Sharpening is helpful to clarify details, but overuse ruins the subtle gradations of color in a rose photo. For the web, save the finished photo as a jpg or gif, those are the only 2 formats that are in general use right now. For a newsletter, you may need to change the color photo to black and white so that it can be Xeroxed or printed. The grayscale function will do this for you easily.
There are fun effects in these programs also. Frames can be added to a photo, or a texture superimposed so it looks like it was painted on canvas or stucco. More radical changes can be found in the creative effects or filters available, making a photo appear to be a watercolor painting, needlepoint, a mosaic, or a pencil drawing.
Finally, if you're printing out your photos on an ink jet printer, here are a few hints. Check your printer settings. Use the highest resolution you can, new printers can produce 1440 dots per inch for true photo realistic prints, 720 dpi will do a good job also. However, the type of paper you use is critical for getting a fine print. Plain inkjet paper will give a washed out look to the photo and will not show great detail. Use glossy photo paper for the best results. Try the glossy paper made by your printer's own company first, then if not satisfied, try others like Kodak glossy. There are also coated papers meant for high-resolution printing that are significantly cheaper than the glossy type.
Rose Hybridizer's Forum at http://tgpnet.com/brd2000/nb2290/view.pl?board=nb2290
Canadian Rose Society at http://www.mirror.org/groups/crs/