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Digital Photo FAQ's & Tips: Editing Photos

This section of the web site is a collection of digital photo Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) and Tips.

Never edit original photo files

Whenever you edit a digital photo, the original image is changed in some way. Even simple edits such as cropping or red eye removal change the picture. So that you retain the image as taken by the camera, never edit the original photo files. Instead, make a copy of the original file and only edit the copy.

What you name the copy is not important, but you should develop a consistent naming system. We name our copies the original file name plus "_edited". For example, if the original file name is 20060202.jpg, we name the copy 20060202_edited.jpg.

Edit your photos before uploading

Even if you have access to high speed Internet, editing your photos before uploading to an online developer will save you time and frustration. All photo developing services have basic editing tools, but editing online will be slower, and the interface is generally less friendly than your own familiar photo editing software. At the minimum, you should perform the following edits on your computer before uploading:

  • Make a copy of your images so you don't edit the originals
  • Crop images to intended print size, such as 4x6"
  • Remove red eye
  • If desired, zoom in to enlarge details with the crop feature

How do I remove the background from photos?

Removing the background from a photo, or creating a white background, requires the use of a digital photo editing software. To remove the background, you must either select the objects that you want to keep or the background to be removed.

If you have selected the objects to keep, you can Copy and Paste them into a new, blank image. If you have selected the background, hitting the Delete key will remove it from the photo.

The actual process varies by the editing software used. For step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish this using Photoshop Elements, please see Selecting Objects with the Magic Wand.

Use highest resolution setting

For best results, use the highest possible image resolution before printing or developing your digital photos.

Before taking pictures, make sure that your camera is on the highest resolution setting. Some cameras may call this "large", "super fine", etc., so check your user guide to be certain.

After taking the picture, do not reduce the resolution with photo editing software, unless you have a specific need.

If editing photos to remove red eye, crop, etc., be sure to save the image at maximum quality. This is especially important if saving as a JPEG file (with .jpg on the end). In the case of JPEG, your software may refer to the highest setting as "maximum", "10", or "100". Saving at the highest resolution will give you the sharpest image on paper.