Enhancing Your Pictures

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Now that you've organized your pictures so that you can easily find the ones you're looking for, you can enhance them. That means you can remove small irregularities from the photos and apply other kinds of corrections. To do so, start by double-clicking the picture you want to optimize. This opens the window shown in Figure 6-16.

Figure 6-16. Double-click the picture you want to optimize.

At left in the Edit Image window, you can see all the different editing options. However, you can't clearly see which options are available, because the Histogram and Image Information windows are open as well. It's a good idea to close these; to do so, click the downward-pointing triangle to the left of the window name. Next, remove the brown search bar above your picture, by clicking the X at the right end of the bar (or clicking the refresh icon). To bring it back later, press Ctrl+F. If you still can't see enough, you can remove other screen elements as well. To do so, look at the options on the View menu. For instance, by removing the toolbar, you gain a few more valuable centimeters to see your pictures; you can also remove the filmstrip from the screen. All of these elements are easy to put back later if you need them. You now have a somewhat better view of the available editing options; make sure your computer screen looks like Figure 6-17 before continuing.

Figure 6-17. Before starting to edit your photos, it's a good idea to remove some unneccessary elements from the screen.

Now that you've cleaned up your display, it's time to begin editing and optimizing. First, you can add comments to your photos. To do this, type whatever you want in the Comment bar below the photo. And did you notice that in this view you can also rate the picture? Use the five dots to the right of the Comment bar.

Next, you can zoom in on your picture using the loupe tool. To enable it, select View > Loupe (or press the letter v on your keyboard). You now see a magnifying glass that lets you zoom in on certain parts of the picture so you can better see what it shows (see Figure 6-18). Just click on the magnifying glass and drag it around. When you place the small circle over an area of the photo, an enlarged view is shown in the big circle. To switch off the loupe, select View > Loupe again (or press v), and it will disappear.

279 Photos (1 selected)

Figure 6-18. Use the loupe tool to zoom in on certain parts of your photo.

279 Photos (1 selected)

Figure 6-18. Use the loupe tool to zoom in on certain parts of your photo.

The loupe isn't the only tool available to zoom in on pictures. At lower right on the screen is the zoom tool; you can drag the bar to the right to zoom in. This gives you a level of detail that lets you almost work on a pixel level.

Now, let's look at the different menu options that are available to edit your pictures. First, you may want to crop a photo. Let's face it—when you take a picture, there's often a little too much information, which you may want to remove. To crop, first drag the mouse over the picture to make a selection. You can adjust the dimensions of the selection by hovering the mouse over the corners or sides and then clicking and dragging. You can move the entire selection by clicking and dragging it. Click Crop to crop the picture to your selection.

If you need a specific format while cropping the picture, first click the Crop button. Doing so displays a drop-down menu from which you can choose a crop ratio (see Figure 6-19). Next, click and drag on the picture as you did for an unconstrained crop selection. The selection is constrained to your chosen ratio. When you click the Crop button, you automatically return to the main menu. Don't like the result? No worries—select Photo > Version > Original to return to the original version.

■ Tip F-Spot never changes the originals of your pictures. Whatever happens, you can always get back to the original using Photo > Version > Original.

Figure 6-19. Select a constraint, and then drag the mouse over the picture to crop it.

The next useful function is red-eye reduction. This feature is easy to use. Select Red-eye Reduction, use the mouse to select the area that contains the eyes you want to fix in the picture, and then click Fix. F-Spot automatically analyzes your photo and tries to make it as good as it can.

Another function that offers few options is Desaturate. It removes all the color from your picture. The same is true for the Sepia option, which changes the colors in the picture to sepia tones.

The Straighten option lets you interact with the program. It lets you correct a photo if you didn't held your camera completely straight (you'll notice that this is the case for a lot of pictures!). To correct this issue, drag the slide bar under Straighten until the picture is exactly the way you want it to be (see Figure 6-20).

Figure 6-20. Use the Straighten function to correct the horizon in your pictures.

If you want the area around the central subject of your picture to disappear in a blur, you can use the Soft Focus option (see Figure 6-21). This option also uses a slide bar. Here's my personal advice: don't use it this option. It's ugly in most situations. But you may like it if you want to make romantic photos, for instance. People who know how to handle this function can do nice things with it.

Photo Edit View Find Jags

Soft Focus

> Histogram

> Image Information

^ Comment: [Boat trip to the Icebergs

279 Photos (1 selected)

Figure 6-21. The Soft Focus option doesn't always improve the quality of your pictures.

The Auto Color option can be very useful. This option can bring color to your pictures; but if it doesn't understand the white balance, it's capable of messing up your photos as well. Try it; and if you don't like it, you can use Photo > Version > Original to return to the original version of your picture.

Last but not least is the Adjust Color option. This isn't just an option—it gives you access to slide bars that let you correct your picture in many ways (see Figure 6-22). You can change basically everything from here. My advice is to try things and see whether you like the changes. Like what you see? Keep it that way. Don't like it? Revert back to the default setting, which is 0 in most cases.

Figure 6-22. Under the Adjust Color option are options that let you change many aspects of your photos.

Your pictures should now look good and be organized. It's time to proceed to the last part of your Ubuntu netbook multimedia experience: listening to some music.

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