Sharpening with Picasa: How Much Is Enough?
Just about any digital photograph can benefit from at least a little sharpening. Sharpening is the process of emphasizing tiny edge details, making the photo appear to be more sharply focused. You can apply Picasa’s Sharpen effect multiple times by simply clicking the button again. However, as you see in Figure 3.18, too much sharpening can produce unwanted emphasis on miniscule detail in the image. Figure 3.18 shows the original (top left), sharpened once (top right), sharpened twice (bottom left), and a close-up of triple sharpening (lower right).
Figure 3.18 Clicking the Sharpen button more than twice can produce unsightly "noise" in the image (bottom right).
Creating Old-Time Sepia Images
The Sepia effect produces a tinted image reminiscent of photos from long ago. In Figure 3.19, the original is shown to the right.
Figure 3.19 Sepia is a one-click effect—there are no options.
Prematurely Gray: Using the B&W Effect
Another one-click effect (there are no sliders to adjust), Picasa’s B&W effect simply removes the color from an image, leaving you with what appears to be a black-and-white photo. Remember that "B&W" actually means, in this case, "grayscale." There are lots of shades of gray, not just black and white. (You can see a sample of the filter to the left in Figure 3.17.)
Improving Skin Tones with Warmify
Picasa’s Warmify effect adds a slight orange tint to the image to make skin tones look better. Skip the Warmify effect completely—you have more control in the Tuning tab when you drag the Color Temperature slider to the right.
Getting the Nondigital Look with Film Grain
Photographic film has grain (texture) that digital photos don’t have. Picasa’s Film Grain effect simulates film grain. Unfortunately, as you see in Figure 3.20, it adds a lot of grain.
Figure 3.20 Using Picasa’s Film Grain effect adds a lot of texture to images.
Using the Tint Effect
The Tint effect is actually a two-step process: picking a color and adjusting a slider. After clicking the Tint button, you must pick a color. You click the Pick Color button (shown in Figure 3.21) to open the color picker. You can click any of the preselected patches of color or move the eyedropper tool through the color picker to preview new colors. When you see a color you like, click the mouse button to select the color and return to the main Tint window. After selecting a color, you can use the Color Preservation slider to restore some of the image’s original color, if desired.
Figure 3.21 You can select a color and, if you would like, use the Color Preservation slider to reduce the effect. The original photo is shown to the right.
Boosting Color with the Saturation Effect
If the colors in your photo could stand a little brightening up, head for the Saturation effect. You drag the slider to the right to increase the saturation of colors. As you see from the blue color creeping into the purple blooms in Figure 3.22, a large increase can result in some color shifts.
Figure 3.22 The original image is shown to the right for comparison.
Achieving Dreamy Effects with Soft Focus
The Soft Focus effect creates a circular area that remains properly focused and then gradually blurs the rest of the image. You control the center of the focused area by dragging a crosshair target symbol in the preview (see Figure 3.23) and then you adjust sliders to determine the extent of the blurring, both in distance from the crosshair (size) and in amount.
Figure 3.23 The crosshair symbol designates the center of the focused area.
Controlling the Glow Effect
Picasa’s Glow effect spreads a soft blur over the brightest areas of a photo. Glow has a couple sliders to help you control the effect. You determine the brightness of the light-colored glow by using the Intensity slider and how far the glow will spread by using the Radius slider. (You can see a sample of the Glow effect to the left in Figure 3.17.)
Understanding the Filtered B&W Effect
Picasa’s Filtered B&W effect simulates the look you would get if you shot your picture using black-and-white film with a colored filter over the lens. The filter screens out certain colors of light, changing the contrast in the final grayscale (B&W) photo.
When you click the Filtered B&W effect in Picasa’s Effects tab, you see the same Pick Color button as in the Tint effect window. Clicking that button opens the color picker. Keeping an eye on the preview area, you can click any of the preset colors or move the eyedropper tool through the upper part of the color picker until you see the best contrast in your B&W preview; then you click the mouse button. The color of filter you select can have a substantial impact on the contrast in the final image, so it makes sense to try a number of colors.
Controlling Grayscale with Focal B&W
The Focal B&W effect creates a circle in the photo that retains the original color and converts everything outside that circle to grayscale (black and white). You control the diameter of the circle with the Size slider and the fuzziness of the edges with the Sharpness slider (see Figure 3.24). You designate the center of the color area by dragging the crosshair symbol.
Figure 3.24 The crosshair is the center of the color area, and Size and Sharpness control the diameter and fuzziness of the color area.
Applying a Gradient Filter with Graduated Tint
Picasa’s Graduated Tint effect adds an overlay that fades from a color you designate to transparent. After you open the Graduated Tint effect, you can click the Pick Color button to open the color picker. You select a color by clicking. (As you move the cursor through the color picker, the preview is updated to show how the color will look with your photo.) After selecting a color, you can use the Feather and Shade sliders (see Figure 3.25) to determine the abruptness of the transition and the darkness of the color. Generally speaking, a larger Feather setting is more effective; a smaller Feather setting creates too sharp a line between "color" and "not." You can use Graduated Tint very effectively with the Sepia effect as well as any of the B&W effects.
Figure 3.25 The larger the Feather setting, the more gradual the transition.