There’s a wide-spread myth about photo enhancing and what you can do with your photos using a computer. You’ve seen it many times before on TV, in series like CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS and all those other “modern” detective series which focus more and more on technology as a tool to track down their villains. The FBI has a blurry image captured by a CCTV camera, and magically zooms into the photo, and with the touch of a few buttons, they manage to get a crystal-clear image of the sought-after criminal out of the worst possible footage. Such image enhancing is not possible in the real world, of course. No camera has an unlimited capacity for resolution, and you cannot create photographic data where there is none available.
However, this is not to say that existing image data cannot be used to make pictures look better than they do when they are first captured. In the old days, we had the liberty (and the time, it seems) to develop images in our custom-built darkrooms, playing around with them until they were perfect.
Nowadays, our digital cameras and smartphones capture high-resolution images but don’t give us a chance to be involved in the initial “developing” process of these shots. Instead, we are given a final product as an image file to send to our friends, upload to social networks, or save to our hard drives for posterity. What most people don’t realize, however, that this is just one interpretation of the captured image, “developed” for us by our software, and that the image can be made to look very differently and more visually appealing by applying a simple set of editing techniques and methods.
Photo enhancement, as opposed to photo manipulation, which is the term used to create illusions or deception by turning Images into something that they are really not, by adding effects or elements that were not there at the original moment of taking the picture, refers to the tweaking of a digitally captured image, in RAW or JPG format, by adjusting colors, contrast, white balance (i.e. gradational retouching), sharpness, removing flaws on skin or materials, etc.
The Software which was typically used for this was no different to heavy commercial software like Photoshop, Photoscape, The Gimp, or Corel PaintShop Pro.
But if you just want to enhance your holiday snapshots, these tools are very costly and the learning curve is steep even for pros. Accordingly, and due to the development of mobile devices as well as the emergence of a world of photography where everything has to move more quickly (Picture a scene where you just took a great shot of someone famous and want to be the first to upload it to Twitter, but would like to quickly correct the photo before you do so), more and more tools have emerged to make enhancing of your photos quicker and more painless for the user.
These range from tools built into imaging apps and photo galleries of modern smartphones and tablets to online tools like Pics.io which provide a variety of useful and easy to use tools that yet produce professional looking results.
Online photo enhancing tools are considered the best (and the future of digital image editing) by many, because online services like Pics.io provide access to photos from anywhere, with any device, and combine this with additional features like RAW processing, photo sharing and online photo storage, which please both enthusiasts and professional photographers.
The idea, then, has stayed the same: to make the most of your snapshots without “cheating” and adding unnatural elements, by leveraging all the available information to make your photos look as good as they possibly can. But you no longer do this in your lonely basement at home; the new darkroom is in the cloud.