Thursday, December 23, 2010

Get The Look of SLR With a Point and Shoot (a Tutorial)

You guys voted that you wanted a photo-editing tutorial (it seems so long ago now) and here it is! I use GIMP, a free photo-editing program you can download. It is comparable to Photoshop...only free, therefore I love it. :)

I will be showing you the basic method I use to get from this:

to this:

Now, I am definitely not a professional! This is just the way that I do. Also, if you have an SLR then you should not need this tutorial--you are already at the 'end' product that I made! I just can't afford an SLR right now, so this is the (long, complicated) process that I do.
*whew* Alright, ready to start?

STEP 1: Choose your photo
I probably take between ten and forty photos of each outfit and cull them until I am left with the top two or three. If I am going to post multiple photos of the same outfit, then the poses need to be sufficiently different for it to be worth it. I also try to post at least one closeup per outfit, although sometimes I have more and sometimes I have less. This is the photo I have chosen for this tutorial.

Notice the unflattering background? The dogs doing their doggy thing on the side? All of that will be going.

STEP 2: Crop the bejeezus out of it!
While the artsy photos are good sometimes, and some blogger make them look fantastic, I am just not there yet. I like a photo that shows my outfit--it is called an Outfit Photo, after all.

STEP 3: Increase saturation
It has been so dark and gray here in Big City that I am automatically upping the saturation on all my photos. This photo was taken around 3:30 in the afternoon and the sun was already going down, so colors were beginning to look washed out. If your camera captures color very well then you may not need this step, but I like it to add a POW to my photos. It's not super obvious here, but it makes a difference later on.

Step 4: Increase contrast
Here is where I want my darks to go darker and my lights to be lighter. Again, this is about developing my photos to be more than just shades of gray. If increasing contrast does weird things to your photo, such as washing out delicate details or making the shadows too dark, try playing around with the Curves feature (available under 'Colors' in the menu). Curves is a way to adjust specific shades of the photo (for example, all mid-range grays, or all bright whites) to be darker or lighter. You can do this independently of the other shades in the photo, which is very convenient. However, for this photo I just needed to up the contrast a bit.

STEP 5: Blur Background
To get the distinctive background blur of an SLR camera, I had to take a few steps.
1. Using the Magic Scissors function (in the toolbox), I 'cut' myself and a bit of the foreground out. The Magic Scissors function is pretty useful--it selects along the point of highest color gradient to 'guess' where the edge is where you are cutting. I select points every so often along the figure and the line 'magically' appears in between. I can then adjust if it 'guessed' wrong. I cut out the foreground as well because it is in the same plane as me, so with an SLR it will be in focus.
2. Once I go all the way around, I click again on the first point to close the circle.
3. Then I click in the middle of the object to select it.
4. Right click and select 'Copy Visible.'
5. Create a new layer and hit paste.
6. Select the bottom layer (the cropped image you started with).
7. Select Filters-->Blur-->Gaussian Blur. I usually blur it with Gaussian blur once or twice.
I know this sounds confusing, but if you practice along with a sample photo it will make much more sense! Basically what you have done is blurred the entire photo, but in the layer above this blur you have the cutout of you (and the foreground) pasted, clear and unblurred.

STEP 6: Blend, Blend, Blend!
Almost done! Now I compress the layers (Image-->Merge Visible Layers). At this point, however, you have a pretty strong line between the blurred background and the sharp foreground.
Out of the Toolbox I select the Healing Tool (it looks like two bandaids), put the opacity at 20% and adjust the scale (usually around 2 makes it the right size for me).
I hit Control and click in the blurred background right above the line between blurred and sharp. Then I smudge between the blurryness and the line. Because the opacity is around 20%, this will create a gradient from blurry background to sharp foreground.

STEP 7: Admire!
Yay, you finished! This might have taken a long time for the first go through, but with practice it will go much more quickly.

I am always on the lookout for more hints and tricks--does anyone have any great tutorials to point me towards, or any tips I can use? I am constantly refining my photo-editing technique!


  1. I recently download that program. I need to learn how to use it, so thanks for the tips!

    The Auspicious Life

  2. Um, how much do I love you right now??? This is so incredibly helpful! I am a huge failure at attractive photo taking- I can't wait to try this!!

    Also- you look great as always!

  3. Thanks! I'm glad this looks helpful--it was a lot harder to explain everything than I had anticipated! Please, ask questions if you can't figure something out! :)