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by Phil Ball

Q. I just returned from a trip and I took many photos. I had them printed at the drugstore. When I showed them to a friend, he commented that they were nice but they could be improved. He recommended that I enhance them with my computer. I don’t want to do any of those fancy things he showed me like taking someone from one photo and putting them in another, but I liked the improvements he made. How can I improve my photos cheaply and quickly?

A. Today’s cameras take excellent quality photos but most photos still can be improved. If your computer has Windows Vista, it has a built-in feature called Windows Photo Gallery which is a nice place to view your photos and also has simple “fixing” tools. You can lighten or darken your pictures and add a little contrast. You can adjust the color, crop off the edges, and fix red eye reflections. Just doing these things can enhance your photos without changing their original content. If you have Windows XP, this tool can be downloaded from Microsoft here.

Another free tool that is easy to use is called Picasa which can be found here. These simple tools may be all that you need. If you work with these for a while and find that you want to do more or have more control, then you might buy a program like Adobe Photoshop Elements. This offers more control and more sophisticated tools that do very good advanced work.

Published: Courier 10/11/09 - Page 5C