I used to be a travel photography purist. The way I took the photo was the way it was going to stay. I didn't have Photoshop or formal graphic design skills, so I thought I was stuck with what the camera captured. I was okay with it.
Since then I've fallen in love with the simple photo editing tools that come standard on most Windows PCs. Now with a small amount of effort and a little bit of imagination, I can take a bland or boring shot, play with the color saturation, brightness, tint, and more, and come out with travel photography that better captures the way the moment made me feel.
That's why we take pictures, right? To preserve the feeling of that moment, a feeling that would otherwise fade with time.
In a way, we are simply restoring the image in the file to the way we saw it when we took it, because most standard cameras seem to capture images in a slightly dull and dark form.
So what am I talking about?
Let's take a look at some of my travel photography that I edited using the steps below.
As you can see from the examples above, a little bit of effort can really make a difference. The photos in the After examples are more visually interesting and have brighter colors.
So how do we accomplish these photo effects?
All of the photos above and below were edited using only the free photo editor that comes with Microsoft Windows. The steps below may not correspond to the exact version of Windows you are running. But by following these steps and saving a new version of each photo to edit, you can do some fun photo editing without risk of losing or doing irreparable harm to your photos.
The Easiest Way to Turn Vacation Photos Into Travel Photography
- Step 1 – Select the photo you want to edit using the Windows Photo Gallery tool (the standard Windows photo browser).
- Step 2 – Click the File dropdown and select Make a Copy. You will then be prompted to save the photo with a new name.
- Step 3 – Go back to the window containing your photos and open a new copy of your copy. This is important so you don’t save your changes to your original photo.
- Step 4 – With your new copy open in Windows Photo Gallery, near the upper right center, select the Open dropdown and select Microsoft Office Picture Manager.
- Step 5 – The Picture Manager will now be open with your photo. Now it’s time to start playing around.
- Step 6 – Select Edit Pictures on your function ribbon. A sidebar will appear with options. Here you can change the contrast and brightness, color options (including saturation and hue),
- Step 7 – When you have your photo looking the way you want it, select Save. Your copy of your original photo will now be updated to your new, cooler version.
More Travel Photography, Edited
An Even Easier Way to Edit Your Photos
There is one way to spice up your run-of-the-mill travel photography that is also free – Instagram. If you have been living under a rock like I have, Instagram is a free app that allows you to choose from a bunch of pre-set photo effects filters to get similar effects as above. This app is popular because it does a great job of making photo editing a social event.
I like Instagram for travel photography because it is mobile-phone based, which means the photos are more spur-of-the-moment than if you unpacked your DSLR or point and shoot.
Here are a few of my photos from Instagram, to demonstrate what the application allows you to accomplish: