useful online editing tools – canva photo editor

I’ve been using Canva since it’s invitation-only beta launch in 2013, and love the simplicity of its ready-to-use templates, which makes for drag-and-drop design software that is easy to use (and free!).  What I didn’t know though was that Canva also has a photo editor as part of its suite…

canva - simple and easy to use for the non-designer designer

Way back in 2011, I was just starting to tinker with my photos.  I didn’t have dedicated photo editing software and was using whatever was easy and free online.  Since then I’ve progressed from Photoshop Elements to Lightroom, and don’t have the need to use online photo editing apps any longer, but am always mindful that there are others out there, who like 2011 me, are just starting out with their photography journey.

Then one of the folks from Canva reached out and asked me to do a review of Canva’s Photo Editor, which brouth their photo editor, colour palette generator and font combinations tools to my attention as well.

So, I had a play around with Photo Editor and here’s what I thought:

There’s an array of filters to suit any style.  My personal favourites are Street (because I love dark and moody black and white images) and Cali for its matte effect.  I like too that you get a thumbnail preview of each filter so you get a bit of an idea as to what your photo will look like before you click.

where can i find the filters in canva photo editor

The next tab along allows you to adjust your brightness, contrast, and saturation.  There’s plenty of scope to play here and tweak the image.  As I’m now used to Lightroom, the sliders aren’t fine-tuned enough for my liking, but if you are just starting out with photography it’s a great way to learn about what brightness, contrast, and saturation can do to your photo.

where do i find the adjustment sliders in canva photo editor

Then comes the crop tab.  You have the option to set a custom size for your image, using the width (W) and height (H) boxes, which is handy if you know you want to resize an image to a specific size and purpose, e.g. a blog header.  The 1:1 ratio is your square option and just right for resizing for Instagram.  From there though, the aspect ratios (the relationship between the width and the height of an image) aren’t sizes that are commonly used in photography.  It doesn’t hurt to play with them though!  And they have the ever handy rule-of-thirds overlay on the photo, so you can crop to divide your frame into thirds with the main focus of your image on one of the horizontal or vertical lines or at one of the points where they intersect.

where do i find the cropping tool on canva photo editorThe resize tab is next.  If you leave the ‘lock aspect ration’ toggle box ticked, when you drag the little white circles in the corner of your image, it will keep your aspect ratio and not distort the image.  It’s when you untick it that things can get a little funky.  It’s actually one of my pet peeves… photos that have had their aspect ratios messed with… they just don’t look right!

how do i resize image in canva photo editor

The rotate function is pretty simple – clockwise or counter-clockwise.  Not something I have a use for every day, but handy to have just in case…

how do i rotate images in canva photo editor

And then finally is this flip tab.  Believe it or not, sometimes an image looks 100% better if you flip it!

how do i flip an image in canva photo editor

And there you have it – Canva Photo Editor.

It’s a simple site and while it may not be of use to the more advanced photographer (unless you’re on the road and your editing software is really playing up!), it is perfect for the photographer who is starting out and learning about post-processing.  It’s easy to use and best of all is free.

So, would I recommend Canva Photo Editor?

Yes, I certainly would.

This is not a paid promotion of Canva Photo Editor.  The team reached out and asked me to review it.  I agreed because I’m all for sharing useful tools with fellow photographers.

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5 easy composition rules to improve your photography: #5 break the rules

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

― Pablo Picasso

Rule number 5… well it’s not really a rule at all.

Over the previous four weeks, we’ve looked at the rule of thirds, framing, filling the frame and embracing negative space, and while there are so many more ‘rules’ of photography that I could go on to talk about, I’m going to give you the most important rule of all…

don’t be afraid to break the rules

sometimes placing your subject dead in the middle of the frame works well…

and there will be moments when you don’t have time to frame your subjects – it’s more about capturing the moment and you need to think quick

there will be times when your foreground and background are an important part of the story of the image

and times when no matter where you move, there will be no negative space in your image, but it will still work

So there you have it – my top 5 rules to help you improve your photography!

now, it all comes down to practice

So pick up your camera whenever you can.  Practice on whatever willing, unwilling, stationary or moving subject you can find, and you will soon see an improvement in your photography.

And most important of all, have fun!

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Has this series of 5 easy composition rules to improve your photography helped to make you more confident in your own photography?  And what was your favourite rule to play with?

If you’ve enjoyed this series, please share it with a friend!

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5 easy composition rules to improve your photography: #4 embrace negative space

the use of negative space is a simple tool to highlight the simplicity or beauty of an object in a photo

Negative space, sometimes referred to as white space, is a concept that’s been used in art, design, architecture, and sculpture for hundreds of years.

what is negative space?

Put simply, negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in your photo (the main subject is known as the “positive space”)

By allowing plenty of negative space (areas of your photo with nothing in it) you emphasize the main subject of the photo and automatically draw your viewers eyes to it.  By providing this “breathing room” and giving your eyes somewhere to rest, you prevent your image from appearing too cluttered with “stuff”.  When used properly, negative space provides a natural balance against the positive space in a scene and adds up to a more engaging composition.

When used properly, negative space provides a natural balance against the positive space in a scene and adds up to a more engaging composition.

but this is the opposite of fill your frame!

It sure is!!  To determine if negative space will work for your image, adjust your composition until the positive and negative spaces in the shot feel well balanced against one another. Be generous with the amount of empty space you leave, and don’t feel you have to cram something interesting into every square centimetre of the frame.

Now, not every image is meant to work with the compositional techniques of filling your frame or embracing negative space.  And don’t be fooled into thinking that your negative space has to be white – just try to balance a simple and uncluttered negative space with your positive.

here I’ve used a black negative space to emphasize the pale pinks and greens of the buds

a simple image with negative space surrounding the subject
image by Magdalena Roeseler

notice here how your eyes are drawn to the man’s face and how the negative and positive space are nicely balanced?
image by Jason

Looking for the other installments in this series? You’ll find #1 the rule of thirds here and #2 framing here. Post #3 fill the frame can be found here.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What do you think of negative space? Do you use it often? Share some examples in the comments if you like.

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5 easy composition rules to improve your photography: #3 fill the frame

what is the ‘frame’ and why should you fill it

In a nutshell, the ‘frame’ refers to the edges of your photograph. To ‘fill the frame’ means to get in close, to make your subject a significant portion of the final image.

Filling the frame adds instant impact to your image. You’ve excluded the unnecessary distracting background elements and have given your subject a ratio of the frame that is directly related to his or her importance.  Filling the frame encourages you, as a photographer, to really spend time thinking about your subject and how best to feature that subject in your photograph.

Filling the frame also encourages you as a photographer, to really spend time thinking about your subject and how best to feature that subject in your photograph.

why does filling the frame work

Two reasons that filling the frame work so well are:

1.details

By filling the frame with your subject you leave no doubt about what the focal point of your image is.  Any details that might steal the spotlight are eliminated.  This is one of the reasons macro and close-up photography is so interesting—we see details we are not usually aware.  Think about photos of the elderly, the lines and wrinkles on their faces, and the stories that they tell.  Alternatively, the fresh young skin and faces of young ones…  These types of details are important.

2. background

Backgrounds are often cluttered with information that is not relevant to the subject and only diverts attention.  As with details above, being visually close to a subject or situation helps the viewer to feel physically close and emotionally connected, and of course, it allows us to see expressions and details that we’d otherwise miss.

focusing on my Boy’s hands opening the knife is a reminder for me of just how important working wood is to him

by zooming in close – and yes, chopping off the top of her head! – your eyes are drawn to the young girl’s eyes and their innocence

by focusing on the leaves, the colour and sense of movement here evoke memories of an autumn afternoon

even though you can’t see the grooms face, you get a sense of his personality in the way that he holds his stick

by filling the frame with the Boy and the Dog, it shows their bond and a companionship that needs no words

As with rules #1 and #2, the fill the frame rule is just a guideline.  It won’t work for all images, but don’t be afraid to move in close, and then move in closer again to see if your subject has the makings of a ‘fill the frame’ image.

Looking for the first installment in this series? You’ll find #1 the rule of thirds here.

And you’ll find #2 framing here.

In the comments, I’d love to see:

Your favourite fill the frame image.  What photo have you taken that fills the frame and really tells a story for you?

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