There seems to be an infinite number of Photoshop tutorials available online, which is great—unless you don’t have Photoshop. These days, many photographers rely on free or inexpensive tools to edit their images. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use photo-editing app, Windows Photo Gallery is one of the best. You can download it directly from Microsoft for free and start editing photos immediately. In this post, we’ll show you how Windows Photo Gallery works and how to arrange your workflow to create professional-looking images.
First Things First: Workflow Matters
Whether you’re using Windows Photo Gallery or another app, the order in which you make changes is extremely important. Because adjustments to color or exposure often leave behind artifacts and noise, it’s best to start with these edits. Once you’re done with that, use the retouching and red eye removal tools as necessary, and then move on to "noise" removal (more on that later).
When the bulk of the editing is complete, feel free to apply filters, convert the image to black and white, or crop it. Making changes in this order ensures that you can easily correct flaws caused by the editing process.
Which file types should you use?
Windows Photo Gallery supports several file formats, including BMP, JPEG, JFIF, TIFF, PNG and WDP. JPEG files are one of the best formats to choose because they’re universally supported. Whether you want to post your images on the web, have prints made, or use them for anything else, choose JPEGs so you won’t run into compatibility issues.
1. Opening Your Image
Once you’re set up with Windows Photo Gallery, you can open images directly from the software’s gallery. Scroll through the timeline and double-click the image that you’d like to edit.
2. Adjusting Exposure
Windows Photo Gallery makes it really easy to adjust exposure. Click the Exposure tool and select the option that most closely matches the look you want.
3. Adjusting Color
The color adjustments work just like the exposure adjustments. Click the Color option on the toolbar and choose the option that you like best.
4. Fine Tuning Color and Exposure Adjustments
The nice thing about Windows Photo Gallery is that you aren’t stuck with only a few options for color and exposure correction. If you’d like to tweak the brightness, contrast, shadows, highlights, tint or saturation, you can do so by double-clicking on the Fine Tuning tool in the toolbar.
This will open up a panel along the right side of the screen with several editing options. Click the element that you’d like to adjust and then use the sliders to tweak the image to your liking.
5. Straightening Your Image
If your horizon line is crooked or you’d like to tilt the image, there are two ways to do it: Click Straighten in the toolbar, and Windows Photo Gallery will automatically straighten the photo for you. Or you can go to the Fine Tuning section and use the Straighten Photo slider to rotate your image.
6. Red Eye Removal
Correcting red eye is a simple task in Windows Photo Gallery. Select the Red Eye tool and then use the cursor to draw a box around the red portion of the eye. The software will automatically remove the redness.
7. Retouching the Image
If certain elements of the photo are distracting, or if previous edits have resulted in a flaw, you can retouch it. First, select the Retouch tool in the toolbar. Next, draw a box around the flaw that you want to remove. Windows Photo Gallery will automatically sample nearby areas in the image to create a pattern that covers up the flawed area you selected.
8. Noise Reduction
Noisy images have a grainy, splotchy look. Low light conditions are the most common cause of image noise. Certain edits, though - particularly color, exposure, and sharpness adjustments - can result in a noisy look, too. Fortunately, getting rid of noise is easy. Click the Noise Reduction tool, and Windows Photo Gallery will automatically smooth your image. Ta dah!
9. Monotone Effects
If you’d like to create a monotone image, Windows Photo Gallery has several great options. For a basic monotone conversion, go the Effects section of the toolbar and choose Black and White, Sepia, or Cyan.
There are also orange, yellow, and red filters that simulate the effect of colored filters that are mounted on your camera’s lens. Colored filters work a bit differently than a basic black and white conversion. When you use these filters, areas of the same color within the image will appear as brighter shades of gray, while areas of other colors will appear darker. So if you choose the red filter, red elements and areas with a red tint will show up as light gray, while blue and green shades will be dark gray.
If you’re unsure which effect you like best, mouse over all six effects to preview them. Once you’ve settled on one, click on it to apply it to the image.
10. Cropping the Image
Once all other edits are complete, you can crop the image. Start by clicking the arrow underneath the Crop tool. This will bring up a menu with print sizes, options to rotate the selection box, and options to create custom crop sizes. Choose an option and then select the portion of the image that you’d like to keep.
Once you’ve made your selection, you can resize the selected area or drag the selection box around. When you’ve lined up the selection box, click the Crop button on the toolbar to apply the changes.
Windows Photo Gallery may lack some of the advanced tools that come with high end image-editing suites, but the simplicity of this app more than makes up for its shortcomings. Not only is this software easy to learn, but it has everything you need to correct and enhance your images - and it won’t cost you a thing.