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Enhancing Your Photos – Tutorial 1

Enhancing Your Photos – Tutorial 1

How often have you returned from holiday to find some photos dull or over-exposed in areas? Typically, when you have a large area of bright sky the camera will over-expose the shot to compensate for the large amount of light.

Both MAGIX Xara Photo and Graphic Designer and Xara Designer Pro contain a fast and non-destructive set of photo tools that enable you to improve your photos in a few easy steps. I have this dull photo, with a washed out sky which I’m going to improve using the Enhance Photo and Transparency tools. Firstly, I drag the photo onto the title bar which will open it directly in the photo editor (rather than on a new page) and then select it.

My photo with Mount Fuji hardly visible

With the Enhance Photos tool selected I click on the auto enhance which has improved the over-exposed sky and given more definition to Mount Fuji. I have then manually increased the saturation to make the sky even more blue, but the rest of the photo has darkened. Select the Compare button, to toggle back and forth between the original image and the enhanced one.

Enhancing the sky and Mount Fuji

So I now need to correct the foreground land area. I select the Mask tool from the left hand Tool bar and my photo will then have a red skin over it. With my mouse pointer, I will draw the mask of the area that I want to enhance. I don’t have to be too accurate as I shall blend it with the remaining area later, however, I do need to ensure that the start and finish join up so that the area is ‘cut out’ from the mask. The pink mask area remaining will not be affected by my changes.

Masking the sky and mountain

Now I will manually make the adjustments by entering a value or selecting the arrow alongside the colour control and moving the slider. I can change the brightness, contrast, colour saturation, photo temperature and the blur or sharpness. I will change the brightness and the contrast. You will now see that it has changed the entire unmasked area but it has left me with a rather obvious lighter area between the land and sky.

The lighter un-masked foreground

However, by using the Transparency tool with the default setting of ‘graduated’ I can achieve a graduated blend of the new enhanced foreground over the original darker image to blend the foreground and background. With my unmasked area still selected, I select the Transparency tool and drag a line across the area that I want to blend. Having the gradient going from bottom left top right will make the graduated fade work best as that is the direction of the area that I want to blend. I can select either end of this graduated transparency arrow to change its transparency area.

Blending the foreground and background

So here’s my final picture compared with the original which shows that I have successfully brightened it up and enhanced the area where it was previously over-exposed.


To save your final image, select File > Save. Your adjusted photo will be saved along with a copy of the original in a Master’s folder. At any time you can open the modified photo and make further changes or undo changes and even restore the original unmodified photo

MAGIX Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and Xara Designer Pro incorporate a fast and non-destructive set of photo tools that includes:

  • Enhance Photo, which you can use to crop images, adjust brightness, color and contrast and sharpen or blur photos
  • Clip, which provides more advanced cropping options
  • Clone, a quick and easy way of removing and replacing unwanted objects in your images
  • Red Eye Removal, which, as its name suggests, reduces and removes red eyes in your photos taken with flash photography
  • Content Aware Photo Resize, which allows you to stretch or squash photos without distortion, retaining the photo’s natural proportions
  • Brightness Levels dialog, which can lighten or darken a whole image or just parts of it
  • Panorama, an easy and invaluable way to combine up to 6 photographs into a single wide-angled high resolution panorama
  • Perspective Correction, this can automatically correct common perspective defects in a photo
  • EXIF, which shows the embedded EXIF value of a JPEG image.

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