How I edit photos

by Jeb

I’m branching out a bit here on HTM, so this post is not my typical variety. As you may know, I’m a fan of production…that is, doing things, as opposed to paying others to do it for you. And there’s a very good reason for it above and beyond the obvious one of saving money.

Namely, producing makes me happy.

When I’m using my body and/or mind to actually create something - whether that thing is a story, a picture, running up a mountain, a good meal. Regardless the creation, when I’m engaged in something that I enjoy, and come away from it having created something that didn’t previously exist (again, whether it’s a very tangible ‘thing’ or a less tangible experience), I’m happy.

So I’ve decided to share with you some of the ways that I produce/create, in the hopes that it might be helpful to you and, better yet, inspire you to create something new, in your own way.

Today’s shared creation concerns photo editing.

Several months back I decided that I wanted to stop using stock pictures in my posts. That is, rather than go to Flickr or some other repository of images (free or otherwise) to find something to accompany my posts, I wanted to start exclusively using images that were my own.

Because my blog is a very personal one (and was more so at the time than it is today), I felt using an image that I’d created would better convey my message, in a way that was more genuine and personal. So it began.

Of course, part of that creative process that I enjoy a great deal is editing the pictures I take. That is, adjusting and tweaking colors and effects, adding text, etc, to end up with a finished product that is truly unique. Some examples of what I’m talking about can be found in my Gallery tab, so feel free to take a peek.

I don’t own the Adobe Creative Suite, which means Photoshop wasn’t an option for me. So I started looking around the web and found Picnik, a fantastic free photo editing tool accessible via the web (as opposed to being a software program you have to buy and install on your computer). I’ve been using it for months now and though I know it’s not the slickest tool out there for these purposes, I’m cool with that. Because often times, we let that idea - needing to have the best tool/camera/computer/sewing machine/whatever - keep us from taking steps down the road to production. Down the road to happiness.

If this is a topic of interest to you, I hope you’ll find this video useful. And if you have any questions, recommendations or thoughts, please share them in the comments. If there’s any way I can be of help to you, I’d appreciate the opportunity.

I burned through the video super fast because I didn’t want to take too much of your time. So if any of this peaks your interest but you have more questions, leave me a question in the comments and if I can help you, I’ll be happy to do it.

ps…don’t mind the ’screen flow’ water mark on this video. It’s my first screen capture video and I’m testing a few different tools before deciding which one to go with. :)

How I edit photos from Michael Caranza on Vimeo.

Feed your appetite for design and get a media arts degree to develop your talent.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nate December 1, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Jeb - we must be on the same wavelength man! I’m the exact same way, which is why I think i have some issues with what I do now. The work is very abstract and there’s no physical output. I’m all about producing as well. I kind of freak people out (namely my wife and family) when I tell them my most fulfilling jobs ever were:

1. Line Cook in a restaurant
2. Working on the grounds crew on a golf course

There are a number of reasons for the above, but the main connecting reason is that there was a tangible result associated with each job. With cooking I felt such a great satisfaction of taking an order, knowing the list of ingredients and making it (I still love to cook). When I left for the night I felt a sense of accomplishment. Same with working on the grounds crew. I really enjoyed the manual labor aspect of it. I’m looking for something like that now, which is why I had started self-studying HTML….although that’s taken a backseat. Maybe I need to get back into that again.

Thanks for the tips here. I’ve already used Picnik per your suggestion and it’s great!
.-= Nate´s last blog ..The Art of Personal Goal Setting =-.


2 Jeb December 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm

That’s funny Nate, last year I went back to work part-time for a company I worked for through college. It’s purely manual labor (since I have no interest in going back into management) and while I can’t claim it to be my dream job, it’s extremely satisfying. Every day there is specific work that needs to be done and when I walk out the door, I feel a fantastic sense of accomplishment. There’s no huge project that is going to be 6 months in the making. It’s day to day, easy to measure, immediate feedback. Very good.

And I think this is at the heart of something really important (and something I’ll probably post on soon)…the extraordinary value inherent to a working lifestyle. And by working I mean manually. That doesn’t mean I see no value in intellectual or other work, but I think we humans gained something so critical from a lifestyle that required us to work on a farm or hunt or otherwise provide for our day to day needs. It’s only a few generations since that was the norm, but I see the effects without a doubt, and I worry about where it’s headed. But I s’pose that’s better left to another post.

Thanks Nate…


3 Fabian Kruse December 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Jeb, this is a great start for an interesting series on “producing”. While my photo workflow is already in place, Picnik will be a good option for anybody interested in editing. Actually, it might be a useful alternative while being on the road!

I also agree with you and Nate on the importance and joy of manual labor. That’s why helping in the construction of a house or learning from my old carpenter neighbor is so much fun. (Maybe related to this, taking photos with my grandma’s fully manual Leica M3 is much more fun than walking around with a DSLR… but I’m still thankful for the digital darkroom… :) )
.-= Fabian Kruse´s last blog ..Procrastinate on TASKS, not on your LIFE =-.


4 Jeb December 1, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Yep, I think perhaps we’ve been fooled into this notion that satisfying our needs through consumption, because it’s easier, less toil, is better. But a few generations of slothfulness has proven that money isn’t the only measure of cost. And it’s this cost that I’m preoccupied by lately.

BTW, where is your photography on display for the likes of me to see??? Thanks buddy.


5 Milo December 2, 2009 at 2:10 am

Nice idea Jeb, look forward to watc hing this video when I get home from work. I also enjoy the act of production or creation, and I also get a lot of reward from learning new skills. Some times though I think trying to do EVERYTHING myself sets me back - I guess as with everything balance is key.
.-= Milo´s last blog ..Random Reading List - Tuesday 1 December 2009 =-.


6 Jeb December 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Yeah, I think the key is making sure the production is something you truly enjoy. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be any of the “things I have to do” variety, but finding ways to create doing something that you can feel proud of…that’s the key. For me. :)


7 Dorota Zuzanna December 2, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Thanks for sharing the tool. I use Photoshop myself for work, but love the idea of using free tools whenever I can. There’s so much good open-source stuff out there.

I want to take my own photos for my blog as well. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about photography. Hopefully my digital camera and the auto setting do… until I learn more about it, that is.

There’s so much stuff I’d love to do myself, especially grow my own food. It’s my dream to have a little garden and grow most of my food myself. For now, I’m sticking to herbs :)
.-= Dorota Zuzanna´s last blog ..15 groups of plant foods =-.


8 Jeb December 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Well you’re in good company Dorota, because the only thing I know about taking pictures is that I like it. Beyond that, I make it up as I go.

Growing our own food is, in my opinion, the penultimate when it comes to production. Such a return to the earth, to nature, to our roots. I think there’s a certain magic inherent in providing for our own sustenance in that kind of way. So basic, and powerful. Whether it’s a few herbs or an entire menu, it all counts. Keep it up. :)


9 Tammy-Cricket December 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Hey there,

Long time, no see. I’m finally making my rounds to get caught up with old friends.

I’ve used Picnik for a long time now. I love it. I travel a great deal and this is a perfect place to upload, edit, and share. The simplicity is unbelievable. I’ve thought many times that Picnik needs to add me to their payroll.

I enjoyed the post.


10 Jeb December 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Hi Tammy, how nice to see you again. Glad I fall into that category worthy of your rounds. Hope to see you more often…:)


11 Wade December 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm


Greetings from Colorado. I’ve visited How to Matter off and on over the past six months and enjoy seeing it’s evolution. Your photos have always been remarkable. And thanks to this tutorial,now I know how you do it. The gallery collection is great, as is the feature that allows images to be sent as an e-card (What is that tool?)

I’m interested in learning what product you end up using for screencasts. Are you aware of any that can also capture the presenter?

Thanks for sharing this, and I’ll definitely take a look at Picnik.



12 Jeb December 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Hello Wade,
Wow, what a nice comment, thank you. A Coloradan, eh? Hope you’re holding down the fort while I’m away. :)

The e-card thing is made possible by a WordPress plugin called Postcards. Let me know if you have any trouble finding it and I’ll get you further details. Though I haven’t tested it yet, I’m pretty sure this same screen-capture tool can also capture the presenter in a small window as well. If I end up trying it out and confirming it, I’ll shoot you an email.

And if you do try Picnik and have any questions at all, please track me down, I’d be happy to help. Cheers!


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