We took a beautiful drive up the mountain thru a town called Jerome in Arizona. Jerome is perched right on the side of that mountain with a sweeping view of the Verde Valley in the distance. Unfortunately, when I took the picture, the town was in deep shadow and sunlight filled the sky and the valley below. If I had taken the picture with my smartphone, I would have used the HDR setting to better expose both parts of the picture, but this was taken with my digital SLR. If I had set my camera to auto exposure bracketing and taken 3 pictures of this scene, I could have created an HDR later, but that’s a whole other article! The picture you see at #1 is all I had to work with this time – let’s see what Picasa can do with it.
The original picture.
Use the Fill Light slider on the basic fixes tab to add light to the town.
Some photo editors, like PhotoShop, give you tools to add light to just the dark part of the picture, but Picasa is not that sophisticated. When I drag the slider to increase fill light, the entire picture gets lighter, leaving the sky and the valley pretty washed out. Use Fill Light sparingly – your picture can get very grainy.
To get some color back in the sky, I use the Graduated Tint button on the third tab of editing tools. This fills the top third of the photo with a blue tint. You can adjust the area of the fill by dragging the crosshair. The crosshair first appears in the middle of the picture. I angle the fill by dragging the crosshair control down and to the right. Watch this free Tutorial Video: Graduated Tint
Lastly, I added a bit of the HDRish effect in order to accentuate the details in the picture.
This ‘fixed’ picture may not stand the test of scrutiny. I wouldn’t blow it up in a large print, and I wouldn’t submit it to a photo contest, but these fixes do help preserve a memory in a web album when the original picture was simply not good enough to keep. Using the simple buttons and sliders in Picasa’s editing tools, you don’t need to know a lot about layers and levels of color and light. Just click a button, drag a slider, if you don’t like what you see, drag a slider the other way. Still don’t like it? Click the Undo button!