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You can do IT in later life

February 2007

You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too. Why not email her


February 2007


Many of you will be using a digital camera and may be interested in editing your photos rather than accepting them just as they are. There are numerous image editing programs you can use – many free over the Internet or very cheap at   - which all work in a similar way. So here is a brief overview of some of the things you can do to improve your photos. I am using Paint Shop Pro as my example, but look out for PhotoShop, PhotoPlus, Photoimpact or Tesco's new Photo Restyle.


Here are some common tools you find in most image editing programs:

Crop: Photos often have unwanted people, objects or large areas that it would be nice to get rid of. Draw round the area of the picture you want to keep, double click inside and the unwanted areas will disappear.

Select: Draw round any part of the photo you want to select. You can use the rectangle for straight-forward shapes or the lasso for unusual ones.

Pick up colour (Dropper): When you want to colour different areas, you can add a shade already present in the photo temporarily to your palette by clicking with this tool. When you apply it elsewhere, it will look more natural than adding a completely different colour from the colour palette.

Clone (Rubber stamp): This is an excellent tool for covering blemishes/unwanted objects that cannot be cropped away. Use the tool to pick up an actual area of the photo (rather than just a colour) and then paste this over the unwanted part.

Fill: This is commonly used to add a particular colour or pattern to a large area. Select the area first with a selection tool.

Text: This tool allows you to add words to the photo. When you click it, a text entry box opens and you can type and format the words before they are added.

Shapes: Draw these onto the photo to add circles, stars or rectangles etc and then colour them in.


Common menus include:



  • Browse lets you see all the pictures on your computer so you can find the one you want to work on.

  • Import will let you bring in a photo straight from the camera or a scanner.

  • Print Multiple Images – if you want different sized photos all on one sheet, arrange them in this view.



  • Zoom in or out to work on details (you can also normally click a magnifying tool on the toolbar or press Ctrl - + or -)

  • Preview the picture in your web browser, before publishing it

  • Add rulers or guidelines if these are not visible.



  • Change the picture by flipping, rotating or creating a mirror image.

  • Resize the picture – particularly useful if you want to reduce resolution for photos to be published on the web or sent by email. You only need 72ppi (pixels per inch) for showing on a computer, but perhaps 200 – 300ppi when printing out a photo.




  • Sharpen to give a harder edge, or blur to reduce it

  • Use automatic settings such as contrast or colour balance to improve the photo

  • Red eye removal – caused by reflection of the flash – is used to circle the bright red iris and change it to a normal eye colour

  • Scratch removal – use this to clean up a dusty or badly marked photo

  • Apply artistic effects such as brush strokes, charcoal, pencil or chalk




  • Apply special lighting



Change coloured photos to black and white or use the Histogram to change the light, mid and dark tones.

On screen, you will be offered a colour palette from which to choose colours and styles to apply to your photo. Normally you apply the foreground colour by clicking with the left mouse button, and the background colour by clicking with the right mouse button.


Most advanced programs allow you to add objects, text, parts of other photos etc. in layers. You can then work on any layer, editing it independently, before you combine them all into a finished picture.

When working on a picture, save it using the software-specific file format to preserve the layers. Only save it as a JPEG or PNG image file when you have finished all editing. This will compress the layers into one.





You will only learn by experimenting. The tools and menus may look complicated, but if you make sure you save the original photo and only work on a copy, all you need do if it goes wrong is get rid of the mess and try again.


View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest


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