Most of the photos we take can be improved in some way, no matter how skillful the photographer.

Computer programs and cellphone photo editing apps vary from very basic free editors to advanced programs like Photoshop or ON1 with both mobile and PC options. Photo editors may be included in operating systems and applications of devices and it is worthwhile learning how to use them.

Basic editing include cropping to size while global adjustments like exposure and contrast, shadows and highlights, colour temperature, sharpness and so on is typically all that is needed to make a photo “pop”.

Most basic programs are generally low-touch and easy to use, yet can deliver very powerful results – the free cellphone app Snapseed is everything most people will ever need, from basic global “looks” and adjustments to more advanced, selective local edits including healing brushes for object removal and adding text.

The accompanying sunset beach scene was actually a very drab, low-contrast, early morning shot. ON1 made it quick and easy to adjust contrast, warm up the scene and to create the appearance of a sunset (or sunrise) reflected on the wet sand by adding lens flare.

Adjustments should not be obvious, but always subtle, believable. Avoid overcooked, over-sharpened images and black clouds (not to mention excessive use of “wrinkle removal” on profile photos!).