Coming from the first generation that grew up with a computer in the living room, I pretty much picked up the skills to handle software that is most useful. However, other than my terrible typing skills that never seemed to improve, I regret most never learning to use Photoshop.

Photo editing programs like photoshop are used in so many ways in so many careers, an understanding of them seems an invaluable skill. Because Photoshop was a paid program that I never really had access to, I am still trying to learn its basics so that I can efficiently and skillfully manipulate images to fulfill the needs of our digital world. An understanding of Photoshop’s usefulness also allows us to look at a simple image and think creatively of how the photo can be changed and made better.

At a recent trip to the Women and Leadership Archives, I gathered some images from the collections of women in politics. Here, I will take a look at them and think about how Photoshop could improve them for use in a digital collection or exhibit.

Ronen, Carol005

Ronen, Carol006.jpg

I’ve already used Photoshop to crop the two sides of this campaign flyer from the Carol Ronen Papers. The photos or Carol Ronen logo could also be cropped out to be used for other purposes. This can be especially useful in collections that don’t contain many photographs.

Ronen buttons.JPG

Objects like these buttons can be challenging to photograph, because of how reflective they are. If you look close, you might see the reflection of me holding the camera. Adjusting the lighting settings and using the blending tool in Photoshop can help get rid of reflections and the glare of the flash.

I could also crop these buttons and put them on a neutral background. I black backdrop would probably look better than this foam propped up on a table.

MAS-Life Line for the Shore Line-2.jpg

This newspaper article comes from the papers of Mary Ann Smith, a former alderman of the 48th Ward of Chicago. I could use Photoshop to focus the eye on the most important part of this page, whether it were the map or a specific paragraph, by blurring out other sections or adding color to highlight certain aspects.

CMB A Woman's Place pillow

Like the buttons, I could put this awesome pillow from Congresswoman Carol Moseley Braun on a solid background and possibly blur out some of the distracting wrinkles in the fabric.

Whether for a physical or digital presentation, high quality visuals are important in all kinds of public history projects. Technology like photo editing software helps us improve our products and make up for imperfections caused by age or other issues.

To learn some Photoshop skills with me, check out tutorials from Adobe here!


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