Technically, La Lingua is 2 years old. My first post was way back in April 2012.

 I've noticed a lot of people host giveaways to celebrate their blogging anniversaries but seeing as I've only been really paying attention to my poor neglected site since January, it doesn't feel right. So January 1st will be the day I celebrate the blog from now on!

Also, Italy's post service leaves a lot to be desired. My friend recently sent me something from Australia. On her end, she was cheerfully told it would arrive within a month. Six weeks later and I'm still waiting. If you don't believe me about Italy and the post system, have a look at Sunshine and Tomatoes or Oh no, I am not hosting a giveaway whilst I am here.

Instead, I thought I'd "give away" something that everyone can take. A while back, somebody left a comment on the blog requesting a photography tips post. Well, two or three months later, I'm finally getting my arse in gear and I'm doing it!

Today I'll be talking about the editing of the final photo which is a rather backwards way of starting a series of photography tips but never mind.

Above you can see a before and after of a photo I took the other day (and featured in my previous post here).

To take the original photo, I used my wonderful Sony RX100 Mark 1 on the Intelligent Auto setting. I used to have it permanently on manual but then I spent so long fiddling with settings, I often missed great opportunities.

As you can see from the bottom picture above, the result was a bit gloomy so what did I do?

I put it on Fotor and had a play!

First of all, I go into Basic settings and adjust the brightness. I really like the effect the brightness setting on Fotor has as it makes all of the colours in the image paler rather than just making everything seem really over exposed. If you already have a strong image, adjusting the brightness might be all you want to do to get that pretty, slightly washed out feeling I've seen on a lot of blogs lately.

Next I go to contrast just underneath and adjust that slightly. You may need to negotiate a trade off between brightness and contrast as too much of both will have all of your whites glaring too much. I wanted to keep the reflections on the plate in the image above so I only increased the contrast a little.

Another thing to note throughout this process is that it's very easy to exaggerate at any stage as you race eagerly towards the final image. Be patient and think about the other tools you have rather than putting one tool up to 100% and ending up with a poor image.

This image was pretty low in colour and looked a bit grey due to the fading evening light so I upped the saturation a bit to bring out the beautiful colours of the gnocchi, wine and leaves in the background. A colourful image is so much more attractive to the eye than one with half-arsed hues.

At this point, I go into Fine Tuning and play with the Shadows and Highlights to make the image ping a little bit more. Depending on the image content, I'm also going to put the Sharpness up to 100% although this can look strange in some photos, especially when you have people in the foreground.

Finally, I used the brilliant Tilt Shift tool which is under Effects. Passing on the temptation to use one of the many Instagram-style filters, you can find this tool at the bottom of the list. Here you choose what is in and out of focus and it makes me incredibly happy. You can use a circular or linear focus point like in Instagram or you can use the brush application to highlight your favourite bits. I chose to keep the gnocchi and wine in focus.

And now I'm ready to go!

What are your favourite photo editing apps and programmes?