How to adjust pictures for PowerPoint presentations

Powerpoint 2010 incorporates all kinds of exciting features to make your presentations more professional, dynamic and interesting. Effective presentations can lead to more sales, a work promotion or stakeholder co-operation for that all-important project. In the previous article, PowerPoint Picture Tools for Effective Presentations, we looked at the importance of the PowerPoint Corrections tool. In this article, we give you an in-depth look at how to use it for maximum effect.

As we have seen in the previous article, adding pictures is one way to make a slide show interesting. Pictures can also be made to look their best by adjusting their brightness, contrast or sharpness/softness.

For instance, you can bring out some extra detail in an over-exposed or under-exposed image by using the corrections tool to change the brightness and sharpness of an image until you reach the desired effect. Or with the soften tool, you can blur the image so it blends in with your slide.

To give your image a punchy or stylised look you could play with the brightness and contrast tools to alter the definition between light and dark areas of the image, as you can see in the pictures below. Let's see how:

Adjusting the brightness and contrast

To adjust the brightness of a picture, first double-click on the picture that you wish to edit in order to select it. This will cause the Picture Tools Format tab ribbon to appear.

Tip: Should you inadvertently click off (deselect) the picture, the Picture Tools Format tab will disappear taking with it all the picture command buttons. To keep the Picture Tools Format tab present in the Ribbon, you must keep the picture selected.

Once the Picture Tools Format tab is in view, you will be able to edit the picture's brightness using the following steps:-

1) Go to the Adjust section.

2) Click the Corrections Button.

3) Under Brightness and Contrast (see below) hover over the option that you think would be best and check that this is the optimum brightness for your picture using the Live Preview.

4) Once you have found the best option, click on that option to make the change.

5) Should the brightness still not be correct for your picture, you can fine-tune it. Click the Corrections button again and select the Picture Corrections Options.

6) When you click on the Picture Corrections option, the Format Picture dialogue will open. Use the Slider or the Numbers Box to fine-tune the brightness or contrast until you have the desired effect.

Tip: In PowerPoint 2010 it is possible to save the original version of the image even though the contrast has been changed. This feature is not available in Word or Excel.

Adjusting the softness and sharpness of a picture

As you can see from the screenshot below, the Format Picture dialogue box also features a sliding scale for sharpening or softening the picture. Alternatively, you can choose from a range of sharpen or soften presets (but the sliding scale is better for more precise control). Using either method, you can increase the sharpness of images if they appear a little smudged or some of the details have been lost due to bad lighting, or you can soften them. The latter can help a picture look warmer and can be used to smooth out skin blemishes and tones in portraits.

Tip: Artistic and other effects such as shadows, reflections and glows can be added. The colour of the picture can also be changed.

Compared to previous versions of Microsoft Powerpoint, PowerPoint 2010 has a richer set of easy to use tools specifically aimed at helping users - who have basic or no photo-editing experience - insert (and edit) lively and interesting pictures into their presentations.

As well as PowerPoint Picture Tools for Effective Presentations, do read our other articles on how to add movement and animation into your PowerPoint presentations:

Futher Reading:

In Enhance PowerPoint Slides with Animations we look at the PowerPoint tools that can help make your slide presentations dynamic.

In How to Use PowerPoint 2010 Animations, we provide tips and steps to get the most out of PowerPoint animations.

In How to Use PowerPoint 2010 Transitions for Maximum Effect, we look at how to use the PowerPoint 2010 transitions and how transitions can be abused to the detriment of the slide deck.

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