I'll chime in!
First off, when you asked about your photos being "developed", you are using terminology from the film days, where you dropped off a roll of film to be "developed" and then printed. With digital, yes you can trust Walgreens to "auto correct" a digital shot before printing it but then you get what you get.
If you want the best quality prints, then you want to learn at least the basics of digital "post processing", using photo editing software and then testing your print providers. As has been said, a very common need will be to lower the brightness of your monitor, adjust your photos, re-test, and judge the results and print as necessary.
As to the photos being cropped when you print, well, that's another common problem. "Standard" print sizes come in various "aspect ratios" that are reflected by their dimensions in inches. A 4x6 print will have a different "aspect ratio" than will say a 5x7 print or even more so an 8x10 print. Imagine taking your photos and ordering a square print, say a 5x5-inch print -- can you imagine the result? Either you would have a print with a lot of "white space" or you would have the long dimentsion severely cropped, or the short dimension all stretched out!
So, you need to calculate your intended print dimensions into your cropping! For a 4x6 print, you want to crop with the same aspect ratio, which you can do in your software uising 4:6 or 2:3 for your relative dimentsions!
gingerjenny wrote in post #14460883
I'm not sure what you mean by the whites of the socks being clipped. Does that mean that part is overexposed? I am so green to this so this part is probably advanced for me. I am just learning and i'm currently reading some books and just practicing. With histograms the goal is to get the peak more in the middle right with no dramatic slopes? I'm going to ask my husband to check into making sure the screen is calibrated correctly too. Is there a particular program that i need to use to do that?
Getting the highlights and shadows to "balance" is first a matter of getting a good exposure, and then using your post-processing software to "even things out". When you consider the whites of your photos, I wouldn't say that the shots are over-exposed, but that they are pushing against the "dynamic range" of the camera. In other words, if you exposed for the darker areas, you would tend to lose details in those white stockings.
I hate it when that happens!
I use the Raw format with my photography because it gives more "latitude" in those areas. But, for you in the beginner stages, it will come down to your software for these images and you will want to find out how to lighten your shadows for these photos. And, as I mentioned earlier, you will need to dial down the Brightness of your monitor so that what you see on your monitor will match your prints!