With summer finally here, many of us will be outdoors snapping away with our digital cameras. But while a photographer has lots of control over composition, it’s not so easy to ensure all their subjects are facing the same way and smiling at once.

Like me, you probably end up taking several photos of your friends, and still find none that is a good shot of everyone. With 23 percent of us sharing snaps on Facebook, it’s natural that we want to look our best.

How to create panoramas and collages in Windows Photo Gallery 2011

You don’t need to be a confident photo editor to create memorable pictures. Microsoft offers software that can make retouching photos a breeze. Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 is free from explore.live.com. It lets you organise, manage and make basic edits to digital photos, and offers creative tools to help ensure the final result is the ‘perfect’ shot.

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One of the most useful tools is Fuse. This lets you combine elements of several images to create one photo that everyone thinks they look good in. To get started, you’ll need to shoot a batch of images of the same people from the same vantage point. It’s then simply a case of selecting areas of an image and swapping them with the same area in other images.

Integration with Facebook means you can share your fused images in seconds, and give the impression that you always look picture-perfect.

Fuse photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011

Step 1. Download Windows Live Essentials from explore.live.com. You’ll need to register for a free Windows Live ID if you don’t already have one. Log into your account, then follow the prompts to install Photo Gallery. You can choose to download the entire suite or just Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Photo Fuse step 1

Step 2. Photo Gallery will trawl your hard drive for photographs, then display them in a similar fashion to Windows Explorer. For best results with Fuse, you’ll need a batch of images of the same people, taken from the same vantage point. The feature is a great way to get family portraits where everyone is smiling and facing forward.

Photo Fuse step 2

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Step 3. Select the folder containing your collection of images in the left panel. Next, select thumbnails of the images you want to use in the main panel. Hold down Shift to select several photos at once. Finally, click the Create menu at the top of the window and choose Photo Fuse.

Photo Fuse step 3

Step 4. The software will highlight an area on the first image. In a box on the right you’ll see a corresponding area for other images in the group. When prompted, choose the selection you like best. If your choice is from the first photo, nothing will happen; if it’s from another image, that selection will be fused on to the main image.

Photo Fuse step 4

Step 5. Drag the highlighted area around your image to choose other parts to fuse with better shots. Adjust the size of the highlighted area by dragging its corner markers with your mouse. If you make a mistake, press the blue arrow at the top of the window to undo the action.

Photo Fuse step 5

Step 6. Once you’re happy with the image, click Save. Choose an image name and location to save the fused photo. Using the Create tab at the top of the window, you can then email the fused image to friends and family or share it on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Windows Live Messenger or even with SkyDrive.

Photo Fuse step 6