Monday, June 27, 2011

How to make a bad photo better (aka not every photo comes out good!)

On Sunday I took a large group of photos.  Some came out great.  Some came out horrible.  And then there were ones you looked at and thought Wow that would have been a great photo if only...

This was one of them.

It's easy to see what is wrong with this photo, but let me give you a short rundown:

1. It's washed out.
2. The colors are all wrong (too blue).
3. The highlights are blown out.

How did this happen?  It was a cloudy day and I was not quite aware of which direction the sun was coming from when I squatted down to get this photo.  As soon as I took it, I realized the mistake and moved to keep the light behind me.  But I didn't get another shot quite like this.

In attempts to edit it, I ultimately ended up with this as a photo.

This is somewhat better.  She's not quite as faded.  The colors are somewhat better though her face is still blue and washed out funny.  The background is still blown out a bit.  And after editing it, another flaw was brought to light: there's something hanging out in the top lefthand corner of the photo.  What was it?  A treat bag that had floated into the photo.

At this point, I was ready to give up, but I had one more thing to try.  I got into Adobe Lightroom and turned the photo B&W, which immediately improved it.  I lowered the exposure quite a bit (-1.24), increased the blacks (17), and also increased the contrast (+9).  Then I edited out the baggy by using the cloning tool in Adobe Photoshop.  And voila!  This photo.


I'm really quite pleased with it.

So basically, what I'm trying to say is: Don't give up on a photo just because it didn't come out good right from the camera!


  1. That's pretty awesome! I've heard a lot of good things about Lightroom, but until I get a dslr (and all the extra information that DSLRs store in their images) there isn't much point in getting it.

    Gorgeous photo of the ever-gorgeous Dahlia :)

  2. Thank you! I'm pretty pleased with Lightroom. I like the editing capabilities, though I can do more with photoshop (e.g. the cloning thing). But for good basic photo editing, Lightroom is great. If you know someone who is a teacher or student (or you are!), you can get it for about $80, which is good deal!