How to Fix Photos in Photoshop
It’s difficult to imagine a world without Photoshop and how it can be used to fix and enhance photos. By enabling creators to use their imagination, Photoshop has revolutionized the art of photography and challenged us to alter our perspective of the world around us.
I first began to explore photography around the age of fifteen. With no access to expensive lenses, accessories, or learning materials, I was able to turn to Photoshop to fix my mistakes and make my photos much more captivating. Artists like myself are no longer constrained by low budgets or lack of materials, and are not required to be flawless photographers. Photoshop has made photography a more accessible art medium for photographers of all ages and experience levels.
Here are 5 awesome Photoshop tips that can be used to fix common photo issues and add flair to any image.
Tip 1. Fixing Overexposure & Underexposure in Photoshop
Sometimes, the perfect shot doesn’t have time to wait for us to perfect our camera settings. Accidentally over or underexposing an image can throw off the color balance, draw attention away from the subject, and make it difficult to communicate the desired mood or message. Luckily, an overexposed or underexposed image is not the end of the world - often, it can be fixed using tools such as Photoshop’s adjustment layers.
You can see my unedited image is brightly backlit, causing the subject to look hazy and overexposed.
To fix this overexposure in Photoshop, add an adjustment layer by choosing the circular button on the bottom of the layers panel, then select levels.
This will create an adjustment layer on top your image, allowing you to apply edits to all sub-layers rather than directly onto the photo. This allows for greater flexibility in the editing process, because if mistakes are made, the layer can be hidden or deleted to revert back to the original image.
The Photoshop levels tool is a powerful way of adjusting a photo’s shadows, midtones, and highlights, represented by the respective sliders below. By sliding the black and grey arrows to the left, the overall intensity of the shadows and midtones are increased.
Already, the subject appears clearer, and harsh highlights are removed.
Tip 2. Adjusting Perspective in Photoshop
It has happened to the best of us: we think we have captured the perfect photo, only to realize our subject looks unnatural or a building is tilted oddly.
Perspective refers to the dimension of objects and how they relate to each other in three-dimensional space. The angles from which we take photos can drastically alter the way our subjects appear. While altering perspectives to shift a photo’s focus can work in a photographer’s favour, errors in perspective may lead to distortion.
Our original image is skewed slightly to the right. To correct this, choose a reference line in the photograph that should be straight. In my example, I will use the corner of the building behind the model, which should be a straight, vertical line.
To open Photoshop’s skew editor, choose Edit > Transform > Skew. The angle editor or the cursor can be used to turn the image in any direction.
After experimenting, an angle of -5.5 was found to correct the image distortion here. Press the checkmark on the top right of the toolbar to apply the change.
Tip 3. Cropping in Photoshop
Many of us dismiss cropping as one of the easiest parts of the photo editing process. However, proper cropping can help draw focus to the main subject, remove distracting elements, and improve a photo’s overall composition. When choosing what to include and exclude from your photos, crop out any elements that do not contribute to your photo’s storyline.
Locate the Photoshop crop tool on the left toolbar, then use the border controls that surround the image to adjust the crop boundaries.
The Rule of Thirds is important to remember when cropping photos. Sometimes, centering a subject isn’t the most effective framing method. To enable a rule of thirds grid in Photoshop, open your preferences using Command-K on a Mac or Control-K on a PC.
Under the “Guides, Grid & Slices” menu option, change the settings to add a gridline every 100 percent, with three subdivisions. Press OK to save changes. The grid can now be toggled on and off by pressing Command-’ (command-apostrophe) or Control-’ (control-apostrophe).
In many portraits, the eyes are an effective focal point. So, by placing the subject's eyes at the intersection of the gridlines along the top horizontal line, viewers will be drawn to this important part of the image first.
Tip 4. Removing Distracting Objects in Photoshop
Some objects, like blemishes or a stray strand of hair, cannot be removed via cropping, however photoshop’s clone stamp tool will allow us to seamlessly remove such objects.
In my example, I will use the clone stamp to clean up stray hairs near the left side of the subject's face.
Locate the clone stamp tool on the left toolbar, and select the photo layer.
The clone stamp uses a source portion of the image and paints it onto another desired section. Use Alt+click to define the source of the stamp (i.e. what the background behind the stray strands of hair should look like), and click and drag the cursor on top of the strands of hair. The closer the source is to the object you are trying to erase and the shorter your strokes are, the more natural the result will appear.
The above result is subtle, but still contributes to an overall cleaner image.
Tip 5. Adding Flair to Images in Photoshop
Perhaps the most significant way Photoshop has changed photography is by allowing creators to push beyond the limits of what’s possible. Using various tools and techniques, photographers can create composites to tell powerful, thought-provoking stories.
In my example, I will add a lens flare as the finishing touch. To access the Photoshop lens flare menu, locate “Filters” on the top menu bar, then select Render > Lens Flare.
The preferences allow us to adjust the location, brightness, and type of lens the flare imitates. I positioned the light source at the top left corner of the image - the location of the sun when this photo was taken.
Our final image has better lighting, composition, and visual effects than the raw image, each fix plays a vital role in captivating the viewer and telling a story.
I hope you enjoyed my Photoshop tutorial, now its your turn. What will you create? The sky’s the limit with Photoshop!
Do you have any questions or comments about our Photoshop Tips to Fix Photos? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And please share this tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Mary Ditta, is a senior at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada and will be attending a University next year to study international realations and drama. Mary is an avid photographer, Photoshop enthusiast and the Fall 2018 winner of the Pretty Photoshop Actions Bi-Annual Scholarship.