Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 576

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 576

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 576

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 576

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 593

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 687

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 687

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 687

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 687

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/classes.php on line 710

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 58

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/cache.php on line 99

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/cache.php on line 404

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/query.php on line 21

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /homepages/35/d181617529/htdocs/ardis-creative/ardisblog/wp-includes/theme.php on line 576
Ardis Creative Web Design Blog » Blog Archive » Kick Your Photos Up a Notch

Kick Your Photos Up a Notch

A Guide for Clients

If you’re a Photoshop expert, you should probably spend your time reading the other posts in this blog, because this entry is dedicated to our clients and basically anyone who is not a professional in photography or design but would like to give their photos a better look, whether they are intended for their website, brochure or for the family album.

Having a professional photographer take the photos for your new state-of-the-art website or brochure is highly recommended, because the quality of your photos will impact greatly the quality of the final product. A picture is the first element that draws the eye into a page (virtual or not), and the text message is usually secondary.


But, if your budget hit bottom and you must take the photos yourself with the shiny point-and-shoot company camera, or if you must dig deep into the archives for past photos, there is still hope. Here is a list with the most common problems that you might run into, and their simple but very effective and easy to apply solutions.

The solutions described below are implemented in Photoshop CS3, but they work for previous versions of Photoshop, unless otherwise noted.

Problem: the photo appears overall dark, gloomy, dull.

Cause: entry-level digital cameras tend to underexpose. It usually happens when there is a large area of light (like the sky), which the camera uses as reference for the exposure, while the rest of the image remains much darker than it appeared in the original scene.

Solution: check the histogram of your image: Image > Adjustments > Levels (or hit Ctrl + L). If the right area shows a gap like in the image below, drag the white (right) slider until it meets the edge of the histogram (you will notice your image lighting as you do this). If the dark areas of the image are still too dark, you may want to drag the middle slider (the gray one) to the left as well, until you are happy with the results.

Caution: when you adjust the white slider, pay attention not to overexpose the bright areas of the image (they should not turn completely white).

Problem: photo appears flat, washed out

Causes: improper exposure, too much light, overcast sky, dust, mist, etc.

Solutions: First, check the histogram in the Levels dialog (Ctrl + L) - see the previous Problem. You might need to adjust both the white and the black slider, as shown in the image below. Then, choose Image > Adjustments > Brightness / Contrast and adjust the two parameters. To give the colors a little boost, choose Image > Adjustments > Hue / Saturation and increase the saturation by dragging the slider to the right. For even further adjustments, choose Image > Adjustments > Exposure. Drag the Exposure slider to the right (but be careful not to overexpose), the Offset slider to the left (to bring back some stronger shadows), and the Gamma slider to the left to make the image overall lighter.

Problem: The dark areas appear too dark, while the light areas are ok or too light.

Cause: underexposure, improper lighting, etc.

Solution: When the bright areas of your image are in danger of overexposure, you need to protect them while adjusting the darker ones to show more details. Choose Image > Adjustments > Shadows / Highlights. Make sure the Show more options checkbox is checked. By default, the settings for Amount and Tonal Width are set to 50/50, but this is usually too much, so you might want to slide those back some. Also, if the highlights of your photo are too bright, you can use the Highlights Amount and Tonal Width sliders to make them slightly darker.


Problem: color casts – the photo has an orange/red hue or a blue hue overall.

Cause: When shooting without the proper white balance selected, outdoor scenes may get a blue cast and indoor scenes under tungsten light may get an orange cast. Other types of lighting might generate color casts too. This is due to the color temperature of each type of light.

Solution: The simplest way to avoid this is to select the proper white balance before shooting. If the damage was done, it can be corrected in Photoshop by choosing Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter. Select a warm filter to correct a blue cast and a cold filter to correct an orange cast.

Problem: photo appears blurry, it doesn’t show enough detail

Cause: camera shake during the shooting, the subject moved, or the subject was not in focus.

Solution: Blurry images can be avoided by using a tripod during the shooting, by choosing faster exposures (or the proper program) when shooting moving subjects and by focusing correctly on the subject. If however your picture turned up slightly blurry, you can try to correct this in Photoshop by choosing Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask or Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen. Keep the Radius slider low, around 1 or 2 points, otherwise the edges of your objects might get odd-looking artifacts. The settings will be, of course, different for every image.

Caution: not all blurry images can be fixed with sharpening. If the blurring is very strong or the objects appear doubled (“ghosts”), the only solution is to re-shoot the picture. Unless you’re going for an Impressionistic effect, of course.

Note: You should always sharpen (more or less) your images before printing them, even when they appear sharp, because the printing process usually takes away some details that can be seen only on screen.

Problem: Red eyes

Cause: Red eyes appear when the flash fires on the same line with the person’s eyes. Compact cameras do not allow changing of the angle of the flash.

Solution: some cameras have the option to correct the red eye problem as you shoot. Otherwise, there’s an easy fix in Photoshop. Open you picture, zoom in on the eyes, and then pick the Red Eye Tool, which you will find hidden under the Healing Brush tool in your Tools palette. (Note: if you have an older version of Photoshop, this tool may not be available). With the tool selected, click on each of the pupils and watch the red disappear!

Problem: horizon line is not straight.

Solution: open you photo in Photoshop. Double-click the Background layer in the Layers palette. Hit Enter to close the dialog. Hit Ctrl + R to bring the rulers visible. Click on the horizontal ruler and drag down on the image. You will place a guide this way, which you can position where to indicate the horizon. Drag other guides to indicate the vertical direction. The hit Ctrl + T to begin transforming your image. Angle your picture until the horizon appears parallel with the guide you set. Make sure the verticals remain or become parallel with the vertical guides. Then, select your Crop tool from the Tool palette and drag a square around your image, making sure to eliminate all the parts that are transparent, then hit Enter.

Conclusions
I hope these simple tips will help you improve your pictures. However, if your task is more complex and beyond your skills, you should ask a Photoshop professional to handle it. Ardis Creative offers retouching services to our clients, from simple adjustments to high-class compositions. You can see a gallery of before-and-after here.

Note: All the image used in this article are from sxc.hu and can be used without restrictions, as per their authors agreement. Some have been modified for the purpose of exemplification.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Tags: , ,

10 Responses to “Kick Your Photos Up a Notch”

  1. Jimi T Says:

    I have a question regarding improving quality of photos, I have a photo
    that has been printed on paper that has a moire pattern embossed into it.
    Paintshop Pro has a moire pattern removal plugin which didnt work that good. I have tried a number of things and combinations of levels,filters, plugins etc. This is an important photo, being the only image of a person who is dead.
    If anyone has a solution I’d be most grateful.

  2. Madalina Says:

    Jimi:

    There are a couple of possibilities:

    1. Median Filer
    Filter>Noise>Median
    It also will help if you scan in the first place with a higher res and after applying the filer resize to the supposed final size of the image. You can sharpen it at the end of the process.

    2. Blur the channels
    Check your channels and blur the channel that has the moire (have again a very high res scan which you can later resize)

    3. Despeckle Filter
    Do the same as described in point 1 with the despeckle filter.

    And the best: combine the filters/methods above.

    Also check these links:
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1034&message=8177115
    http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=31676&seqNum=3
    http://www.ozoneasylum.com/5289

  3. monja Says:

    Hi!

    I found your tut very usefull, so I ask for permission to translate it to Serbian language and put it on PSP and PS forum http://hobi-grafika.bbgraph.com/forum.htm. Of course, I’ll put link to your site

    Thank you

Trackbacks

  1. Ardis Creative Web Design Blog » Blog Archive » Portrait Retouching for Beginners
  2. Deziner Folio» Blog Archive » Portrait Retouching for Beginners
  3. 站在巨人的肩膀上 » Portrait Retouching for Beginners
  4. future adda» Blog Archive » Portrait Retouching for Beginners
  5. DraGon’s Web2.0 » Blog Archive » Portrait Retouching for Beginners
  6. Portrait Retouching for Beginners » Agito.log
  7. Applications

Leave a Reply


Blog Information Profile for peinheuser