What to fix first? (photoshop)
Ever had that picture on your hard drive you really like, but there’s something not quite right? How do you start fixing it? What do you look for? That’s what we’re going to go over in this post.
Now you have that cool picture from your vacation, or a cute picture you just snapped, but right now, it’s just that. A snapshot. What things do you look at in Photoshop to make it good? First thing to fix is what bugs you the most. Whether it’s a quick snap from vacation or a 6 hour photoshoot, every picture has something that needs to be fixed. But if you’re not sure where to start…
1) White Balance
If your white balance is wrong (your picture looks blue or orange) then it is very distracting. Make a curves adjustment (if you’ve never used curves, it’s ok, we’ll make it easy). Under the channels option in the curves dialog, change it from RGB to one of the colors (red, green, blue). Click a point in the middle of the box and if your picture needs more of that color, slowly drag your mouse up. If your picture needs less of that color, slowly drag your mouse down. (In this picture, you can drag the red down, or the blue up.)
2) Distracting elements
Next thing to focus on is getting rid of distracting elements. Often times, some examples are telephone poles for landscapes, acne for portraits, or perhaps that shoe you left in the middle of your floor that you didn’t see when you took the picture. Editing these things out isn’t “cheating”. The purpose of editing is to make the picture look like what you saw, and often time you never see these distracting elements until you see it on your computer, because now you have time to study all the defects, and in person you were just there experiencing whatever it was you were taking a picture of.
In this picture, the cracks in the couch fabric are distracting. They break up the picture into segments, and gives the blank side of the same picture an equal weight as the teddy bear, so we need to get rid of them. Choose the patch tool, and select the crack. (It works just like the lasso selection tool.) Then click in the middle of the selection and drag over to a clean part of fabric, let go, and you’re done. Photoshop does the rest.
(The top was where the crack was, then it was dragged down to the lower patch.)
**Patch Tool: How this works is it takes the texture of the thing you drag to, and replace the thing you selected. It does not take any of the of color information or lightness/darkness, JUST the texture. To see what I mean, if you have a picture of a person. Drag the patch tool from a piece of skin to a piece of their clothing. It just looks wrong.**
3) Look at the edges
Being a photographer, you are responsible for making every part of your image look good. If there’s something weird or distracting in the corner, or along the edge, you need to see it. In this picture, there’s nothing terribly wrong the my edges, but the top headphone is barely touching the edge. It needs to stay away, or really touch the edge. The cord on the bottom edge does the same thing. The dip on the right side looks a little strange, so what’s the easy fix for all of these things? Crop it!
Grab the crop tool and just get nice and close. It’s ok to cut things off. The viewer doesn’t need to see every part of the subject, you are getting rid of the distracting elements, and cropping closer makes your picture feel more intimate.
Here is the finished picture with color correction, the large vertical cracks removed using the method described, and final cropping.
Images by NOM Creative
What are the first things you fix in post production?