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Photo flops: 5 Photoshop fixes for common image problems

Added on Friday 19th of March 2010 05:52 am EST
 

Application:

Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Not every image you take will be perfect, but don’t toss out what can be mended. We have five great fixes for your most common image ailments to get you on your way.

 

The digital age has created a revolution in photography with instant-gratification LCD screens on cameras. And even when those images don’t meet our ever-increasing standards, we have tools like Adobe Photoshop to post process those images and bring them up to snuff. While there are a limitless number of digital enhancements you might consider, the following five will address your most common image problems.

 

Problem 1: Ho-hum composition

The well-known rule of thirds suggests visualizing your scene as divided into horizontal and vertical thirds and positioning the most interesting element (the subject) at an intersection of the imaginary lines that define those thirds. This creates dynamic tension in the scene and makes it more interesting. It’s harder to do than you might think, however, especially when you’re snapping away.

Photoshop’s Crop tool will come to the rescue. With it, you can create a frame that zooms in on your subject, eliminating uninteresting background, and better locating your subject per the rule of thirds, as demonstrated in Figure A. Consider zooming out a bit when you take your photos; this will give you more flexibility later when recomposing your image within Photoshop.

A

 

 

Problem 2: What’s that doing in there?

Unwanted detail at the edge of an image, so-called edge intrusions, can deflect a viewer’s attention from your main subject. These intrusions can be tree branches, people cut in half, or anything that competes with your subject. The result is an image that can feel overly busy, maybe even confused. Your goal should be to keep the viewer’s eye in the interior of your image and on your primary subject (which you have placed per the rule of thirds).

These edge intrusions can actually be difficult to notice when composing pictures because you’re focusing your attention on your subject. Photoshop’s Clone tool, although designed to create copies (or clones) of objects, is a great tool for removing these intrusions. With it, you can copy adjacent scenery (grass, sky, etc.) over the intrusion and eliminate it altogether, as shown in Figure B.

B

 

 

Problem 3: Everything looks washed out

The human eye is very sensitive to contrast, the difference between the darkest dark and the lightest light. If the tonal range is black to white, the image has good contrast. All too often, however, the range is markedly less, with the darks (or shadows) not completely black and the lights (or highlights) not completely white. These images feel a little dull or washed out, as if they were taken on a hazy day.

While Photoshop has an Au...