Post-processing techniques to improve your photos

We have teamed up with to list a couple of useful post-processing tips to improve your photos.  Adobe Photoshop is the number 1 graphical editing and post processing application available. It’s often possible to improve an average photo, through post processing, into a stunning image, and below is a list of some of the most common techniques.  Photoshop CS5 Extended is not a cheap tool, and the full version retailed for around £650 or $999.  However, a more basic Photoshop Elements version is available for a lot less, around £60 or $99. Also, even if you don’t have Photoshop, you will be able to adopt many of these techniques with your own graphical application, such as Paint Shop Pro, or Gimp.

Take Raw Photos

One of the most versatile ways to alter your photos is to take pohtos in RAW format.  I use a Canon EOS 20D and I’m sure it’s similar with many cameras but you have the ability to take photos in RAW & Jpeg mode at the same time.  This takes up more space on your card naturally but it means you have a jpeg image for immediate use and then a RAW photo for making alterations at a later date.

If you open a RAW image in photoshop, an editor window will appear (as shown below).

From this window you can change virtually all characteristics of the image ranging from brightness/contrast & colour alterations to vignetting and sharpness. Once you are happy with your settings, you can then save your settings and/or open up the image in Photoshop and then make further alterations if you so wish.

Sharpen images in Photoshop using the ‘High Pass’ filter

This can be found in the menu Filter > Other > High Pass

To use this filter, open up an image that you wish to sharpen. In the example below the butterfly is slightly blurry.

If you duplicate this layer(control/cmd +j) and then run the high pass filter (filters > other > high pass), a box will appear with a radius slider. The image will be mostly gray.  To achieve the optimum sharpness, move the slider so that the edges of the image are starting to come through the gray, in this case 1% seems to work well.

Hit “OK” and then set the layer mode to overlay.  This enhances the edges of the image and makes the photo look sharper.  If you want the image to be sharper still, simply duplicate the high pass layer.  If that makes the image too sharp, then simply reduce the layer’s opacity.  The finished effect is shown below.

Remove unwanted artifacts from your photos using the ‘clone stamp’ tool

The clone stamp tool is useful to remove unwanted elements in a photo.  This could be anything from facial blemishes in a portrait photo, to unwanted elements in a landscape scene.

Clone stamp copies an area which is artifact free and pastes it on top of the unwanted element in the photo.

In this example, I want to remove the leaves on the ground.

Simply select the clone stamp tool (s), adjust the brush head ( using [ or ] ) to get the right size and then hold down the alt key and click near to the area you wish to hide. Release the alt key and then proceed to brush over the unwanted element. The result is shown below

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About Joe

I've been an avid photographer for about 15 years now. It started out when I got my first decent digital camera, which was an Olympus C700 Ultra zoom, a great camera which allowed me experiment with a range of photography styles. After that I moved on to SLRs, mostly with Canon, and enjoy all forms of photography although I'd probably say I most enjoy wide-angle landscape photography. My day job is to run this website, so I hope you enjoy your visit!

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