It’s usually possible to fix most bad photos in photo editing software like Photoshop. But there are some things you just can’t fix – bad focus and overexposure. So let’s learn how to have fun with those bad photos anyway. These examples aren’t from a wedding, but the tips will help you (or your guests) take the right right shot the first time.
Poor focus can be caused by actual bad focus or camera shake. You can wind up with bad focus because you focused on a moving target, or used auto focus but didn’t lock the focus on your subject first. You can wind up with camera shake if you are using too slow a shutter speed. Or, as I found out recently, you have an old point and shoot with a real sticky shutter button.
In the photo below, we see a fantastic expression on our clown’s face. The photo seems to be pretty well exposed, and yet… it’s out of focus. Let’s see a close-up of his face.
What a waste of a great shot. Oh well, it’ll look good in wallet size prints.
Let’s see if the sharpen tool or filter can do anything for us.
Not too bad. I tried the sharpen filter a few times but didn’t like the results. This time I tried the smart sharpen filter. I set amount to 445% and the radius to 3.6 pixels. Any larger radius and a halo appeared around the nose. here’s a close-up:
It’s still not good. Photoshop can’t really fix bad focus, but perhaps I can print out a 4×6 instead of a wallet without wanting to throw it away. This would also work in a slideshow for the web if there is no zooming into the photo.
Overexposure can be caused by a couple of things. You were playing around with the manual settings and forgot that you changed locations (or took the lens cap off). Or, you had it on a programmed mode, aimed the camera at something dark and let the camera set the exposure based on that. Or, it could be that you have a scene with a large dynamic range (the contrast between the darkest and lightest elements of the composition). You exposed for something in the middle and hoped for the best.
Either way, you now have a photo with detail that is lost due to overexposure (see above). The blurred background appears to be correctly exposed, but our subject is bathed in too much light.
So, let’s bring it into Photoshop and try to fix it. Here’s what happened when I tried a simple levels adjustment.
No good. Still no detail in his face.
Let’s try adjusting the exposure. I’ll just darken it a bit. After all, that’s what I messed up on in the first place.
My, my. That photo is still looking like it’s heading for the trash bin. Time to play.
Like this post on shooting portraits into the sun, this one is a bit artsy and not to everyone’s taste, but it suits me just fine. I got rid of most of the contrast and added a levels adjustment. It brings out his ginormous dark eyelashes and cute nose.
Basic Photography Skills Do Matter
This is when you realize that it’s important to have a grasp on the basics of photography. Know how to hold your camera so that it doesn’t shake. If you are on auto mode and your subject is not centered, aim the camera at them to set the exposure and focus. Most cameras will allow you to hold down the shutter button halfway and recompose the shot, while retaining the proper focus and exposure.
After the wedding and you’ve collected hundreds of guest photos (make it easy), don’t delete those that didn’t come out perfect. Try some basic fixes in a photo editor can bring them to life. Plus you can have fun playing with the photos. See what happens when crop, add filters, brighten. Have fun with your photos.