7 Easy Photoshop Fixes for Your Family Photos

by Katrina Simeck on 30 November 2010 (4 comments)

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If you are the proud owner of a digital camera, chances are that you’ve got hundreds (if not thousands) of photos on your hard drive. A huge advantage of going digital is that you can take as many shots as you need to capture the “perfect” image.

However, despite constant clicking, you’re likely to want to learn to improve your photos with an editing program such as Adobe Photoshop.

Read on for seven easy fixes that every photographer should know.

1. Put Your Best Face Forward

If you’re using an on-camera flash, you’re likely dealing with annoying red-eye in your photos. In addition to red-eye, you may encounter small imperfections in your portraits. Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo is just simple red-eye and blemish removal.

Red-eye removal is simple with Photoshop’s redeye removal tool:

1. Open the photo and duplicate image.

2. Zoom in on the eyes (you can select them with the rectangle tool).

3. Select the red-eye tool – you’ll find it under the spot healing tool.



4. With the tool selected, click once on the red portion of the eye.

The fastest way to remove blemishes is to use the clone tool:

1. Open the photo that contains minor skin imperfections and duplicate image.

2. Select the clone stamp tool.

3. Adjust the diameter of the brush to be slightly larger than the blemish.

4. In the options bar, change the mode to “lighten.”



5. Place the brush over an area of clear skin that is very near the blemish.

6. Hold the “alt” key and click once.

7. Now move the brush so that it covers the blemish. Click once (be careful not to paint).


2. Let there be Light (in Dark Photos)

It might seem obvious to use the Brightness/Contrast function to bring light into a dark photo. This function can be useful for minor improvements, but you’ll find more flexibility with the Levels tool. To use Levels:

1. Open the dark photo and duplicate image.

2. Select image > adjustments > levels (or Ctrl-L).

3. Pull the grey slider to the left to gradually brighten the photo.

4. If you need to add more contrast, pull the white slider to the left.


3. Keep Color in Balance

Despite my best efforts to control color with white balance, I still find the need to adjust colors in my photos at times.

The quickest way to do this is to choose image>adjustments>variations. This auto-function will allow you to see color variations quickly.

You can also use the Color Balance function:

1. Open the photo and duplicate image.

2. Choose image>adjustments>color balance (or ctrl-B).

3. Use the sliders to manipulate the color families in the photo. Be sure to put a check next to “preview” so that you can instantly see results, and adjust as necessary.


4. Making Colors Pop 

Bright saturated colors are all the rage in photography. I often use intense colors and high contrast to add a more dramatic feeling to my photos. To bring a little more “pop” to your photos, follow these simple steps:

1. Open the photo, duplicate the image.

2. Choose image>adjustments>hue/saturation.

3. Increase saturation as desired.

4. Choose image>adjustments>curves. Pull the line up slightly from the middle of the grid.

5. To increase the effect, pull top right corner of the line slightly to the left.

6. Finish by choosing image>adjustments>contrast, and increase contrast until desired effect is achieved.


5. Converting to Black & White

Black & white conversion brings a classic look to portraits, and can help calm busy backgrounds in photos. Everyone has their favorite conversion methods, so you’ll want to experiment until you find your black & white groove. The method that I use most often is this:

1. Open the photo, duplicate the image.

2. Choose image>adjustments>desaturate (this will remove color from the photo, but will likely leave it looking flat).

3. Choose image>adjustments>curves.

4. Drag the line into a gentle “S” shape.


6. Adding a Touch of Tint

Want to get a little more creative with your photo conversions? If you’d like to add a wash of color to a black & white image, start by following the b&w conversion steps listed above. To add a custom tint:

1. Choose image>adjustments>hue/saturation.

2. Check the box in the lower right hand corner that says “colorize.”

3. Adjust the Hue slider to get the desired tint.

4. Adjust the Saturation slider to adjust the intensity of the tint (desaturating will give your photo more of a vintage look).


7. Staying Sharp for Print & Web

As a final step in your editing process, you’ll want to ensure that your photos are sharp for printing, or posting on the web. You can accomplish this by using the Unsharp Mask (I know it sounds contradictory – trust me, it works!).

1. Ensure that you’ve made all the desired changes to your photo.

2. Choose filter>sharpen>unsharp mask.

3. Adjust the sliders until you reach the desired effect – be careful not to over-sharpen and create digital halos around objects/people in your photo.

4. If you are sharpening for web, resize your photo first, and then use the unsharp filter.

Learning to edit photos can be daunting, but with these seven Photoshop fixes, your photos will be frame-worthy in no time. Say cheese! 

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Guest's picture

On a money saving blog you should really mention gimp. It's just as powerful as photoshop, but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It's free/open source.

Will Chen's picture

That's a great suggestion. We've done a couple of open source articles in the past, but it has been a while and maybe we should do a new one focused on photo editing.

I've never tried GIMP personally, but I've heard good things about Picasa for making easy photo edits:


Guest's picture

Thanks for this post! This was just what I needed to give my photos a boost.

Guest's picture
Shohel Rana

What a helpful post! I needed it urgently and you provided this. Thanks a million for sharing.