I Tried to Make a Horrible Photo Look Great


We all take bad photos, whether you are a photographer or just someone snapping photos on a phone for fun. What happens to those photos? Well, most of those bad photos would normally be deleted. In this blog post, I am going to show you how I made a bad photo that I took look a lot better… hopefully.

The Photo:
The photo I chose is way underexpose, the horizon is crooked, my hand moved when I took the photo causing some blur, and overall this photo was bad. Below you can see for yourself this bad photo:

The original photo

I am using Photoshop Elements 2020 to edit this photo and hopefully make it better. I am going to show you how I edited in a step-by-step format below. πŸ˜€

Photo in Photoshop before all edits

Step 1:

I first did an auto edit on the photo. All that edit did was brighten up some dark spots.

Auto Smart Fix (Sorry if the screenshot is slightly blurry, I had to crop it) πŸ™‚

Step 2:

For the next edit, I lightened up the shadows, darkened the highlights, and add some midtone contrast.

Shadow/Highlight editing

Step 3:

Next, I fixed one of the big flaws in the photo (in my opinion) which was the crooked horizon.

Straightening the horizon

Step 4:

By making the horizon straight I made a new problem with the edges. To fix the black edges I did some proximity matching on the photo.

Healing the edges

Step 5:

For the next bit I added some saturation and brightened the photo up.

Adjusting photo colors

Step 6:

Next I added more contrast to the photo.

Again, sorry for the blur on the screenshot. πŸ™‚

Step 7:

Right now we have the photo below:

What we have now…

In my opinion, this is still not a super great photo. I think what I want to do next is to add a filter on top of this. Photoshop is certainly not the greatest with filters so I decided to open the photo up into PhotoScape X Editor (A post is coming on this editor next week 😊) I am also going to work on the color, detail, etc. in PhotoScape.

Step 8:

Now that the photo is in PhotoScape I am going to use the HDR to enhance the photo.

Added HDR

Step 9:

For the next edit I just worked on removing the grain in the photo. From doing all of these edits, I got some artifacts and grain in the photo which needs to be improved.

Removing artifacts and grain

Step 10:

Below you can see that I decided to mess with the colors a bit more. I felt that the colors were a bit too cool and using the Auto Color, the program warmed the photo up a little.

Auto Coloring the photo

Step 11:

Okay, so next I went into colors to do a bit more tweaking. Below is a screenshot of all of the changes that I did and the amount that I changed each thing.

Color edits

Step 12:

Finally I feel that I am done with all of the color edits and it is time to move over to the filters. The filter I chose was called “Retro 1980” and added an old effect to the photo.

Why did I do this? I feel that because the original photo had some motion blur and during the edits I did add some unintentional grain, the photo would be better off with the addition of an overall “older look”.

Adding a Filter

Finally, I have decided that I will finish editing here. I have made a pretty bad photo look better. Does it look great? Well, I will let you decide that on your own.

Below, depending on what device you are reading this on, you will either have a slider to compare the original and final photo or you will have two photos. Either way, you can compare the original photo to the one that has come out of my edits.

Now, it is time for me to wrap up this blog post in saying a big thank you to you for reading this! This has been a ton of work so I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments about this post and the edit on this photo!

-Digital Wonders & Smiles

Published by Digital Wonders and Smiles

I am a photographer, writing a photography blog here on WordPress. I am based in the USA and take photos in my hometown. I also occasionally travel both domestically and internationally and write photoblog posts and make videos about these trips! On my blog, I cover everything from mobile photography to dslr photography to photography techniques for anyone!

4 thoughts on “I Tried to Make a Horrible Photo Look Great

  1. I got tired of having to straighten my photos so I changed my settings to show the rule of third grid. I thought it would be distracting but its not. Its just an added aid for composition. I also raised my ISO trading off a little extra noise for a faster shutter speed. Of course a tripod is the best way to go but like most people I rarely use it.

    Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, it is pretty annoying. I only just got this new camera and so I still need to add the grid. The funny thing about this photo is that I was out with someone and they made me laugh so I jolted the camera and the horizon came out crooked! πŸ˜‚ I do love using my tripod but you are right that it is often left at home. 😊 Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

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