3 Tips For Making a “Bad” Photo Amazing (And a Fun 12×12 layout)

You are my home

Some of my favorite photos I have ever taken are either slightly blurry, grainy, or taken in some horrible lighting.  In my ideal world there would be fantastic lighting everywhere I’d go and my subjects would always pause for a second while I captured that perfect shot (#yeahright).  That’s obviously not a reality, but there are some things that can be done to improve the look of a photo with just a few Photoshop tweaks.  Today I’d like to share my favorite method for a quick fix in this situation.

The photo that I’ve used in this layout is super special to me because it captures a typical moment in our everyday life.  It was totally unplanned right up until I decided to snap the photo.  We had just finished eating dinner when I grabbed my DSLR, set it on the opposite side of the table, set a 10 second timer and then jumped back in my chair and tried to act natural.  I took 3 photos (don’t worry, my husband already knows I’m crazy :-) and this was the last one.  It’s not completely “in the moment;”  we don’t always hold hands when we’re talking and we aren’t always this smiley in conversation, but still, this moment is actually pretty candid.

I instantly loved the photo, but I definitely didn’t love that orange cast of light that made me look like an oompa loompa.  So, here’s what I did!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.34.14 PM

One of my favorite ways to reduce the appearance of imperfections (grain, blur, bad lighting) is to desaturate the photo.  To do this in Photoshop you go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and then drag the Saturation arrow to -100.  Voila, black and white photo.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 3.45.39 PM

Now, if you had bad lighting in your photo to begin with, you might find that your photo comes out looking very flat in grayscale.  No worries, there’s an easy fix for this. Simply go back to Image > Adjustments and then Brightness/Contrast.  I increased my brightness in this photo a little bit and pulled the contrast way up.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 3.50.29 PM

The final step in my process is playing with the highlights.  You can find this adjustment option under Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights.  The difference is super subtle, but if you look closely you can see how the photo looks a little more crisp.   Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.29.44 PMNow that I no longer looked like an oompa loompa I could print this baby out use it for fun layout :-)

IMG_5804In my opinion, the best part about working with a black and white photo is that you can get a little crazy with the colors.  I normally wouldn’t pair baby pink with lime green because one of those colors would probably clash with the colors in the photo, but here the green adds an unexpected pop of color in a good way. IMG_5807IMG_5806

These leaves with the gold foil outlines from the November kit from Studio Calico have to be my favorite elements on the page.  I love the gold foil!IMG_5805See, super quick!  What Photoshop tricks are your favorite for enhancing the photos you might otherwise toss in a drawer?

Main Supplies Used:

October ‘Wink Wink’ kit by Studio Calico

November ‘Canyonlands’ kit by Studio Calico

Amy Tangerine Stitched Collection Paper 

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