Routine camera mistakes are the bane of any photographer. In this guide we’ll show you how to deal with some of the most common photography problems and improve just about every photo you take with these seven essential Photoshop solutions.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 01 Recover blown-out skies
We’ve all taken a shot of a beautiful landscape only to find the sky looks washed out and nothing like it did at the time.
This is because skies are typically lighter than land, so if the land is correctly exposed, then the sky will be over-exposed. The best way to recover the detail is in Camera Raw or Lightroom.
Use the Highlights slider in the Basic Panel to knock back the lightest areas. If it’s not enough, use the Graduated Filter tool to drag a line from the top of the image in towards the land (hold Shift as you drag to keep it vertical).
Then drop the Exposure to gradually darken the sky, just like a lens-mounted filter.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 02 Reduce camera-shake blur
For Photoshop CC users, the Shake Reduction filter is a new and surprisingly effective way to correct camera shake.
Go to Filter>Sharpen>Shake Reduction and Photoshop automatically corrects the shake.
To take it further, you can add ‘multiple blur traces’ to correct different types of blur in separate areas of the image.
You can also tell Photoshop the direction the blur is going by drawing a straight line with the Blur Direction tool.
It’s very clever, and while perfect results aren’t guaranteed, it can help save an otherwise doomed image, or breathe new life into old shots that were once complete write-offs.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 03 One-click white balance fixes
If you shoot raw files then you’re free to set the white balance afterwards, so an image that looks too cool or warm is easy to fix.
Use Camera Raw or Lightroom for this. The White Balance settings are found in the Basic Panel.
Don’t bother with the presets, however – they rarely give accurate results. Instead, grab the White Balance tool, then click an area in the image that should be grey.
If necessary use the Temperature and Tint sliders to fine-tune the colour, or click another area in the image.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 04 The power of adjustment layers
Adjustment layers are one of the most useful of all Photoshop features.
Among the almost limitless array of effects they can provide, you can correct exposure problems, fix colour casts, convert to black and white, and increase punch and saturation.
Add adjustment layers by clicking the half-moon icon in the Layers panel.
Adjustment layers occupy their own slots in the layer stack, and affect all the layers below, which means not only can you add different combinations, you can also use masks, blend modes and opacity to change how the layer works.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 05 Reduce the noise levels
Noise reduction helps to remove the noise that deteriorates image quality, particularly when high ISOs have been used to take the shot.
SEE MORE: How to reduce noise at high ISO settings
The best place to carry out noise reduction is in Camera Raw’s Detail panel. Double click the Zoom tool to jump to 100% to accurately judge the settings.
Use the Luminance slider to fix the grainy noise, and the Color slider to remove any unsightly colour blobs. Be careful not to push it too far, though.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 06 Controlled cropping
Crop your images in Camera Raw so that the crop remains editable until you render the changes.
You can right click while using the Crop tool in Camera Raw to choose different aspect ratios for your crop, and press A if you need to straighten a horizon.
Photoshop Solutions to Common Problems: 07 Retouch in Camera Raw
Photoshop makes short work of blemishes and marks, whether it’s spots on skin, dust on the sensor or any other problem. Ideally, carry out as much work as possible in Camera Raw for the best quality.
SEE MORE: How to retouch photos in 10 easy steps
The newest version of the Spot Removal tool enables you to paint areas rather than just add heal points, which makes the tool a hundred times better.
Once open in Photoshop, use a combination of the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp tools to tidy up.
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