Lesson 4: Fixing Common Problems
Images that come straight from a digital camera aren’t always perfect. As you start to gain more experience with image editing, you may notice some recurring problems with images that you’ll want to fix. For example, some images may be too bright, while others may be too dark or blurry. There are many corrections that can make your images look dramatically better. Some of the corrections we’ll cover in this lesson include:
- Brightness and contrast: If an image is too bright or too dark, you can adjust the brightness and contrast.
- Color: If the colors in an image are muted or dull, you can use a variety of color correction tools, including saturation.
- Sharpness: If an image is less clear than you’d like it to be, you can sharpen it.
Want to see the difference corrections can make? Take a look at the example below. It only took a few quick corrections to make the image look brighter, clearer, and more colorful. If you want to follow along, you can download some or all of our example images. Just click any of the images below to open a full-sized version, then right-click the full-sized version and select Save Image As to save it to your computer.
About this lesson
Just like in the previous lesson, we’ll show you how to make these adjustments with Pixlr X, a free web-based image editor you can use from almost any computer with an Internet connection. If you’re using a mobile device, you can use the free Pixlr mobile app. If you have a different image editing program, you can still follow along. These features will work roughly the same way for most image editors. However, note that some basic image editing programs, like Microsoft Paint, do not include all of the tools we’ll discuss in this lesson.
Image editing tips
Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you start working with images. If you’re new to image editing, we also recommend reading the first lesson in this tutorial.
- Keep your originals: If you’re planning to make even basic changes to an image, you should also keep an original unedited version of the file. We recommend making a habit of doing this whenever you’re working with image files. This way, you’ll always be able to go back to the original version.
- Combine different adjustments: You may find that images are often in need of more than just one correction. For example, some images might be improved by both brightness and color adjustments, while others can benefit from cropping and sharpening. It’s all about finding what works to bring out the best in each image.
- Experiment: There’s no perfect formula for editing images. As long as you keep a copy of the original file, feel free to try different adjustments to find what works for your image. If you change your mind later on, you can always go back to the original version and start over.
Brightness and contrast
Sometimes an image may look too bright or too dark. This can be caused by several factors, including the lighting where the photo was taken and camera settings. You can offset this by adjusting the brightness and contrast of the image.
When you adjust the brightness, you’re changing the overall level of light and dark in the image. If an image is too dark, you can try increasing the brightness, as in the example below. However, increasing the brightness for a very dark image can lead to a lot of image noise, or graininess. This is because you’re also brightening any noise the image may have. In the example below, you may notice that the green background in the image on the right looks rough and grainy. We’ll cover reducing image noise later in this lesson.
When you increase the contrast, you’re making the difference between the light and dark areas of the image more noticeable. In other words, you’re making the dark parts darker and the light parts lighter. In the example below, notice how the sky at the top of the image becomes brighter, but the trees and rocks become darker. However, increasing the contrast too much can lead to a loss in image detail. It will also usually increase the saturation of the image, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Drag the slider in the interactive below to adjust the contrast of the image. For best results, we recommend using the Chrome web browser with these interactives.
To adjust the brightness and contrast:
Remember, we’ll be using Pixlr X throughout this lesson, so this process may vary depending on the software you’re using.
- Go to Pixlr X in your web browser, then click Open Image to select the image from your computer.
- Click the Adjust button.
- Click and drag the sliders to adjust the brightness and contrast. Take some time to try out different combinations to find what looks best for the image. A preview will appear as you adjust each setting. In this example, we’re actually decreasing the contrast to prevent the brightest parts of the image from looking too bright.
- If you like the results, click the Save button to keep this new version of the image.
Many advanced image editing applications, including Photoshop, also feature other tools to adjust settings like levels and curves. These tools are similar to the ones shown above, but they’ll give you an even finer level of control over brightness and contrast. To learn more about using levels and curves, review our Photoshop Basics tutorial.
There may be times when you want to adjust the colors in an image. For example, you may want to highlight certain colors in the image or even change the colors for artistic effect.
Sometimes the colors in an image may appear to be dull or muted. You can compensate for this by increasing the saturation, which can make the colors look richer, or more vivid. You can see an example of this in the images below. On the other hand, you can reduce the saturation to make the colors less vivid. If you remove the saturation completely, it will produce a black-and-white, or grayscale, image. You can see an example of this in the images below.
Drag the slider in the interactive below to adjust the saturation of the image. Careful, though! Too much saturation will cause the image to lose detail.
To adjust the saturation:
- With the image open in Pixlr X, click the Adjust button.
- Click and drag the Saturation slider to increase or decrease the saturation. A preview will appear as you adjust the setting.
- If you’re satisfied with the results, click the Save button to keep this new version of the image.
Be careful not to increase the saturation too much. This can cause the colors to look unnatural, as in the example below.
Other color corrections
There are many other ways to adjust the colors in an image. Color correction tools may vary depending on your image editing application, but you can learn more about some common ones below.
- Vibrance: This tool lets you boost the saturation for the parts of the image that are less colorful without oversaturating the parts that are already colorful. This helps prevent the colors from looking unnatural.
- Temperature: This tool adjusts how warm or cool the colors in the image appear. In general, a warmer temperature will look more red or orange, while a cooler temperature will look more blue.
- Filters: Many apps, such as Instagram, have predefined combinations of color adjustments that you can quickly apply to create interesting effects. For example, they can make your photos look like they were taken with a vintage camera.
Sometimes an image may not be as clear as you’d like it to be. Sharpening can help make them look crisp and clear by enhancing the edges of objects in the image. However, adding too much sharpness can actually make an image look worse, or lead to a loss in image detail. Take a look at the example below. As you can see, the right amount of sharpness makes the photo look very crisp. In the center image, for example, it’s easy to see the edges of the bird’s feathers. But adding too much sharpness can cause the edges to look exaggerated and unnatural, as in the image on the right. You may have also noticed that the background in the over-sharpened image has a lot of added image noise.
Drag the slider in the interactive below to adjust the sharpness of the image. Try to make the image look crisp but not oversharpened.
To sharpen an image:
- With the image open in Pixlr X, click the Filter button.
- Click and drag the slider to add the desired amount of sharpness. A preview will appear as you adjust each setting.
- If you’re happy with the end result, click the Save button to keep this new version of the image.
To learn more about sharpening, review this tutorial from Cambridge in Colour.
Some images may have a lot of noise, which causes them to look grainy. You can compensate for this by reducing the image noise, as in the example below. Just like the other adjustments we cover in this lesson, you’ll need to use this feature carefully. Removing too much noise from the image can result in blurriness and a loss of detail.
Drag the slider in the interactive below to adjust the level of noise reduction. Remember, removing too much noise will cause the image to lose detail. Try to find a level that makes the image look clean without losing too much detail.
To reduce image noise:
Like many basic image editing applications, Pixlr X does not include a noise-reduction tool. You can, however, use the free Pixlr Editor to reduce image noise if this tool is not included in your image editing application.
- Go to the Pixlr Editor, then select Open image from computer to open the image.
- Click the Filter menu, then select Denoise. In other applications, this option may say Reduce Noise.
- Some noise will be removed from the image. You may need to use this tool more than once to remove the desired amount of noise.
- Click the File menu, then choose Save to save this new version of the image.
If you’re using Photoshop, you’ll be able to adjust the amount of noise that is reduced. For more information, review our Photoshop Basics tutorial.
Automatic adjustment tools
If you’re not exactly sure what kind of corrections to use—or if you’re just looking for a quick way to make your images look better—many applications include an automatic adjustment tool. This feature will analyze the image and make corrections to try to improve its appearance. In Pixlr X, you can find this tool by clicking Adjust, then the Auto Fix button. Other applications, such as Photoshop, may have more specific tools. Photoshop has several options, including Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color. Most of the time, these tools will improve the overall look of an image. However, you can always manually adjust an image after using them. One idea might be to use an automatic adjustment tool first, and then make smaller corrections to get the image to look exactly the way you want.
Other common corrections
There are several other corrections you may need to make, depending on the type of image you’re editing. For example, many image editing applications include a red eye-removal tool, which you can use to fix a common problem that happens when the camera’s flash causes a subject’s eyes to look red. Many programs also include a set of touch-up tools, which you can use to remove blemishes or unflattering details from images.
To practice making the adjustments covered in this lesson, download some or all of our example images. Just click any of the images below to open a full-sized version, then right-click the full-sized version and select Save Image As to save it to your computer.
- Open an image in an image editing application, like Pixlr X.
- Try increasing and decreasing the brightness and contrast of an image. Take the brightness or contrast to the highest and lowest settings to see the effect. Try to find the settings that look best for the image.
- Try increasing and decreasing the saturation of an image. Take the saturation to the highest and lowest settings to see the effect. Try to find the setting that looks best for the image.
- Experiment with other color correction tools like Temperature and Vibrance to see how they work.
- Try sharpening an image to see if it can improve clarity.
- Save a copy of the edited image. You’ll want to choose a new file name to avoid accidentally overwriting the original version.
Use PhotoWorks to give your pictures a polished look and try other techniques!
Full support for Windows 11, 10, 8, 7
How to Improve the Quality of Photos with Zero Experience
Have a large collection of photos that need some improving? Cannot use a favorite image as an avatar because it is too dim or blurred? Now you do not have to possess professional skills to effectively enhance your pictures and restore their quality. Get started with PhotoWorks software and see for yourself that adjusting the color scheme or applying stylish effects is easier than you thought. Read this tutorial till the end and you will learn how to enhance a photo using PhotoWorks and other computer, mobile, and web-based programs. Now it’s time to discover the secret techniques. Enhancing the picture quality: before-after Like the edited picture more than its lifeless original? Then let’s enhance your photos as well. To get going, press the button below and download PhotoWorks. You can install it absolutely for free. Once PhotoWorks is launched, you’re ready to switch to our photo editing guide with the following 8 ways. You’ll learn how to improve the quality of a picture by adjusting the exposure, tweaking the color balance, improving the sharpness, cropping, and applying vignette. We’ll also show you how to retouch a portrait, erase odd objects, and add captions to photos. Got intrigued? Then get down to work and turn your regular images into masterpieces.
Way 1. Correct the Exposure Level
One of the biggest problems every photographer faces is poor lighting that ruins the tone and conceals important details. To make a low quality picture high quality, you’ll need to correct its exposure for a start.
- Use auto enhancement. Auto enhance photos with light and color correction. Thanks to smart image editing algorithms, PhotoWorks detects individual lighting issues of each picture and fixes only them without ruining the parts that don’t need any retouching.
- Adjust exposure for better quality. If needed, move the Exposure slider to the right to make the image lighter or to the left to darken it.
- Modify the chosen photo areas. You can also lighten or darken particular areas using Highlights and Shadows. Drag the Shadows and Blacks sliders to -40 and -21, respectively.
- Take care of white balance. The white balance of the photo is also affected by bad lighting. Let’s put the Temperature slider to 44 and the tones will become much warmer.
Adjusting the exposure of the photo Looking for a way to enhance and bring back to life the photos from your family archive? Don’t know how to restore the old pictures? With PhotoWorks, you can not only enhance your recent images, but fix the old precious photos as well.
Way 2. Adjust the Color Balance
Color correction is just one step of entire photo editing process but it can make all the difference. Take an average shot and make it really pop with the right colors. Here we have decided to make the roof in the background dimmer and less distracting.
- Correct the overall tone. Switch to the Colors tab. Here, you can control the hue (actual colors), saturation (the amount of grey in a color) and luminance (the ratio of white and black) of your photo.
- Work with separate objects. Change the hue of certain objects. Click Saturation and move the Magentas slider to -100 so the roof becomes less prominent.
- Play with Tone Mapping. Adjust the color balance and shed more light on the photo with Tone Mapping. Pick a suitable color tinge and set the Overlay blend mode for the best effect.
Play with the color balance and change the atmosphere of your photo
Way 3. Increase Sharpness
If your photo looks too blurred and obscure, these imperfections seriously affect its quality. The easiest way is to sharpen the blurry photo so all the small elements will be better seen.
- Zoom in to see the changes. For a start, let’s zoom in the photo we are working with to control all the changes.
- Start enhancing the picture. Next, switch to the Sharpness tab and set the Amount slider at 95.
- Make the photo look natural. If needed, play with the Radius and Threshold settings to make the effect more natural.
Increase the sharpness settings to highlight small details
Way 4. Crop the Photo
How to make a great portrait photo out of an unimpressive shot? The secret is to improve its composition. If you could not create a perfect scene while shooting, you can still make pictures look better through cropping.
- Try enhancing images with cropping. Click Tools in the upper toolbar of the program window and choose the Crop tool.
- Pick a suitable aspect ratio. The program will offer seven aspect ratios to choose from, like free, fixed, 1:1 square, 16:9 HD, 3:2 iPhone, etc.
- Set a preferred grid overlay. With the right grid overlay you won’t cut any vital parts of your image. In this case, we chose the Rule of Thirds and placed the woman at the intersection of the lines to create a better composition.
Put the best parts into focus with the Crop tool While working with the Crop tool, be careful not to make your bad quality photo even worse. Each time you cut away some area of your picture you reduce its resolution. What’s more, if you crop a small image and then try enlarging the edited part, you will end up with a heavily pixelated photo.
Way 5. Apply the Vignette Effect
Artistic effects and masks can also help you improve image quality and give it a stylish look. Here, we’ll highlight the person in the center of the portrait photo by applying a vignette effect. Rounded darkening or lightening will help to guide the viewer’s attention to the woman in the photo.
- Improve picture quality with effects. Move to the Tools tab and click Vignetting.
- Control the vignette amount. In order to darken the image edges, let’s set the Amount slider at -70.
- Manage the vignette size & form. The Roundness and Feather settings will help you control the form of the vignette and soften or harden its edges.
Applying the Vignette effect for a more stylish look Is there anything you would like to conceal in your photo? Find out how to blur a part of a picture and give it a professional look.
Way 6. Retouch Your Image
Most pictures capture ordinary people, not movie stars, and real people can have glare on their faces, wrinkles around eyes, and skin blemishes. If you look closer at the woman in the picture, you will see the skin is baggy below her eyes. These ‘defects’ are almost impossible to conceal while shooting, but they can be erased in post-production.
- Pick the Adjustment Brush tool. Open the Retouch tab and use the Adjustment Brush to digitally conceal the eye bags.
- Conceal imperfections on the photo. View the photo at 200% scale and set the size of the Adjustment Brush at 3 to fix only the area below the woman’s eyes.
- Smoothen the edited area. Now drag the Exposure slider to 5 to lighten the shadows under the eyes, and apply the result to save the changes.
Way 7. Remove Unwanted Objects
One more way to enhance image quality is to remove unwanted objects from a photo. It can be an unexpected passer-by, a garbage can, or small details you’d rather not show. Here, for example, the grass blade in the foreground is quite distracting.
- Choose the Clone Stamp. While in the program, move to the Tools tab and click on the Clone Stamp.
- Change the brush size. Make the brush a bit bigger than the grass blade and move the tool along the undesired area.
- Borrow pixels from other area. Copy and paste the pixels from the chosen area to the affected one. The chosen area will be automatically replaced with the skin color.
Way 8. Add a Caption
It is common for photographers to sign their works and you can easily do the same! Move to the Captions tab and click Add Text. Type in your name and position it in the image. There is a vast collection of ready-made text styles to choose from, including gothic, funny, calligraphic and graffiti. In Additional settings you can also pick the font you like. Here we have chosen Gabriola to put a caption on a photo since its letters look quite stylish and are big enough to see in the image corner. Add a personal signature to mark your photo work Need to type the same text on a group of photos? No worries — in the Batch Processing Mode, you can add a watermark caption, signature, or date stamp to all of them just in a couple of clicks. Not only can you insert a caption, but also edit multiple pictures at once using an array of editing features. If you want to learn more about how to enhance photo quality in the bulk editing mode, try one of these recommendations. The editing process is not the main point of photo enhancement, is it? What we want are top-notch results which we can’t achieve if we go too hard on post-production. In the example above, we made all the necessary adjustments, but for other pictures, you could make use of the following features:
- put a white background on a picture
- replace the sky with another
- add a border to a picture
- apply funky filters to images
- add a photo to another photo
- whiten the model’s teeth
- change the eye colour in a picture
Still asking yourself how to enhance your pictures? Watch this video and you’ll discover three simple tricks of photo improvement. Aren’t the changes amazing? All you need to do to improve the quality of your photos is press the button and install the lightweight photo editor on your computer. Run the program, import images to PhotoWorks, and finally perfect your pictures.
How to Enhance Image Quality in Other Programs
As we promised, we’ll also show you how to enhance a picture with several other photo editors. Let’s begin with alternatives for computers, e.g., GIMP, a free photo editor available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The software allows you to fix the composition, adjust colors, remove the red eye effect, delete objects, etc., but its interface might seem cluttered at first. Despite this, GIMP is a good option to get started with. If you want a program for subtle editing, then go for Adobe Photoshop. There’s a wide range of tools that will help you enhance the picture quality — Lasso, Clone Stamp, Layers, Healing Brush, Liquify filter, and more. For professional results yet simple interface, check out Lightroom. With this software, you can reduce noise, add sharpness, retouch skin imperfections, and even save changes as a preset. Edit your photos with Adobe Lightroom Sometimes there’s no access to a computer, but we always have a smartphone at hand. Here’s how to improve the photo quality using a mobile device — for this task, you can download Remini from Google Play or App Store. Just a few taps and your images get sharper, and the unwanted blur is removed. You can also try VSCO, a mobile photo editor packed with pro-level tools. It will let you enhance the quality, add a picture to a picture, apply filters, resize images, and so on. But you’ll need to create an account to use it on your Android or iOS device. However, imagine a situation when you need to improve a picture for your social page but don’t have the time to master some software. That’s when online photo editors like Canva will come to rescue! This is a browser-based service popular among amateur and professional graphic designers and photographers. You can use ready-made templates, create your own design, and upload your pictures to change them in the built-in photo editor — make basic adjustments, apply filters, crop images, and change their transparency.
Enhance the Photo Quality: Conclusion
Perfect photo editors don’t exist, but you can still find the one that works best for you. In this article, we showed how to enhance a photo using high class software for Windows and Mac, mobile applications, and an Internet photo editor. So you sure will find a suitable option among the ways described above. Yet you won’t regret it if you begin your photo editing journey with PhotoWorks — it doesn’t take up too much space, is beginner-friendly, and guarantees pro-level results. Now give it a try and share your new high-quality photos with your friends. PhotoWorks team, a dedicated group of authors and artists with a passion for photography and graphic design. We are happy to bring you first-class content to make your exploration of our software easy and enjoyable. Some moments leave their mark — and, whether it’s a wedding day or that weekend getaway, the way we display them should do the same. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as one would think to enlarge an image without losing quality. We hear you! So we’re sharing some simple steps we can all take to blow up photos crisply — regardless of software or skill-level. May it help turn those little moments you hold close into the large prints you display proudly.
It All Comes Down to Quality
Once upon a time, it took a high-end digital camera to capture photos worth enlarging or a photo lab scanner to enlarge a photo print. But in the days of modern smartphone cameras with lenses that surpass 10 megapixels, any image from your camera has the potential to become a beautiful Large Format Print. (To give you an idea, the iPhone 11 has a 12 megapixel lens!) The first step is getting a sense of just how big you can go with an image you love. It all boils down to dots per inch (DPI), aka the number of dots printed in every inch of your image. The more dots, the clearer the image. The lower the DPI, the grainier the result and the lower the quality. We’ll show you how to determine your photo’s DPI in just a bit.
What’s the Best DPI for Printing?
For the highest quality photo prints, we generally recommend 300 DPI. (This is what you’ll hear referred to as a «giclée» print sometimes.) However, most images will still look good and avoid pixelation at 150 DPI or above. Simply put: Don’t blow up photos to more than double what the max size was at full quality. Anything below 150 DPI, and our editor will warn you that you’re uploading a low-resolution image. It’s also worth noting that photos from your phone, Facebook, or Instagram are generally sized for the web at 72 DPI — no matter how powerful your smartphone camera is. Luckily, this is easy enough to adjust.
How to Enlarge an Image to Print
Your computer’s native photo editing tools are generally all you need to adjust DPI and get your photo ready for print. (If you have Photoshop or other similar photo editing software, we’ll get into some additional things you can do later in this post.) Tuning DPI will also show you the largest size at which you can keep the original quality of your photo.
- Double-click your file to open it in preview. (To open multiple images, highlight them all, right click, and click «open.»)
- In the menu bar, click on «Tools».
- Select «Adjust Size» in the «Tools» dropdown menu. (You should now see adjustable cells for Width, Height, and Resolution show up.)
- Choose «inches» for Width and Height and «pixels/inch» for Resolution. (For our purposes we can treat pixels/inch and DPI as one and the same.)
- Uncheck the “Resample Image” checkbox and set your Resolution to 300 pixels/inch. The dimensions for your maximum Width and Height at 300 DPI will appear automatically.
- Once you resize your image to your liking, click okay and save the file. (Don’t worry about getting the aspect ratio just right, you can easily crop in our editor!)
Once you know your maximum Width and Height at 300 DPI, you can play around to see how large you can go without losing too much quality. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you whether size or quality is more important for the photo at hand.
A Little Trick to Go Bigger
Dead set on enlarging a digital image, but can’t get the resolution you need at the size you want? Get the image printed at its max size at 300 DPI, then scan it. While it might seem counterintuitive, the high resolution of the scanner will allow you to enlarge the image up to four times the size. We cover how that works right below.
How to Enlarge Old Photos Without Losing Quality
Scanning old photos comes with its own considerations — but much like their digital counterparts, enlarging printed photos is a matter of DPI. In this case, it all comes down to the DPI of the scanner. Many at-home scanners can capture images at up to 1200 DPI — four times the resolution needed to produce a high-quality print! That means you should be able to scan a print and reprint it four times larger, all the while keeping the quality of the scanned image. Start by increasing the resolution in your scanner settings, as it most likely won’t be set to 1200 DPI automatically. Once you scan the image, you’ll need to adjust the resolution on the digital file too. Just follow the same steps from earlier in the post!
Setting Photos Up for Success
When you blow up a photo beyond its original size, you’re going to lose some resolution — or simply put, you’re going to lose quality. It’s a bit like rolling out dough: You can only roll it out so thin before it becomes too thin. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to minimize the loss for meaningful photos you’d like to put front and center. Better yet, you can set yourself up for success in the first place by following some simple tips.
Use Your Digital Camera When It Counts
If you’ve bought a digital camera in the past five years, it’s probably safe to assume that it captures crisper photos than your new smartphone. Do a little research to see which of the two has a higher megapixel lens, and make sure to use that camera for the shots you may want to put on display later on.
Shoot Using the Largest Size Possible
If you’re shooting in raw, you’re probably fine. But if you choose to shoot in jpeg, it’s important that you set your camera to the highest possible quality settings. The higher the quality of the jpeg, the larger you can print a photo without losing quality.
Eliminate «Digital Noise» When Shooting
By using a low ISO when shooting, you can eliminate the grain or «noise» that surfaces at photos shot with a higher ISO. To capture a bright image at a low ISO, try decreasing shutter speed for a longer exposure. Just note that this will make it all the more important to keep your camera shake at a minimum.
How to Enlarge an Image in Photoshop
Have Adobe Photoshop on your computer? That changes things just a bit. You still won’t be able to (and probably shouldn’t) enlarge your image to drastic proportions, but the quality will be better if you follow these steps:
- Open your image in Photoshop.
- Go to the Image Size dialog, check resample, and select «Preserve Details» in the corresponding dropdown menu.
- Make sure the Resolution is set to 300 Pixels/Inch.
- Set Width and Height to inches and adjust to enlarge your image. (Remember, you probably don’t want to go beyond twice the size of your original image!)
- Save the now enlarged image as a «Smart Object» if you haven’t already.
- Duplicate the layer and set the blend mode to «soft light.»
- Apply a «High Pass» filter.
- Create an enhanced edge by adjusting the preview. (This will take a few tries to dial in!)
Ready to Enlarge Your Photos?
With a sense of how big you can go in hand, it’s time to consider some of the types of photo prints. Our Large Format Prints pair giclée print quality with archival paper for true-to-life preservation of those larger-than-life moments. Shop Large Format Prints
- How to defeat ancano in skyrim
- How to make your own diary
- How to reset user options and registry settings in word
- How to enable or disable notification dots in android 8.0 oreo
- How to hire a private investigator