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8 Simple Secrets to Fix Bad Photos

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There are a number of reasons your images aren’t wowing critics or winning photo awards. Most of them are very easy to fix.
Reviewing your images before you leave a location is a great way to help fix bad photos. Then you at least get to have another go at it. For all other secrets to fix bad photos, read below.
A grainy concert photography shot of a performer onstage - how to fix bad photos

8. Use Composition to Add Interest to Your Images

Composition is one of the most basic ideas behind photography.  It is also one of the most important areas that many photographers overlook.
They think that by snapping away and capturing the scene without any forethought, it’s good enough.
This might work for documentary photographers placed in conflict zones, but most of us aren’t. The majority of photographers don’t only find exciting, thrilling and atmospherical scenes. We have to work with what we are given.
Compositions help us make a scene more interesting. We have all seen thousands of images taken at the beach.
The ones that stand out have something special from them. Generally, it will be the composition that turns a bad image into a good one.
A composition is used well when you can’t even tell it was an idea in the photographer’s mind. Subtle ideas are the best. For example, when capturing a landscape scene, go for the rule of thirds.
This doesn’t mean that everything in your scene needs to fall on the four intersections. You can use the lines between the intersections, guiding you to capture 1/3rd sky and 2/3rds land. Your viewers will thank you for it.
There are many different compositions you can use. Start by looking at our Beginners Guide to Composition. This is just one way you can help to fix bad photos.

A black and white street image by Craig Hull - how to fix bad photos
Craig Hull Photography –

7. Reflect the Light Temperature Through White Balance

White balance is very important, especially when you want your images to reflect a realistic environment. To ensure that the whites are whites, make sure you use the right setting for the light you are working with.
Every light source has a different temperature. The sun is warmer than moonlight, which is also warmer than a clear blue sky. This change in temperature needs to be accounted for.
Most beginner or hobbyist photographers will go for Automatic White Balance (AWB). This might allow you to photograph without thinking too much about your scene. However, it won’t give you the best and most realistic color cast.
In your camera settings, you can choose between Tungsten, Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade and Flash. By using a setting that reflects the light temperature as close as possible means a better-looking image.
His is especially true if you are photographing in jpg. For raw images, post-processing software, such as Lightroom, will allow you to play around with the image’s White Balance after the fact.
For more in-depth knowledge about how you can use white balance settings to fix bad photos, read our White Balance in 4 Simple Steps article.
A grid of cityscape photos comparing colour temperature settings in Tungsten, fluorescent, daylight, cloudy, shade and AWB - how to fix bad photos

6. Use Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is not a new feature within photography, but many photographers overlook it. Either they don’t know it exists, or simply don’t know how it works.
When you photograph in any semi-automatic camera setting, such as aperture or shutter priority, exposure compensation is possible. This scale allows you to tweak the exposure in your scene.
This is the only way to do so, as to change any settings would force the camera to meter the scene in the same way.
Manual mode doesn’t allow exposure compensation. To change a setting here doesn’t re-meter your scene.
The exposure compensation scale runs from ‘-3’ to ‘+3’, and five incremental stops in-between. Your camera is set to ‘0’ by default.
Let’s say you photograph a scene using spot metering while using aperture priority. You focus and meter on a subjects face.
Then you realize that the background could do with a little more light. In this case, set the exposure value to +1, +2 or+3.
These settings add one, two or three more stops of light in the scene. It does this while allowing you to keep your aperture, depth of field, shutter speed and ISO.
Adding or taking away a stop of light or two is essential to fix bad photos.
For more information on this topic, read our What Is Exposure Compensation and When to Use It article.
A music photography shot of a singer and guitarist performing onstage in low light - how to fix bad photographs

5. Change Your Perspective for More Varied Pictures

Many photographers never think about their perspective when they capture a scene. They hold the camera out in front of them, at eye level and snap away.
We all see the world this way and it isn’t particularly interesting.
There are many scenes that we see all the time, day in and day out. These scenes need more interest, and changing our perspective is just one way we can do this.
Doing so allows people to see common scenes in a new light.
Get on the ground and give us a worms’ eye view. Or get above and shoot down, showing a bird’s eye view.
Showing an environment in a different way helps fix bad photos. Be creative and try out different perspectives.
For a more in-depth idea, we have the What Is Perspective in Photography and How Should You Use It article for your use.

A black and white street image by Craig Hull - how to fix bad photos
Craig Hull Photography –

4. Use Metering Modes to Capture the Best Light

The settings you choose to shoot with, need to reflect your scene and what your subjects are doing.
Trying to photograph in a low light setting with a low ISO and a slow shutter is going to require a tripod to stop camera shake.
Similarly, photographing a moving sports car with aperture priority is going to result in blurry, unfocused images.
To help you fix bad photos, make sure you understand what each camera mode is for and what it does.
Use aperture priority when you are faced with subjects that don’t move. Shutter speed priority will allow you to choose the shutter speed, where the camera will set the aperture accordingly.
Metering modes are also important in capturing the best light for your scene or subject. Using the right modes will ensure great photos and will save valuable time shooting and editing.
For more help in-camera modes, read our Everything You Need to Know About Shooting Modes article.
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3. How to Fix Blurry Images

We all do it, and some of us might not understand how it is possible to get home and see a bunch of blurry images.
Our shoot from earlier on in the day might be ruined, but it might provide you with knowledge ensuring you never suffer through it again.
There are many reasons why your images might be blurry. Here are a few of them:

  • Your shutter speed is too slow. Generally speaking, your shutter speed should be equal to or above the focal length of the lens you are using. If you have an 85 mm prime lens, then you’ll need to use anything about 1/60th of a second. With a tripod and shutter release cable, you can use any shutter speed.
  • You didn’t focus properly. Wide apertures can be difficult to use. An aperture of f/1.4 provides beautiful bokeh, but it is difficult to use due to the slither of a depth of field. Your focal area is going to be in mm, which is a struggle to use, especially in low light areas or with moving subjects. Open the aperture and give your subject a larger depth of field to work with.
  • You need to calibrate your lens. Focusing problems should show you a few blurry images. If every one of your images is blurry, then you might need to calibrate your lens. No matter which lens you buy, it might not be perfectly calibrated to your camera model. Read our Lens Calibration article for more information.
  • Your lens and camera might have autofocus problems. If you use your zoom or prime lenses all the time, they might suffer from autofocus problems. This problem might occur across the front or back focus. It is easy to correct, and our How Do I Test My Camera For Autofocus Issues? will help.

So, to recap. Blurry images might be down to using the wrong settings or a failure from your equipment. Going through the above points will help you fix bad photos.
A blurry photo of stings of lights hanging from a ceiling - fix bad photos tips

2. Avoid Excessive Post-Processing for a Natural Look

High Dynamic Range (HDR) images are generally bad. this is because they are way over processed, giving the scenes a very surreal and noticeable look.
If your style demands over-processing, that’s fine.
A painter knows that to stop applying paint is just as important as when to start. It is the same for photographers.
Post-processing software, such as Lightroom, can be important in adjusting a few settings.
However, by using too much clarity, saturation or vibrancy can cause an adverse effect on your images. you want people to look at your work and go ‘WOW!’ and not ‘oh, wow’.
For help on how to edit your images correctly, see our 10 Awesome Photo Editing Tips for a Faster Workflow. this should help fix bad photos.
A photo of rusty broken down cars in a junkyard - fix bad photography

1. Choose Lighting Conditions to Reflect the Mood of Your Image

Lighting is the most important area in photography to get right. Without effective light, your images will be dull and flat.
The lighting you will use will depend on your scene, what light is available and the style you want to achieve. Some photographers prefer natural light and shoot outdoors or near windows.
Others prefer to control the light and shoot with flash units, strobes or studio equipment. Whatever you use, ensure the light isn’t too strong that it blows out your highlights.
The light needs to be strong enough, otherwise, you’ll find your image is underexposed. Effective lighting can make or break an image.
The biggest point here is that lighting can be creative and harnessed in so many ways.
Using a correct metering mode will help, just as shooting at the right time of day. For more help, see our metering modes article and The Complete Guide to Lighting.
Focusing on lighting will help fix bad photos, and make them look great.
A wedding photography shot of the newlywed couple cutting the cake in low light with a spotlight shining above them - how to fix bad photos

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