Since the launch of my Why You Need a Beautiful Blog post, my Beautiful Blog series has been a success, helping many bloggers. This makes me happy… In this week’s installment, I will share with you my six favorite blog photo editing tools.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
I am a very visual person, so you will find that this tutorial is full of photos. I hope you can follow along.
I have used Photoshop for this as it gives me the most control over my images. Picmonkey is an online tool that is popular among bloggers as well, although its structure and usability is very differently. This tutorial should help you regardless of which program you use.
Before the Transformation:
These are three photos we will be working with. Each of these presents various issues. While some of the tools are more obvious, I will explain how they should be used. All of these photos were taken following my tips on how to take better blog photos as much as circumstances allowed. The above tips enabled some of these tools to work better.
Here are three photos with various problems:
Photo #1 Problems: too dark, shadows on the wall
Photo #2 Problems: too dark, coloring is off, focus is off. Shadows and seams from between individual papers show.
Photo #3 Problems: White balance was a challenge. On one angle it’s too red, on the other too blue. Shadows and glares on the jar. And of course, it’s too dark.
I will be offering the tools in the sequence that you would use them.
Blog Photo Editing Tool #1: Crop.
While this is probably the most common photo editing tool, you may not realize how easily this can fix a problem.
In the case of photo #2, focus is supposed to be on the main craft tools needed. You can see that that area is sharp, as that’s where my camera did focus. However, too much of the foreground takes over the picture, making the whole thing look blurry and out of focus. Cropping off a bit from the edges moves the focal point more to the center, and fixes that issue.
Access the crop tool in the left sidebar – in your “toolbox”. Fix it selecting the crop tool, and moving your crop marks in to the desired point.
The result: focus is closer to the right spot.
Blog Photo Editing Tool #2: Brightness and Contrast
Almost every photo I take is too dark. This is because I don’t have access to natural light, usually. I fix this by adjusting the brightness and contrast.
Access the brightness and contrast tool in the main menu bar. Slide over the sliders until you are satisfied. You can select and unselect the “preview” checkbox to see the impact.
You can see the huge transformation. This is what often turns my images from unusable to usable. Changing your brightness and contrast alone can have the biggest impact on your Pinterest traffic!
And the result on image #3:
While image #1 has been made practically usable as is, we still have issues with the color discrepancies and too many shadows in image #3, which we will solve soon.
Blog Photo Editing Tool #3: Levels.
In the case of photo #2, where the coloring is “off” I use levels to fix things up. This is common when photographing indoors, as lights tend to cast a colored glow, coming out too blue or too yellow. Setting white balance helps, but levels can take it to the next step.
Access the “levels” window in the main menu bar. Choose the white eyedropper, and click on any area in the photo that should be true white. It may take some experimentation to geth this right. Photographing your images on a white background is a huge help when fixing levels.
The result on image #2:
The image is brighter, with truer, more vivid colors. I did not use this on image #3 as half the image was too blue and half too yellow. (This was a result of two different light sources during photography).
Blog Photo Editing Tool #4: The Dodge Tool.
While image #1 is nearly usable at this point, it still has some extra shadows that can be cleaned. The print on the chair is also slightly stronger than I’d like it to be. Images #2 and 3 definitely have too many shadows, plus some seams that show.
Access the dodge tool in the toolbox on the left. You can change your settings to suit your needs below the menu bar. I like to use a large, soft brush. I usually need my range to be “midtones” and in this case I started with an exposure of “11”. adjust these settings according to your needs. Be careful, as overdoing the dodge tool can affect the quality of your image, making it grainy, and less sharp.
This tool works in a manner similar to a paintbrush. “Paint” over your problem areas gradually until they disappear. Beware of image edges.
The results on photo #1 were minimal, but still helped me improve it a little:
The results on photo #2 were what made it into my final image. This is however, a good example of “overediting”. You can see that I accidentally did too much, blurring image edges :
A great way around this risk is to copy your image layer before editing. I did not do this, so I let it go in this case, as the focus area is still sharp, and it’s not my main “cover” image.
The results on image #3 are very powerful as well:
It got rid of most of the color discrepancies, and allowed me to focus more on the center and top, which is the focus of that step of the tutorial (as opposed to the bottom, which I gently blurred). It helped me get rid of most of the harsh shadows, and brightened up my overall image.
Blog Photo Editing Tool #5: Patch Tool.
The next two tools focus on my favorite “touch up” tools. While many will prefer to use the clone stamp tool, I prefer these two as i have more control of the results.
As you can see, when I fixed my brightness and contrast, the glare on the jars became much stronger. I decided that I’d like to remove it completely. In addition, you can see that there is still a bit of shadow from the seam, close to the jars. Using the dodge tool there would fade the edges, making it difficult.
You can access the patch tool in the left toolbar. Long press on any of the shown tools if you do not see the patch tool and it will bring up your options. (Defaut it the spot healing tool, which I will discuss next).
Select the problem area using the patch tool. You can also use the regular selection options, and feather for a more natural result. Drag it to an area that should be similar to that spot, and let go. Photoshop will average the result for a seamless effect. It may take some tries to get it perfect, and you may need the next tool to touch up the results:
Blog Photo Editing Tool #5: Spot Healing Tool.
This tool is one of my favorites. It is a genius tool that is so useful – I’m always pulling it up! It goes beyond removing beauty marks, or crumbs on your surface that you did not notice. I use this to touch up my patch tool results, in place of the patch tool for smaller areas (such as the bottom glare) and for bits of shadow that are surrounded by large areas of solid white (or color).
You simply select the tool, in the same spot you’d find the patch tool, and click where the issue is. Photoshop figures out what you want there…
And, the final result on image #3 (one of the most difficult scenarios I’ve encountered) are far more presentable. Even as a main image, it could do well on Pinterest:
The Effect of these Blog Photo Editing Tool:
Of course, here is a recap of before and after photos so you can see just what I’ve done:
Image #1: Brightness + Contrast, Dodge
Image #2: Crop, Levels, Dodge
Image #3: Brightness + Contrast, Dodge, Patch, Spot healing
I hope this has helped you! Feel free to comment below with any questions you might have. And stay tuned for next week, as I will begin to discuss actually branding and designing your blog! You can catch up on the entire series right over here, and check back in Fridays for new posts!
And, of course, spread the love by pinning the image below to share it with your blogging buddies!
Next in the series:
All about branding. What is branding? Why you should brand your blog: