Quick Fix for Photos


Avoid objects in the background that appear to come out of people’s heads. This can be easy to fix if you find you have a merger in your image.

Select the spot healing brush. Choose a soft brush size that is slightly larger than the merger object. Drag the cursor over the object to be removed. 

merger after


Underexposed images are often dark and lack sufficient light in order to see details of an image. Again, you can used the Exposure adjustment layer if you have a good understanding of controlling the settings. If you are a novice, try this method first. It’s very user-friendly.


  1. Open the photo that appears too dark. Underexposed
  2. Copy the background layer. Press Ctrl J (Layer 1)
  3. Change the blending mode for Layer 1 from Normal to Screen. This lightens your entire photo.
  4. You can repeat with a duplicate of Layer 1 again to get the right exposure. If the newest layer seems like too much then you can lessen the effect by adjusting the layer opacity.

underexposed before and after


Overexposed images look too bright because too much light was used. Details and contrast are often lost when this mistake happens. There are several ways to adjust exposure. In fact, Photoshop has an exposure adjustment layer. I have rookies start with this method because it provides instant results for a novice. It takes out the guessing game of settings.

over exposed 1

  1. Open the photo that is overexposed.
  2. Make a copy of the layer by pressing Ctrl J. (Layer 1)
  3. Change the blending mode of Layer 1 from Normal to Multiply. This brings back more of the details that the flash blew out.
  4. If your image is still too light you may need to make another copy with the same blending mode.

over exposed before and after

Auto Adjust Your Photos

CTRL + L =Auto Adjust Levels This one is DESTRUCTIVE but quick. Make a copy of the layer first (CTRL J)

auto levels1

OTHER METHOD: Layers>New Adjustment Layer>Levels

This one is NON-DESTRUCTIVE. It takes more time, but you still have your original image. You can also go back and make changes to the settings.

levels before and after

Straighten Crooked Photos

Horizon lines should always be level. Do not take an “artistic” or lazy approach to photography when putting photos in the yearbook.

straighten 1

1.Select the file.

2.Select Crop.

3.Select the Straighten feature at the top of the options bar.

4.Check Content Aware (turned on)

5.Click and drag a line across the horizon.

6.Photoshop will straighten the photo and fill in the corners if necessary.

straighten 2.jpg

When Content Aware is selected, Photoshop tries to fit more of the photo in the crop zone. The blue areas are missing parts of the photo that Photoshop will try to fix.


Notice that Photoshop did a pretty decent job filling in the missing areas, but it created a mystery leg in the bottom corner. The lower right corner is also slightly off as well. Boo!

straighten 4

Notice that a large, important part of this image is cut out because without Content Aware, Photoshop cannot create missing parts. So you lose a large portion of your original image.

Perspective Crop

Sometimes you cannot get a photo from a straight vantage point. You may be able to save the photo by using the perspective crop tool. Note: When doing this with photos of people it may distort the image.

1.Open photo.

2.Find Perspective Crop button (hiding in the crop drawer)

3.Click on each corner of the subject image.  Then Press Enter.

Fixing Yellow Photos

Sometimes fluorescent lights and/or your camera settings alter the way your photos turn out.

Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Select the color that needs to be adjusted. RGB changes the entire photo.Start with adjusting the lightness. Then adjust hue and saturation. Moving the saturation to the left will make the image not as colorful. (Helps with white tones.)

color balance

color balance after

Backlit Photos

In this image the lighting is coming from behind the subjects. This puts them in a shadow and you cannot see much detail in this photo. Try to avoid backlit photos if possible. If you have no other options you can attempt this fix.


1. Duplicate the layer (ctrl J)

2.Image menu> Adjustments>Shadow/ Highlight.

3.Check Preview

4.You can usually leave the default settings alone but you can slightly adjust them if needed.

backlit 2.png

Note: This image would not be acceptable after the fix because of the amount of noise in the photo.

Getting Rid of Photobombers

Sometimes you cannot get rid of unwanted people or objects, but at certain times you can get rid of them in your photos.


1.Select the Clone Stamp. Choose a soft, round brush (slightly bigger than the object you are removing) so that your changes are subtle.

2.Hold down the ALT key and click on an area that you want to use to replace your subjects. This is defining your source. Release the mouse and ALT.

3.Hover your mouse over the subject. This will be your target. (When you hover your mouse over another area, a preview will appear of what will be “stamped” over the target. )

4.Click and drag your mouse over the subject. As you drag the mouse you will see a plus + that hovers over the source area. (The target will be replaced with your source. In order to make the image look realistic you may need to repeat the process several times. It’s ok to define multiple sources to make the image look realistic. If your source and target are too close you may find that you create more errors. Be patient.)

This takes a lot of skill and patience. Not everyone can do it at first. Use only with your teacher’s permission. You want to maintain the integrity of the photo.

Saving Your Files

When working with a file, save it as a psd (Layers) until you are satisfied. (teacher approval)

When finished with a file, save it as a jpg (Flat). If you use a JPEG file you can select the amount of compression that will occur (see Fig. 1). Selecting Maximum quality will be a larger file, but the image will not suffer much loss.


Note the examples on the next slide. Figure 2 on the left is a JPEG saved at Maximum quality. The file was not compressed very small. When the file was reopened only a slight quality difference was noticed. The photo on the right was saved as a JPEG at the Lowest quality. This means that the file was compressed to a very small file size. The degradation is noticeable in the pixel loss.

image quality






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