Welcome back to another guide to better photos here at AT. In our past guides, we have looked at techniques that can be applied to take better pictures. In this guide, we will be focusing on ways to improve the photos that you have with the use of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. If you don’t already have one of these programs, and you are at all serious about photography, you should really consider checking them out. Photoshop Elements 3 is a reasonably-priced alternative to Photoshop CS that offers many of the same features.

The quality of a picture right out of the camera will vary depending on the camera that you are using and its internal processing settings. For example, consumer digicams tend to produce images with high contrast and sharpness while higher-end models tend to be more conservative. It is a common misconception that every image needs to be post-processed. Depending on your camera’s settings and partly on your photographic ability, you may find that some pictures will look great right out of the camera. In such a case, there is no need to feel bad for not post-processing your images. However, it is far more likely that when you look through your photos you will see some that need straightening, lightening, higher saturation, red-eye reduction, sharpening, etc. This guide is designed to help you post-process your images with simple steps to produce impressive results. Feel free to work with our samples as we go through this guide. It will help you get a better idea of how each process is applied.

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  • Bobby Peru - Thursday, June 23, 2005 - link

    Would love it if you'd describe batch processing of photos. With Photoshop or, I think the simplest way is running ImageMagick on Linux or Windows Cygwin. You can just whack a whole folder of 100 photos with one simple command line. The underlying DSP algorithms are basically identical to Photoshops's.
  • buttwhacker - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    good article, very informative and i hope u can add to this article.
  • THEJUICE - Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - link

    Useful article and enjoy the series. Thanks.
  • vladik007 - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    wouldnt it be better just using selection , feather , and adjusting color channels insidethat selection ?

    red is usually 100% , so you take it down to 5- 10 % , green and blue are best at 50 % in red channel...

    never really liked burn tool for red eye ...
  • stephencaston - Monday, March 21, 2005 - link


    I assure you the original image was not doctored. That would defeat the purpose of post-processing ;-) We've updated the page to include a link to the original file. To get the brush to the right size, use the "[" and "]" keys to increase and decrease the brush size. In our example, the Color Replacement Tool is actually desaturating whatever you paint. So, if you can't get the brush to the exact size, it is best to select a smaller brush and paint around inside the pupil until the red-eye is gone. Good luck!
  • E Scott Channell - Monday, March 21, 2005 - link

    I'm curious how the red-eye sample photograph was obtained... the red-eye region appeared to match the paint-brush shape perfectly... Sometimes getting good results takes a wee bit of fiddling so if this was a doctored "good photo" used for illustration it would provide unreasonable expectations as to what a "quick fix" can achieve.

    Also, if this is a doctored photo the article should make mention of that.
  • jeffbui - Sunday, March 20, 2005 - link

    Good article as well. An amateur has to start somewhere.
  • Gatak - Sunday, March 20, 2005 - link

    Actually. Have you tried to do basic stuff like levels, curves and channel mixer with Gimp? The results are inferior to that of Photoshop, especially when you use 16bit/channel mode.

    AnandTech, you should do a article where you compare photoediting steps between Photoshop and Gimp.
  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, March 20, 2005 - link

    Nice article if you use Photoshop [Elements]. Did Adobe sponsor this article, Stephen?

    Everything you told people how to do with Photoshop can be done just as easily with Paintshop Pro, the full version of which costs only slightly more than Photoshop Elements, but isn't a cut down version like Elements is. Unless it came free with the camera, or a scanner, you'd have to be crazy to go the Photoshop route just for tweaking your pictures when much cheaper and equally good options are available.

    Even splashing out for Paintshop Pro is probably unnecessary for the vast majority of people who will find everything they need available in the freeware image program 'The Gimp'. It might have been better to assume people were using The Gimp rather than Photoshop, as everyone can download The Gimp free of charge (legally).
  • unhaiduc - Sunday, March 20, 2005 - link

    great article, i read every one of your photo tutorials and loved every bit of it!

    cant wait for the next one :)

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