Using Photoshop to Improve Your Photos

Today, I bring you expert photographer Molly O’Bryon-Welpott from MollysMuses.  She is going to offer up some advise on how to use Photoshop to improve your personal, business, and blog photos.

I was honored when Angela asked me to do a guest post on her blog.  Her idea seemed simple enough…

“I thought you could pick a few photos already posted on my blog that could be made better through Photoshop.”

This sounds easy and was something I was excited to do, but, Angela’s images do not need that much work.  I chose a personal photograph and an image from Angela’s work to edit.

One of the pictures was a candid of Monet in the swimming pool.

Here is the picture before:

using photoshop to improve your photos

And here is the picture after using photoshop:

using photoshop to improve your photosSteps I took in Photoshop, to improve this photo:

To begin with, I decided to crop this image. Because all of Monet’s right hand was not showing, I decided to crop it in a slightly abstract way, so it looks intentional with the close up of her other hand and the garden hose.

The next thing I chose to do was to edit the color balance of the image. This image has an overall blue cast to it. This is for 2 reasons, one the background is almost all blue, but also the water is reflecting blue onto Monet’s skin. So we can color correct that with color balance in Photoshop.

I simply dialed out some of the cyan out, which adds red and dialed out some of the blue by adding some yellow, which will give a normal skin tone. If you notice the background of the pool is still blue, as it should be.

Next below her eyes there are small shadows, I just lightly used the “dodge tool.” I like to work with it set large enough to cover the spot with one click so that it does not appear striped or raccoon like, just a little brightener.

Next I am choosing to clean up a little of the areas on the skin, particularly the blade of grass below the neck. Grass in an action shot is not a bad thing, but because we are going for a simple composition here with focus on the baby and the water, it can be a distraction.

In Photoshop I select the Healing Brush set at about 31 and I lightly go over it; and the grass piece is gone. You can use this time to make your brush slightly smaller and clean up any other tiny distractions you would like to get rid of.  Finally, I opened my brighten and contrast option. I slightly brightened the image and added a pop of contrast.


The next image I chose is a close up from Angela’s multi-media work.  I chose the image of the blue couch because it does not pop as much as the other  images on her blog. It feels slightly flat and doesn’t do her work justice.

Here is the picture before:

using photoshop to improve your photosAnd here is the picture after using photoshop:

using photoshop to improve your photosWith textiles and fibers it’s really important for all of the handwork to show; this image is in need of some contrast.

Steps I took in Photoshop, to improve this photo:

First I simply went adjust image and set this one to auto-level. It is a bit brighter already, Now I will go back into the brightening and contrast option. I went to a 40 on contrast. Keep in mind I am focusing on trying to show the detail in the stitching. I don’t know the exact color and that will vary from monitor to monitor. There is a dark shadow at the bottom. So I will go in and use my dodge tool again. As I mentioned in the first image, I like to make my brush size big enough when using this tool that I don’t need to go back and forth multiple times, because I want it to be even. I don’t want to dodge too much because it will distort the image. And finally we will use out healing tool again for minor clean up, for 2 loose threads.


It was much harder for me to narrow down the 2 images I like best on the blog. WHY? Because I love quilts and color and there are so many beautifully done images on this blog.

Here are the two I decided on –I know you will enjoy them as well:

The personal image I love the most on Angela’s blog is one I remember her posting in a blogpost titled, She Had me Before Hello.  This is a wonderful photo of Angela and Monet. It has everything working for it. The day is beautiful, the colors are gorgeous and my favorite part if the complete joy and emotion all captured forever in that frame. The background shows me that these people are interesting, I want to know more when I look at the image. Where are they? What are they doing. And at the same time the subject fill the frame so that they are the main focus and nothing is taken away from the moment that they are sharing. Looks like a magical day!

"Quilting 101" quilt-along in 2011The image of Angela’s work that I chose is actually from her newest post, Part 2 of the Quilt-Along.  The lighting in this particular image is perfect. The paper with the pattern on it is perfectly exposed I can even see the details of the graph paper in the background. I think this must be natural light and it looks great. I also love the variety of color (which we would expect from a professional quilter). But also the composition of this image has triangles to my right which leads my eye to look at all of the fabric choices, and yet the pincushion grounds my eye from getting lost in the white space of the paper. Very nice job Angela.


Wow, Molly, thanks so much.  These tips are very helpful as I continue to play and edit my photos in Photoshop.  I appreciate your expert advise.

Would you like Molly, an expert photographer, to guest post on your blog?  Leave a comment below, with any questions you have for Molly.  It can be in regards to this post or a guest post you would like her to do on your blog.

MollysMuses Molly's Muses Fine ART Photography Prints-Vintage

Molly can be found online through her awesome etsy shop and blog.  You can also follow her on facebook and twitter as well.
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