Tutorial Shares How to Turn an ‘OK’ Photo Into a Great Photo in Post

No matter how long you’ve been shooting or what level you’re at in your photography endeavors, there will always be those moments where you walk away from a shoot unsatisfied with how some of the images turned out. It happens to the best of us.

Thankfully, photographer and retoucher Glyn Dewis has created a great tutorial that shows you how to turn an OK — or even bad — shot into an awesome one with the help of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

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The video above isn’t a short watch, coming in at 33 minutes long, but it’s full of useful information for those times when you need some post-production help after a shoot didn’t go as planned. In it, Dewis takes a test shot he had already made up his mind to discard and shows you how he goes about salvaging it.

Of course, nothing beats getting it right in camera, something Dewis acknowledges in the accompanying blog post when he says, “You can’t and never will beat getting the best possible file in camera.” But he goes on to say that it’s also “a lot of fun playing” with an image, and having this knowledge stored away certainly can’t hurt.

So check out Dewis’ blog post and give the tutorial a watch once you get the chance; and once you do, let us know what part(s) you found most useful for saving a photo that just didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to.

(via Fstoppers)

  • junyo

    “I can fix it in post”, much like fear, is the path to the dark side.

    He started out with a poorly exposed picture. But it was of a reasonably attractive subject, in focus, and with decent composition. He wasn’t polishing a turd.

    And we’ve all had to salvage an image. I personaly had a shoot of of Adriana Lima and Bootsie Collins, riding a Siberian tiger, down Bushwick Ave at 3AM, come out completely black (It happened, I saw it, I swear. Please believe me.) So knowing how to is a really important tool in a photographers skillset.

    But you just know that a lot of people saw that and said, “Awesome I don’t need lights!” or “Now I can Photoshop those pictures I took with the lens cap on!” or “Meter, smeter. I expose how I want!”

  • Ric Ettinger

    bad news. it’s still a bad photo

  • Thomas Schlorke

    that´s not what it´s about. save us your opinion.

  • Matt

    Just needs some exposure, the color light sources does nothing for me and actually a little negative. I see more value in croping LOL.

  • dimitrisservis

    Good and comprehensive demonstration of tools. I doubt the purpose is to use all of them together (I would not) nor to fix the *particular* image.

  • kodiak xyza

    I suggest the title should be:
    “Tutorial Shares How to Turn THIS ‘OK’ Photo Into a NICE Photo in Post”

    otherwise, it is quite misleading this “method” can rescue any photo. nice if articles are a bit more accurate for their readers.

  • kodiak xyza

    there is not much wrong with saying “I can fix it in post” if the photographer knows what is wrong with the current one, and how the photo is not compromised. a few common mistakes are easily fixed, and digital provides that ability, so then let’s use it. (this is a bit like lenses being design with geometric correction in software rather than with more elements.)

    chimping is also good, at least to glance at the histogram.

  • Tyler Magee

    Its a good image who cares how did a lot in post?

  • Alan Klughammer

    changing exposure has been available since the film days. I once had the wrong film in the camera for a portrait shoot so the film ended up overexposed by two stops, then over developed. The resulting neg was very tough to print, but it did have some really nice high key properties.
    With digital, if your exposure is off on a really good shot, you can salvage a lot. If your focus is off, or your composition is really bad, or many other things, no amount of post will fix it.

  • OtterMatt

    Shooting street photos in a nearby park, I saw an adorable couple completely unaware of my existence. I shot a few quick-fire, and left to avoid intruding, and I felt the bottom drop out when I looked down at the file to see it was horribly underexposed in camera.
    Took it home, and it actually turned out to be a fantastic photo with a little love, and really the only good photo of the day, overall. Never give up on a photo out of reflex just because you see one big flaw.

  • kewpie

    Title should be how to restore a failed shot or something. It seems like they’re implying you can fix any shot even however bad the composition with the title lol

  • analogworm

    Also, some things are easier fixed in post. For instance i visited a very successful interior/lifestyle photographer. She created the interiors in her studio. Instead of building the interior to perfection, she just fixed the rough patches in Photoshop, it saved her time.. and thus made her more effective.

    Nevertheless, a crappy shot photo, will always be a crappy shot photo..

  • Bill

    Very poor tutorial

  • sadsa

    and he got manboobs. Poor guy

  • Zamfirescu Vladimir-Alexandru

    I’ve actually experiment with this, just to see how much tolerance or rather leeway I can get from my RAW files. On a 500D, with that amount of overexposure (just by eyeballing it), I have no fear about salvaging it, without worrying too much about shadow noise from bumping the exposure up about 1 stop or 1 stop and 1/3.

    I’ve actually managed to salvage pictures even more underexposed than this – it wasn’t bang-on, but I got a pleasing sort of ghost-like effect without too much fiddling. While it wasn’t what I had in mind, it did open up some creative avenues, out of a throw-away.

    So at least something nice came out of a mistake, which is usually everything I hope for.

  • yopyop

    Dure, it’s Petapixel here. Everything here is hilarious, awesome, jaw-dropping, fascinating, great… get used to it ;-)