How to Fix a Poor Photo

Real Estate Agent with Retired CA BRE# 01048160

How to Fix a Poor Photo

Despite what some people believe, most photographers have lots and lots of poor photos resulting from incorrect settings, bad lighting or at least poor compensation for what is available.

So what happens when we shoot things that might seem useless to save. Depending on how important the photo is, there are ways to repair most of our mistakes. We are all acquainted with photo editing programs that can make adjustments to what we see.

Sometimes it takes more than one processing approach to accomplish what we want. And sometimes even with the best efforts, the photo is not salvageable. 

I would not consider myself as fully accomplished but I know just enough to make the best of the worst a little bit better. 

Below is a photo that I shot on an overcast late day and I made no compensations with the camera. I took this photo from a roof of a 5 story building in downtown San Diego. The photo was dark and missing so many details and in fact was a bit depressing. Certainly not what you would see on the worst weather day in San Diego. The actual view I had, although somewhat overcast, showed vibrant colors in the downtown buildings and the foliage lining the streets. 

Photo of Downtown San Diego Not Repaired

The photo below was corrected for shadows, straightened towers, brightened, detail enhancement and a few other minor adjustments for true color.

What you see here is what I actually saw without the camera. My rule is the photo should always look at least as good as the view, if not the camera settings are off and need to be adjusted. Therein lies the secret to being a good photographer. Knowing how to make the adjustments in the camera. But nothing works all the time so when needed, make the adjustments after the shoot.

Photo of Downtown San Diego Repiared


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Comments (14)

TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

 Good Sunday morning William. Photoshop programs can really fix a lot of poor photography. Make it a great Sunday.

Jul 04, 2015 08:23 PM
Ray Saenz
Exit Realty Laredo - Laredo, TX
Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor

Photoshop is the way to go , great article!

Jul 04, 2015 10:14 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning William. Wow, the difference between the original and the next is incredible. Well done.

Jul 04, 2015 10:36 PM
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

It really does make a huge difference when you know your camera and exactly how it works.

Jul 04, 2015 11:05 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

William, thanks for the tip! Need all the help I can get. Enjoy your day! 

Jul 04, 2015 11:24 PM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Great tips on fixing a photo.  There is a huge difference, and we appreciate your post on the subject.  Happy Sunday, A

Jul 05, 2015 02:26 AM
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi William - You're right that many photos can be saved, and many more improved. The best photo editors have a bit of a learning curve, but it's an investment that will pay off tremendously and is very much worth the effort.

Jul 05, 2015 05:12 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

William - Those are really good corrections!  What editing tool did you use?

Jul 05, 2015 11:50 AM
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Hi William Johnson ... I agree, the photo should look as good as the view. Up here in Seattle, we have many of those overcast days and your photos can look pretty flat and boring. 99% of the time my edits are to fix and bring out the details as I saw them. Sometimes its fun to throw in something special, but normally, the photo is one I took for a reason and I want to use it. That's a nice edit!

Jul 07, 2015 09:34 AM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Rene Fabre , Those cloudy days can be a real godsend with some brightening. 

Jul 07, 2015 10:04 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

William, it's like magic!  I use iPhoto, which is really, really basic.  I have to figure out Photoshop one of these days.

Jul 08, 2015 11:00 AM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Patricia Kennedy , I use Aperature. It is an advanced version of iPhoto. I am not sure they are selling it anymore, I had heard that they were not going to be supporting sometime soon. I love it , it is easier than Photoshop and does nearly everything Photoshop does in a lot more simple way. I invested nearly a grand in Photoshop amd Lightroom and barely ever use it.

Jul 08, 2015 11:53 AM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Myrl Jeffcoat , sorry I missed your question. I use Aperature for the Mac as my main tool. And I have some other specific editing tools that work with itas plug-ins.

Jul 08, 2015 11:55 AM