Fixing a Problem Photo

  1. Identify the photos biggest problem and do it first. A good place to start is by getting rid of dust spots or marks on the image.
  2. Work with multiple layers and keep the original untouched and consider using Window> New View to see details in a magnified version with another view of the overall picture. (A new view is simply a screen copy of the file and does not increase document size).
  3. You may want to experiment by starting with step 4 or start at step 8. It all depends on the image and what is needed.
  4. First duplicate the background layer then Filter> Dust and Scratches to get rid of the flaws.
    - Start with the radius and Threshold at 0.
    - Move radius to the point where the spots disappear – grain will also soften.
    - Then move Threshold until the spots appear again and then move the slider back again until the spots are gone.
    - Click OK.
  5. Add a Layer Mask (choose Layer > Add Layer Mask) to hide the new layer and the filter effects and paint away the spots on the face with a soft brush, such as the Airbrush tool. Be sure your foreground and background colors are set to black and white. Press the letter D to make 'em b&w. Press X to switch 'em back and forth. Remember that black conceals and white reveals when you're painting with the Layer Mask. This is a very powerful function. You'll do well to learn this. See also step 13.
  6. For the background area, first lasso around the subject ( such as a head), choose a 4 pixels Feather to soften the edges and Invert the selection. Then choose Alt > Delete to fill the selection mask.
  7. Deselect and finish the touch up the image.
  8. To further retouch the image with the Clone tool (aka: Rubber Stamp tool) it is best to work on another layer. Create a New Layer. Choose Layer > New Layer. Click on the Clone Staamp tool.
  9. Before you use the Clone Stamp tool make sure that Use All Layers is checked in the Options bar. Use a low Opacity and small soft brush to fix blemishes. See more Clone Stamp troubleshooting.
  10. Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels to correct contrast and remove the color cast. Use the Gray eyedropper to set the middle gray point in the background area.
  11. If the image is overexposed choose the same as above but close it right away without doing anything (click OK) then in the Layers palette change the Blending Mode from Normal to Multiply. If you want to intensify the effect then duplicate the Adjustment layer by dragging the Levels layer to the new layer icon at the bottom of the palette. You can also drag the Opacity slider in the Layers palette to lower the intensity. If the image is underexposed, follow the same principle as above but change the Blending Mode to Screen.
  12. For color adjustment or tweaking, choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance and move the sliders until the color looks good. (To easily learn how color affects images, experiment with Image > Adjustments > Variations. This function is not the most precise but it will give you a nice visual how color interacts. Play with it!
  13. Add a Layer Mask where you want to mask out effects. (see step 5). Remember that a layer mask will also work on Adjustment Layers to hide color and tonal adjustments where you don't want it affected in the image. Play with the opacity in the brush while painting to decrease and not erase intensity.