How To Fix Your Nature Photos

Did you ever take a picture of an animal or a plant, only to get home and find out that it turned out to be too dark? You were so disappointed because you really thought you did a good job, and you had been trying for so long. Well, all is not lost! Diane, a professional photographer from The Shutterbug Eye is here to help you learn how to fix it! Keep reading to find out how!

The photo above is of a blue jay that I took while out on one of my many nature hikes. I love taking pictures of any animals I encounter. The only problem is that sometimes my pictures don't come out the way I wanted. Blue jays are a particular problem for me. I never seem to be able to get them right. Sometimes a little bit of editing might help out though.

I demonstrated my problem on my own blog a little while back, and Diane generously offered to edit it for me so it would look more like I intended. She was also nice enough to share with everyone the trick she used to make my blue jay look so good. So let's see how she did it:

I did the following actions in Photoshop CS4:

- Click on layers on the top menu

- Select duplicate layer (this makes a copy of your image that you can edit, instead of editing the original.  You do not loose image data/quality with editing this way)

- Select Image on the top menu and click "shadows/highlights"

- In "shadows/highlights" you can lighten shadows or darken highlights or both.  Play around till it looks right.  I did some of both on this photos.

- Click Filter - select noise then "reduce noise"  I just ran it at the default.  There is better noise reduction software out there but I don't have it.

- Now that the image looks how I want I clicked on layers again and way at the bottom clicked on "flatten image".  Now it's one layer, one image again with the edited layer being the one I saved.

That's it.

You can do this yourself in Photoshop, if you have it. Or you can use these instructions with any other good photo editing program of your choice, such as Paint Shop Pro. The directions wouldn't be exactly the same, but there are equivalent tools and techniques in most other photo editing programs.

Diane took this picture even further, to make it look even better. It's a little more advanced, so don't worry if this is harder to understand.:

Then I "saved as" and added a sky ttv layer to make the sky more blue and add a border for interest.  I am no an expert at layers and this is a "free use" layer from a flickr group I'm in.  I like using it when I want the sky bluer.   It's pretty easy to do but not quite as basic.  I think the first one is good for an instructional article right now. ;-)

You can do all of this yourself now that you have the directions from Diane. I followed her directions in two different programs, and I was able to accomplish my own versions of the same thing. She really did a good job with this. And if you'd like to see these pictures more clearly, you can click on any one of them to expand them to full size.

Of course, Diane also does her own work as well. These instructions are really here just to get you started, but if you want to see what someone like Diane can really do, go check out her websites. She has some excellent work there. Those of you who know her understand how good she is. Those of you who don't, go do yourself a favor and check out her work.

You can see more of Diane's work on her website: The Shutterbug Eye
This is her blog, where I am a frequent visitor: My World Through Photography
And here is her Etsy store, where you can browse some of her best work, and maybe even make a purchase: The Shutterbug Eye on Etsy


  1. Diane knows her stuff that's for sure. I do a little bit of editing to almost all of my pictures.

  2. Thanks! I can give more step by step in how exactly I added the sky ttv if there is interest. Just let me know. :-)

  3. The fun you can have using photoshop is unlimited!! But for those who cant afford it, using Google's Picasa is a GREAT alternative and it's FREE! :) It has adjustments for lighting that work awesome. I also like the quick uploading you can pair with Picasa to an online web album. Then you can do it all in one swoop: edit, upload, post to blog.

  4. Oh, one more thing I love to use which makes pictures pop when you go from your computer to the web is the sharpen feature. It makes a big difference in appearance and clarity of pictures on the web.

  5. wow...your photo looks great...I may have to give this a try as quite a lot of my photos look like your

  6. Well, Diane, I do believe the interest is here. Can't wait to see your next lesson.

  7. It is amazing what you can do to improve your pictures. Thanks!

  8. Great tips! Thanks I will try this. I can always use advice in this area.

  9. I think of how many times I have discarded a pic.I am hesitant to use software even though I have it. Always shoot lots and still have a few dudes.I get a lot of Jays, have a pair nesting in my front yard, but they pose longer and closer near food.I will try this out on a few photos and see what happens.

  10. Happens to me all the time. I just bought a new camera though so I'll have to re-learn all the editing software.


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