How to Improve Bad Photos

We’ve all done it – we’ve all had those moments where an exceptional photo opportunity comes our way, the sort of scene that makes us think immediately about our canvas print art gallery at home and how this moment in time will be the greatest piece of canvas art ever produced! And then, we botch it: The photo we take is simply no good. Blurry, grainy, poorly composed, or simply dull, it’s a painful reminder that sometimes everyone blows an opportunity. If it’s a photo we’ll never get the chance to take again, it can be a hard blow.


But it doesn’t mean all is lost. Even if you’re not a pro photographer and even if you have zero skills in Photoshop or a similar program, there are some very simple things you can try in the photo software of your choice that can instantly improve bad photos and missed opportunities.

From Canvas Miss to Canvas Art Trick 1: Go Pop

Okay, so you had a rare moment and you blew it, and the photo ended up with is blurry or grainy, and just doesn’t look great. You don’t have the knowledge to get into the weeds of de-blurring or sharpening and the default settings on filters don’t help. Your first trick is to toss subtlety aside and go for something bold and dramatic: Think those Warhol prints where a subject is repeated several times with bright, neon colours and all the details either erased or exaggerated. In other words, stop trying to save details that aren’t there and work with the limitations of your photo. Exaggerate the problems and bring excitement to them with colour. It’s a surprisingly effective technique that can find the drama of your photo when you thought you’d completely blown it.

From Canvas Miss to Canvas Art Trick 2: Go Moody

Another approach is to go the opposite direction: Black and white. Sometimes converting a photo to black and white (sometimes called grayscale) is enough to automatically bring drama and interest to an otherwise dull photo. Black and white instantly brings mood, and it can help obscure deficiencies in a photo like graininess and blur, because these actually get accentuated by the lack of colour.


If you have moderate skills in Photoshop or other programs, you can also try this slightly advanced trick: Duplicate the layer, turn the top layer to black and white, and then cut out a small portion of the top layer to reveal the colour below. That pop of colour in a black and white photo might be all you need to turn that failed photo into a triumph.

From Canvas Miss to Canvas Art Trick 3: Go Panoramic

So you hiked all the way to some amazing spot in nature, took a bunch of photos … and they are all lifeless and dull. Just pictures of stuff, without any sense of the scale or grandeur of the locale. You were all set to make them into amazing canvas wall art and now they’re basically just vacation photos you want to disown.

You have one trick left: Make a panorama. Find three or more shots that are of the same general direction that can be the left, centre, and right of a shot and paste them into Photoshop or GiMP, using a digital canvas large enough for all of them to sit side by side. Play with each layer so they line up – even if you have to nudge them up and down so there isn’t a smooth line it can still look really cool, or you can crop out the uneven edges later.

Sometimes this simple trick gives you a fantastic photo with a lot of drama, and the slight inconsistencies of the three photos can actually add depth and interest to the overall photo.

So next time you suffer a complete Fail as a photographer, don’t sweat it! Just use some of these techniques and make something out of nothing. When you’re done fixing up your photos, let’s get started turning them into something amazing!