5 Photoshop Tricks That Will Ruin Your Photos

The invention of Photoshop is at once one of the best things that ever happened to photography and one of the worst things.  Now we have several options to edit photos, there are endless photo apps, Instagram being the most popular as well as browser based ones like Pixlr, Picmonkey, GIMP and the list goes on. No matter which editing application you use, the sentiment is still the same, editing can only do so much to make a bad photo good.

Don't get me wrong. I love Photoshop, it makes raw photos come to life. You can make colors more vivid, transform into black and white, add more contrast, make subtle changes, the possibilities are endless. Like plastic surgery, there is a point when a few tweaks can look freakish, and they make a bad photo look even worse.

Fake Depth of Field

fake depth of field

Do you love seeing a photo where the important part is in focus and the rest is blurred out? Me too! There is a way to do that using the correct settings on your camera, but if your image comes out and it's all in focus, try cropping. Don't fake a depth of field.

Faking depth of field is easy to do in Instagram with their blur tool. Use that sparingly, or not at all. You can get nice depth of field with an iPhone without filters. Just make sure your focal point and your background have a good amount of distance between them.

Crazy Contrast

crazycontrast

Who doesn't want their whites whiter and the blacks blacker? Having good contrast will enhance any photo, but it you're blowing out the details and making things look like a color photocopy then it's time to ease up on the contrast tool. Unless, you're doing a 90's David Carson deconstruction revival on your blog. Which, props to you!

Funny Filters

funnyfilters

All the filters in the world will not make a boring photo interesting. It doesn't matter how many Bokeh hearts you use. Filters used sparingly can set a mood to a photo, but there is a line where it becomes more about the filter than it does the photo. Spend the extra time setting up  a good shot rather than flipping through all the filters to get a good pic.

Extreme Sharpness

extreme sharpness

Your pics came out a little blurry. The remedy? Sharpen tool? Maybe, it can help in a pinch to tighten up the pixels, used VERY sparingly. But it's better to go out and keep taking photos until you get your focus down right, otherwise you'll get that photocopy effect.

Wacky Watermarks

wacky watermarks

Your photos get lost on Pinterest. People use your pics all over the place without giving you credit. The solution? WATERMARKS!

Oh no. First of all, if you really do not want your photos circulating the internet, don't put them online. There are ways to protect your images, but watermarks ruin the photo. If you must, consider doing a discrete watermark on the bottom.

What are some of your Photoshop pet peeves?

 

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64 Responses

  1. Michelle

    Pwhahahaha I just got a kick out this. I’m guilty in the past but the first one. I can’t stand one bit it makes my eye hurt and I feel like my glasses are dirty and then i’m straining to see the focus of the picture. Also I think filters are okay if you’re consistent with them and aren’t using them use to hide a crappy picture but also you can adjust the filter on some programs which I personally thinks makes a good picture. But most of all that WATERMARK! …I don’t bother watermarking. I might label the first picture since it will be seen on Bloglovin but it’s no watermark…if you’re trying to push pics with watermarks through TUmblr/Pinterest then good luck with that. People want clean pics…and you can always do a Google search to see if someone is using your images. It’s a pain but it looks better.

    Reply
  2. moiminnie

    Oh my god, ALL of these are my PS pet peeves! Especially over sharpened photos. With all those possibilities and different settings, I can see how it’s easy for some people to get carried away. The worst thing would probably be combining all of those haha!
    Less is always more, and it applies perfectly to editing your blog photos!
    xx,
    minnie @ http://moiminnie.blogspot.com

    Reply
  3. Shini

    Oh let’s not forget abusing the Liquify tool and creating a warp hole next to your waistline ;)!

    Reply
  4. Angel

    I think you mean “bokeh” instead of “boca?”

    I’d suggest an additional photo under “fake depth of field.” For example, manually using the blur tool to blur out the background in an outfit photo, rather than just the outer edges.

    One of my pet peeves is watermarking super-amateur “photography” with [NAME] PHOTOGRAPHY with haughty intent. Cockiness over nothing is trendy these days.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      Ohhhh…yeah, bokeh, boca, I hate that filter. Thanks for letting me know I had it wrong!

      Yeah, manually blurring out the background also is terrible!

      Reply
      • Angel

        Haha, no problem (it’s an unusual word after all)! I didn’t hop on instagram so I’m not familiar with the various filters. Fun article! Especially the sarcastic watermarked photo…

  5. Kenneth Jacobs

    But I love filters…On Instagram 😉 sometimes I do have an itch to add different filters on my pictures, but I do it only when it makes sense. If you’re going to use filters, you can always reduce the transparency so it’s not so harsh.

    Kenneth
    http://www.thefashionatefotobug.com

    Reply
  6. Clara

    I SO agree on all these points (I’ve been guilty of boosting the contrast a few levels too far, but I’m working on it I swear 😛 )

    It’s worth noting that fake depth of field doesn’t always look bad. The problem is when people blur out areas that wouldn’t be blurry in a real photo with actual depth of field – the lead photo is a good example of exactly what NOT to do. Actual depth of field happens because of your camera lens’s focal length – basically, your camera focuses on everything that’s, say, 5 feet away, and everything else goes out of focus. If you keep that in mind, you can produce a pretty decent fake blur effect.

    Reply
    • Jenn Staz

      Good point, Clara! I feel like some of these other Photoshop tricks can actually be OK if used wisely, especially depth of field.

      Reply
  7. Ashley Randall

    I can’t stand it when people over use the “clarify” adjustment in camera raw or in the aperture software to make skin tone even. It looks way too overdone and fake.
    I have to admit I can get lost in a sea of filters every now and then. However, I do agree, there is no amount of filtering that will make a boring photo good!
    Great idea for piece!!
    xo
    ashley
    http://www.thephotogramps.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. Glitter Riot

    I find that I keep making incremental changes and end up with a wacky photo because the it doesn’t seem so bad from one change to the next. To prevent that, I keep a copy of the original open as a reference. You quickly see if you are going off track.

    Reply
    • Chelsey

      That’s what I do too, or sometimes I’ll even sleep on it and look at the pictures the following day. Often times what I liked the day before looks like an edit-happy party later.

      Reply
    • Elly

      Yup, easy to do that, I tend to keep the history tab open so I can quickly ping back to various points and keep an eye on the progression!

      Reply
  9. Haylee

    Amen sister! You nailed it on the head. The watermark thing especially drives me crazy. I mean I can see why people do it but at the same time, come on guys! It just makes you look desperate is all.

    Reply
  10. Lauren

    My favs (and I use the word in sarcasm) are sharpening and watermark. Too sharp and the pic just hurts to look at! And I get why you want to do a watermark but it really takes away from the picture. Thanks for pointing these out!

    -Lauren @ Style of One’s Own

    Reply
  11. Chelsey

    I was definitely guilty of the watermark in the past. I think the amount of photo editing also depends on the platform you’re using. For example, Tumblr is much more accepting of highly edited photos (as long as they look good) so I tend to play with the contrast a bit more when using a photo on Tumblr to promote a post.

    Reply
  12. Rizuna Swon

    YEEEAH! heartifb.com, BITCHES!!

    I’m not using watermark. I swear it!! 😀
    I know it ruins everything. But I also hate it if people use my pics without credit. Any ideas what should I do?

    Reply
  13. Tamara Render

    I use Watermarks! It helps brand me [like a logo]. I created a fancy little graphic that I put at the end of my photos. I do find the straight across the picture watermarks off-putting though…

    Reply
  14. E-M

    I’m one of those who tends to over-use the filters! I remember how I used to make my pictures pretty much .. well, PINK! Haha, now I’ve definitely toned it down and I’m trying to play with pictures natural light, that’s it 🙂 Natural is good – that’s what we have to remember!

    xoxo

    http://www.zerxzastyle.blogspot.com

    Reply
  15. elisha

    I am guilt of watermark thing. And i just realized that it does kinda ruins my post even for me. 🙁

    Reply
  16. The Science of Happy

    After loving photo effects from the longest time (spurred more by Instagram), I became sick of them and now, only like to enhance photos slightly. People have become so obsessed with effects that they’ve distorted how the actual item really looks like in real life. I’ve deleted Instagram now, I can’t stand it. The photo effects are pretty but it makes the photo useless.

    http://thescienceofhappy.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply
  17. Petya

    I don’t have a very nice camera, so I use Photoshop a little bit for making the colors look better. I am guilty for using the blur tool too much. I know I have to stop, but I just can’t, haha.
    Great tips, I love them! Thanks.

    http://peysoul.blogspot.com

    Reply
  18. Sarah's Real Life

    Oh man, it is so easy to get sucked into overediting! I try to avoid it by going back and clicking through my edited photos to make sure they all “match” and I didn’t make one too bright/dark/warm/cool than the rest of them. Better yet, edit them and come back a couple hours later with fresh eyes. Sometimes there’s just a bad egg and you have to throw out rather than try to save it. Live and learn 🙂

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life

    Reply
  19. Chaucee from Streets and Stripes

    Ahh, the fake depth of field is one of the BIGGEST pet peeves. There’s no way to get a good blur except inside your camera settings, that’s it!

    Reply
  20. LoL

    “if you really do not want your photos circulating the internet, don’t put them online”

    Are you for real? YOU are the reason for ruining the NET. The same “logic” with “if you got nothing to hide blablabla kill your privacy”.

    Use the watermark as you like and feel comfortable with. It does NOT ruin the picture. It is not like the picture is going to be used for a billboard or is it?

    Reply
  21. LORRAINE GNAOTO

    yep ! Guilty of all these !!!
    Knew I should use Photoshop in the first place.
    I might go back and not correcting my pictures at all !!

    afrogenik.blogspot.com

    Reply
  22. Roubalita

    hmmmm, guess I have to plead guilty :/
    I use contrast to boost colours and exposing to brighten up dark photos. As for watermarks, I almost always add my blog’s name on the bottom left or right corner of them but don’t feel I’m ruining them (guilty and not regretful at all what could be worse?)
    Filters no, only when I need to add a certain feeling on my pictures like I did here http://prettynyummy.blogspot.gr/2013/04/wonderful-life.html to give them a nostalgia touch.
    Having read your article now I guess I’ll give it a second or even a third thought before adjusting my next photos.

    Reply
  23. Ana

    Great tips, we often try too harder to leave our pictures right but we end messing up everything. And watermarks are so ugly! The greatest pictures of the best streetwear photographers are not using them, why we should?

    Reply
  24. Seepz

    I would plead guilty to some of these myself. The pictures on my blog have however evolved with time as has the blog. Looking at all the blogs on the blogosphere, You slowly tend to realize the mistakes you have been making. Thanks for putting together all of these Photoshop sins in one place.

    ~ Seepz @ That Sassy Girl

    Reply
  25. Charnele Michel

    Those are some great tips for photoshop overdoers ! Its so easy to get carried away especially when we’re so used to slapping an Instagram filter on our “Insta-graphs”! I think the key is just to use photoshop to lightly enhance a photo but it must still appear natural.

    Reply
  26. Lala

    I use a clear watermark in the bottom corner of the photo. It is helpful–sometimes people would like to find the source and can’t. I hate running into a photo on Pinterest that goes nowhere with no ID. Otherwise, agreed on the Photoshop overuse. With digital photography you can take a million shots. Get a good one!

    Reply
  27. Alice

    Who here is guilty of occasionally ruining photos with at least one of these tricks? *Shamefully raises hand*

    Given that I am an amateur photographer and Photoshopper, I would like to ask that everyone excuse my mistakes. I’m working to try to improve those things, I swear! But even though my photos may not be the best, there are still a few pet peeves that I have when it comes to photo manipulation. When people attempt to eliminate parts of their bodies (in very noticeable ways!) or when they tend towards super dimly lit photos that are excessively blurry in an unintentional manner, I typically don’t enjoy their blogs as much as other blogs with better photography.
    That being said, I do try to cut people some slack seeing as I’m a pretty awful photo manipulator myself!
    As with all things, I suppose that practice gradually makes perfect and constantly viewing others’ photos and learning from their successes and mistakes doesn’t hurt either.

    ~Alice
    Ainfinitaire

    P.S. The watermark on that last photo…dying of laughter right now 🙂

    Reply
  28. jill

    Haha, Jennine, great piece. Over the past four years, I’ve been guilty of most of the above (except sharpening). When I first switched to digital, I didn’t know how to get a short depth of field as I could when I manually shot on my dad’s Pentax, so I was spending countless hours trying to do authentic background blurs. I cringe, in hindsight.

    And since I still don’t have an iPhone (long story) I still can’t get Instagram, so I can’t get Bokeh, or Bocca.. and re: the watermark, I think we first virtually met after a copyright infringement thing with Spanish Elle, and I was already spending more time getting the right subtle balance on what I felt was my discreet watermark, than I was on my photos. And it still didn’t stop them from posting my shots!

    I’ve only recently discovered that the watermark I’ve been using for years – the link I was sending it to, doesn’t even exist. And you’ve just saved me countless future hours because reading this, I’ve decided. You are right. If I don’t want my images to be shared, what the hell am I doing putting them out there in the first place?

    You’ve taught me an important lesson today: I need to be more generous spirited with regards my photography. And you made me LOL with the watermark thingy.

    Reply
  29. Anna

    Staring at the EXTREME sharpness one actually made my eyes hurt! These are some great tips!

    xx
    Anna

    Reply
  30. Luz

    Best watermark ever! Jennine’s outfit pictures could pull that out easily!
    Thanks Jennine! For being an amazing teacher, always ready to answer my worries through your always useful Blogging tips.
    I usually don’t post many style pictures on blog, and it is mainly because I’m not totally convinced of the quality. It has happened quite a few times, that I put a nice outfit together, look for a spot I like, take some pictures…and then once I see them on my computer screen I don’t like them and end up not posting them at all!
    I know it takes a lot of practice, but posts like this or “The Fashion Blogger’s Guide to Editing Photos Like a Pro”, are of great help!
    Thank you for your kindness! 😀

    Reply
  31. Chrissy Donnelly

    Oh my! You nailed it. Two of my biggest pet peeves is extreme sharpening an image and over contrast as I see it on social media sites often. Funny watermark!

    -Chrissy of Crashbeauty.com

    Reply
  32. Alexis Crawford

    Thank you for this post! I hate seeing fake depth of field, I’ll immediately stop reading posts because of it. It’s just super unnecessary.

    thelittlebrunette.com

    Reply