How to make your wedding photos look their best.
No matter whether you got your wedding photos made by a photographer or by your friends, there will always be a couple of photos with unique motives that you want to have in your wedding album, but that do not look perfect due to technical reasons such as bad contrast, insufficient lighting, blurriness or an odd color tench. This articles introduces you to a couple of techniques that you can apply to your wedding photos in order to fix those problems and make them look their best.
1. Choosing the right photo enhancement software..
In order to apply any of the fixes we will discuss in this article, you have to install a state-of-the-art photo manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop or Gimp on your computer. We can recommend Gimp in particular, since it offers a comprehensive set of photo enhancement functionality and on top of that is non-commercial and therefore free for everybody. Photoshop on the other hand might put even better functionality at your disposal, but you will have to purchase a license in order to use it.
2. White balance correction..
The automatic white balance function corrects the white balance of your photos at the click of a button, thus turning the color on a photo that is closest to white (e.g. a bright gray) to plain white and brightening all other colors up accordingly. This effect can work wonders on wedding photos that are too dark or have a gray tench. Please have a look at the example below:
While white balance correction can fix a lot of photos, it will have hardly any effect on photos that are too dark in general, but also contains very bright elements, e.g. bright reflexes or a very bright background. Furthermore, it can also add an unwanted blueish tench to some photos, particularly to indoor wedding shots with a warm lighting, e.g. from candle light. In those cases you will get a better result with contrast and brightness correction.
3. Contrast and brightness correction..
When you make your wedding photos brighter, they typically lose contrast in the process. This means you will have to increase contrast afterwards. Contrast and brightness correction is useful to make dark photos brighter or bright photos darker without modifying the overall hue. But please be careful: using this function you risk losing detail on the dark parts of your photos when increasing contrast, e.g. the folds in the grooms jacket might disappear.
White balance, contrast and brightness correction are the effects that we recommend to apply first. Once you have exhausted their benefits, you should have a closer look at the colors in your photos.
4. Fine-tune color saturation..
Adding contrast has the side effect of increasing color saturation, whereas making your wedding photo brighter has the adverse effect. Once you have done everything you can to improve the light conditions in your photo with the afore mentioned functionalities, you can move on to fine-tune to color saturation. Typically, you will want to increase saturation, since it makes your photos warmer. Outdoor shots instantly look more "sunny" after a color saturation increase. On the other hand, there might be shots that came out with unnaturally striking colors, e.g. the 70th style dress of your favorite aunt, and therefore might benefit from a decrease in color saturation.
5. Remove an odd color hue.
The most likely unwanted color hue your wedding photos may have is blue. Blue like any other hue can be removed by playing with the overall color hue settings of your photo. If this does not show the desired effect, you can try to desaturate blue altogether, i.e.turn your blue into gray. Removing an odd color hue is tricky and possibly none of the afore mentioned techniques will yield a satisfactory result. In this case, you still have the option to turn the photo in question to black & white.
6. One word about blurriness..
Of all defects a photo can have, blurriness is the hardest to deal with. All enhancement functions we have discussed so far have been using existing picture information and modified it for a better result. Blurriness on the other hand is a consequence of missing picture information. Still, there are a couple of sharpening filters offered by Photoshop and Gimp that you are welcome to try out. The outcome might not be very gratifying though. The most pragmatic approach to dealing with blurred� photos might be to NOT add them to your wedding album design, or if they are truly unique and indispensable, to make them as small as possible.
7. Grainy wedding photos..
If your wedding album is using scans of hard-copy photos, those will be grainy, i.e. show small dust specks that are particularly noticeable on black background. Gimp features a helpful filter that gets rid of most of those specks. Still, after having applied the filter you will still have to remove some of the more resilient specks manually, e.g. with the stamp tool. This is a laborious process, but if you spend some time on this, you will achieve a very decent result.
8. Putting it all together..
Typically, you will have to apply several if not all of the functions illustrated in this article to make your wedding photos look their best. Initially, it will feel like a lot of work and you will have to spend a lot of time on the first couple of photos. Once you get the hang of it, the process will become quicker. So, please give it a bit of time and stick to it - it is worth it!