Every once and a while I take a photo and that's it – everything came together nicely and it's ready to go up on the blog. The majority of the time, however, it takes a lot of editing to get my photo looking how I want it to. In the past few months of blogging I've developed a few simple and effective go-tos that I know will help improve the look of my photo however it's lacking. There are loads of photo editing programs available these days (Photoshop, Elements, Gimp, etc.), but my personal favourite is Paint.net. It's basically a free, paired down, user friendly version of Photoshop. So what go-to photo adjustments have we in the lineup?

Turning up the brightness is one of the quickest and simplest ways to improve the look of a photo. Altering the brightness will bring more light into the photo without giving the picture too much of an overall washed out effect. Just be careful not to overdo it on the brightness because it can give the photo an odd kind of patchy effect.

Lightness is not the same thing as brightness. Lightening a photo will give it that overall washed out effect, whereas upping the brightness will do a better job preserving the quality of your colours. So why would you ever want to adjust the lightness? It can give your photo a nice soft, airy effect compared to adjusting the brightness, which can look more harsh. Furthermore you won't get that overexposed patchy effect that you can get by turning your brightness up too far. It's worth playing around with the two effects to see the difference.

Levels essentially target a colour and allow you to increase or decrease the amount of that colour in your photo. So you can target gray for example and decrease the amount of gray seen in the photo. That will have a very similar effect to adjusting the lightness/brightness. Alternatively if your photo is looking slightly too blue for example you could target the amount of red in the photo and turn it up. Levels give you the power to alter the ambiance of your photo.

If I find my photo is looking a bit dull the fastest and most effect way to give it life is to increase the saturation. It instantly punches up the colour and improves the look of the photo.

Canvas Size
Keeping your photos the same dimension each time you post gives your blog a nice professional look, but sometimes you need to crop your photo. It's useful to have a way to do so while easily keeping the same dimensions. Using the "canvas size" option, rather than the crop tool, is an excellent way to do this (that is as long as you've got “maintain aspect ratio” turned on). It trims the correct ratio off of your width and height.

If you're finding your photo is looking a little too soft focus or you're having trouble making out whatever writing may be in the photo then the sharpen tool is your friend. It makes the photo look that bit more crisp and legible. Quick and effective.

Clone Stamp & Smudge Tool
If you've taken your photo and you're really happy with everything about it... except you've noticed that there's a tiny piece of fluff in the shot or something to that effect... don't worry, there's a fix for that too. The clone stamp tool (or some programs have the healing tool or patch tool) allows you take a similar looking sample from beside the problematic area and stamp it over top of the problem. Then I find it most effective to take the smudge tool and blend out the edges. This is pretty simple to do if there's only a small imperfection. Unfortunately it's a lot harder if you have a larger imperfection. By the way this is just one way of doing touch ups. I know Photoshop has much more sophisticated tools for touch ups these days, but for those of us who don't have access to Photoshop this method might be useful.

I must admit Paint.net as not the only program I used to edit this photo today. I also used some sweet, sweets apps on my phone. You can bet on me having the Photo Editing Apps Edition version of this post up for you guys in the near future.


  1. The main thing I struggle with my blog is the pictures. I live in a very dark student house and it hardly gets any light so taking images seems impossible at the moment! I may have to use these brightening tips to fake the light that I get in my little cave!

    Bethan | Thought from Beth x

  2. I do a little shifty thing with the curves (usually upping the whole RGB thang and also extra in blue because my photos always come up yellow but my last photo was way too blue so idk) and basically nothing else lol

    ellabooxo • beauty & lifestyle</a

  3. It's so fantastic that there are free programs online to edit photos, instead of paying obscene amounts for the Photoshop suite. Sharpening and brightening are two elements I always, without fail, use when I'm editing photos.

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

  4. Lightening & brightening really make all the difference I find. Great tips.

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

  5. I'm a big fan of brightness in blog photos, but not so much lightness especially if it is showing specific products because it changes the color

    Allison from www.mercuteify.com

  6. I love this. I'm always trying to better my photography and learn new little tricks! X


  7. Agreed. I try to avoid adjusting the lightness when I'm trying to show the colour of something.

  8. Yeah I need to play around with curves more. I've seen a lot of people say they use that feature.

  9. Yeah, I'm lucky enough to have studio lights because I live in a basement suite where there is never any light... ever.

  10. Great tips love! I always enjoy reading about photography and editing tips. Photography is becoming a huge passion of mine, so any help I can get is greatly appreciated. :)

    xo Mandy | Blog

  11. Brightness really makes such a difference and is so necessary on bad lighting days!


  12. This is really useful! I've always been a bit confused by brightness and lightness, so I'm glad you cleared that up for me, haha. I generally use pixlr, which I find works fine for me :)

    xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings

  13. Great tips! I'll have to try out paint.net & see how I like it. I usually use pixlr, which is also kind of set up like Photoshop, but I'm not a huge fan. It's got some flaws that just ain't cool. I agree, there are some phone apps that are really good quality photo editors! I love Afterlight.

    Sofia | palelily.blogspot.com

  14. I have been trying out editing my photos and this has been really helpful. Thank you!


  15. Yup I totally get what you said about the difference between brightening and lightening. Editing photos is one of my favorite things to do! Great tips, holly! x

  16. Great tips! Photos are so important on a blog so when they're nicely edited it really makes a difference!

    Chloe The Redhead |
    Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle

  17. i love your photos they make me so happy. I also love reading and editing my own photographs on my blog it's probably my favourite task when it comes to blogging. I really need to try out paint.net because i currently use pixlr and love it but its nice to give another editing software a try

  18. Yeahh do it. The awesome thing about paint.net is that if there's something you can't do on it, there's almost definitely a plugin that you can install that will allow you to do it.

  19. Clone stamp!
    i've just recently learned how to use that tool, and it is so helpful, especially if you want to get rid of small imperfections!
    Thanks for all your tips.

    X, Carina
    Running White Horses

  20. Thank you for introducing me to paint.net! My life will never be the same again. Great post!
    Jo | www.adoseofjo.blogspot.com