If there is anything that Instagram has shown us, it is that we can fix any dog of a photo with the right amount of filters. This example shot was taken in Branson Missouri on a lake tour. In case you were wondering how this beauty was taken (LOL) I was at IOS 100, 26mm on a 24 -105mm lens f5.6 at 1/1000th of a second shutter. Wide angle to get the scene, f5.6 because I didn’t care about my foreground or background, just the subject — and the subject was filling most of the composition. I used 1/1000th because we were on a moving lake to freeze the bobbing of the boat, and there was an abundance of light on the scene. I would consider this the pinnacle of a vacation snapshot. It was taken during the middle of the day, completely terrible light. The clouds are the only thing I would consider interesting about this shot.


So lets take this into On1 Software’s Perfect Effects… Change the sky increasing the blue and make the clouds pop a bit more, sharpen the water and the boat — make it more interesting… and what did we get? A polished dog of a shot. Maybe some creative cropping? I could turn it into a faux panorama? Why bother… lets move on…


So the color filter didn’t do the trick for me, what is the next go-to in an effort to fix that shot you aren’t happy with? Black and White! Everything looks better in black and white… Ansel Adams did it so it has to make my shot look better right? Lets adjust the saturation, make the clouds pop more and give that boat the “old time” feel that is really cries out for. Darken the water! Ah, it is perfect now right? No. not even close. Moving on…


So basic color manipulation didn’t work out as well as we had hoped and black and white was a bust too. What do we have left? The antique filter! its an old boat right? That is perfect. The colorized look can fix any mess you can imagine and why not throw a big vignette on there too while we are at it. After all a vignette really helps draw the viewer’s attention to the boat in the image, and all pro photographers use vignettes. I find it hard to believe that I don’t use vignettes on every photo I take!  I can’t think of anything else that would make this image any better, except maybe deleting it.

There is nothing that you can buy that will fix bad composition or boring subject matter. If this was taken as a vacation snapshot, then leave it as such and move on. Don’t try and make it art, don’t try and make it more than it was from the start. There is something to be said here about putting lipstick on a pig I think…

Take the time to learn about better composition, and if you have the opportunity, wait for better light when you are taking pictures. Sometimes you just can’t avoid those bad images –just like this one. The light wasn’t right, the composition was off and it was just a boring shot.  An aside note, I broke my own rule with this blog post. I generally don’t show images that I don’t like, however this seemed like a good opportunity to demonstrate the use of filters.