Improving Your Photos With the Magic of Editing *Desktop Version*

Improving photos is so easy with some basic changes makes a difference. Where to start? Follow along and make your photos pop off the screen and make it more the way you remember.


Ice fishing is one of the tougher times to take quality photos is in the winter. Bright sun with a white background or inside an ice fishing shack with a window in the back make the camera adjustments tricky.

First example is a great example of an awesome fish that does not pop without the adjustments.



Above is the original shot with no adjustments. Step by step each photo below will have one change. I am using the stock photo viewing software on my Apple computer. There will be slight differences for each software but the concept is the same. I always keep an original of a photo also.


Again here is the original photo with the tool bar on the right. 




First start with the exposure to adjust the amount of light in the photo. Notice Ben's face gets brighter and the crappie gets more detail. This is key to getting more detail in the fish even if the pic is slightly out of focus. Later the results will show.


Next is the contrast. This helps the image pop by reducing the muddy look. Most photos require small changes or it will become unreal and not desired.

Each change is meant to be small to avoid a fake look. The next step is one of the secrets to bringing out the detail on a washed out white part of the photo. In this picture, it is mostly the area between the fin and the tail. Adjusting the Highlights brings detail into those areas. This is an area where it is very forgiving and large adjustments can be made in many photos without drastic changes. This brings more detail to the scales.

Next is adjusting the Shadows. This brings out details in the dark areas. Be careful to not pull in too much and muddy the photo up. The contrast in steps above is what helps with this adjustment.

Saturation comes next. This is a tricky one to not blow out of proportion. On my photos, I tend to be very red to begin with so my face often turns red however it makes the fish look more like I remember them right out of the water. Make small adjustments and look at all details of the photo and make a compromise. This is an adjustment that I see in Mike's photo's in Northern Canada. It helps pop the beautiful skies up there. In this photo it helps the crappie pull out the other colors not seen in the original photo such as the deep greens and yellows.


Next step was the Sharpen adjustment. This can help in blurry fish photos just a tad. It helps pop the individual scales in a photo that is in focus and really defines the lines. This is another step to be careful in to avoid over adjusting. This step is often not used but in this photo it helped a bit to really make it pop.



Here is the side by side comparison. What photo would you like to show off?

One heck of a fish and just a few adjustments to make the fish really be the star of the photo!

Special thanks to Ben for allowing me to use his recent crappie photo. 

Also special thanks to all of you who have taken photos of me. These are the memories we like to remember and a photo worthy of framing is a great wat to remember. I have many photos that take me back to a certain day and I can tell you all about the trip with just that one reminder.

I will also be writing another tutorial that will show how to use your phone to edit photos.

Another example of slight adjustments making the fish pop and look more real on the screen.


Species Covered:


FP4LifesDad's picture

Very cool step by step buddy!  I used to toy with my photos to, I can't remember what the program was, but the wife and I bought a really nice Nikon with all the different lenses and super fast shutter speed.  It would freeze hummingbirds in the air so you could see their wing feathers and stuff like that, took some really cool lightning and northern lights shots.  I usually don't bring that camera along on ice trips as I don't want it to get broken.  Your write up reminded me how much fun it is and how much cooler you can make the photos look with some tweaking.  Thanks for the great read and inspiration.

I do have a question though, most of my shots from fishing now I take from my phone, but when I download them to here there is the 2mb limit, I'm assuming this affects the quality of the photo, but I've seen some really crisp shots on here.  Does this have anything to do with it?  I know my phone can't compete with my Nikon, but some of the phone shots are super clear and the next ones kind of suck.  Any suggestions?

Outdoors4life's picture

Cell phone pics can be good if they have good lighting. 
I often use my cell phone flash to have some filler light. I think the reason for many blurry photos is not holding the camera still enough. Hold the phone up longer than you think it needs and you will get more clear photos. Same goes for a point and shoot. 

I remember a few years ago saying cell phones cameras are the death of photography. I still think this holds true because people don't carry a camera for the most part. 

I took a few pics on my last trip with my cell phone because it was convenient but it was only in good light. The flash is still not enough to really do much. I look forward to trying out an Iphone 7 hearing that they improved the camera.

My last ice trip I had a cell phone, point and shoot, and my DLSR. All were used.

I will be adding another article using a mobile device and the stock adjustments. I think almost every photo can be enhanced to make it look much better. If you go back and look at the FB catches of 2016 I edited Corey's Beaver photo and it made the details of the beaver the highlight of the photo instead of the background without losing the scenic background.  It takes time to learn but the average photo takes me less than 45 seconds to adjust.

It is all perspective!

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andy's picture

Knowing how to do very minor tweaking of your photos can improve them a lot.  Just a crop, very modest saturation and a graduated tint or shadow enhancement is what I use, unless the light in the photo is really bad.  I use Picasa for the most part, or Photoshop if I need additional adjustments.  Photoshop CS2 is available for free download, google it up if you're interested.


I encourage everyone to stop using cell phones for their fishing photos.

Moose439's picture

Nice info man. Thanks for posting.