It would be nice to think that dodgy photos are a thing of the past. After all, since digital cameras allow us to review our handiwork immediately, it ought to be possible to retake any that fall below our expectations. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that for several reasons.

First, seeing anything on a camera’s LCD panel is pretty much impossible on a bright sunny day and, unless you’re prepared to zoom in while inspecting your photos, camera shake or poor focusing will be all but undetectable on the tiny screen.

Second, some shots are a once-only opportunity so if you get it wrong there’s no chance to try again.

Third, some photos are so difficult to take that you’re likely to get disappointing results however many times you try.

While digital photography isn’t foolproof, it does provide a means of correcting your photos if you do get it wrong. We’ll be using PhotoScape to edit photos here; it's a free image editor from While the details might differ, the principles will be the same with virtually all reasonably equipped photo editors.

PhotoScape has several other uses but for each of our mini walk-throughs we assume you’ve selected Editor from the opening screen and opened the offending photo. Also, unless instructed otherwise, just save your photo with a new name afterwards. Using a new name is vital as it leaves your original intact for you to try other edits.

Despite the power of editing, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s not necessary to take care in taking photos. Poor photos can certainly be improved, but the end result will rarely be as good as if you’d got it right in the first place.

For example, if your photograph is slightly out of focus, it’ll have that characteristic soft look to it and detail will be missing. Using an image-editing package’s sharpening facility will remove that tell-tale blurred look but there’s no way you can ever recover the lost detail. Similarly, although you can correct over- or under-exposed shots, the fine graduations in light and shade be lost.

With some errors - serious camera shake is a classic example - there’s little you can do in the way of editing to recover the shot. The golden rule, therefore, is to make every effort to take a good photograph at the outset.

We’ll make some recommendations on how to do this as we discuss the various photographic problems but take your time over each shot whenever possible.

How to fix common photo errors

Click the links below to get help on the problem you need to fix:

Correct red-eye

Crop an image

Sharpen blurry photos

Fix bad exposure

Improve contrast

Correct white balance when colours are wrong

Reduce depth of field (blur the background)

Remove noise from photos

Clone out unwanted objects or people