Ultimate Guide to Retouching an Image

Google Playstore has infinite apps, such as Google’s Snapseed and the Adobe LightRoom however as we all know, most of the apps don’t suit us. Likewise, there are hundreds of apps just made for editing pictures that you click! Pictures are edited if the end result is not what wanted it to be, maybe because of some natural factors, camera settings, or even the nature of the event. For example, if you see a beautiful landscape while traveling on a bus, you won’t have the time to click the picture with the perfect settings on a Manual mode in such a short span of time. You won’t think and you’ll just try to capture it. In order to help you out with our troubles, I get you the Ultimate Guide to Retouching an Image.

The editing apps majorly focus on the adjustment of different factors in a picture which is mainly: brightness, Contrast, Noice, Clarity.

Thus we begin today’s lesson to the Ultimate Guide to Retouching an Image.

Brightness/ Exposure:

It simply refers to the overall lightness or darkness of the image. Increased brightness will remove the dark parts in a photograph.

As you can see in the above image, the original image is dark. However, after changing the brightness of the image it basically adds more colors to the image.


Contrast is the difference between light and dark in an image. An image will high contrast will be dark with bold colors whereas a picture will low contrast will be comparably dull.

If you look at the 1st image of the sea landscape, everything looks a bit dull. By adding contrast to it the colors seem to bloom.

Highlights and shadows:  

They are the brightest and the darkest spot in a photograph, respectively. If you increase highlights, the bright spot. Less the highlights, bolder the colors. Whereas less the shadow, the picture would look unsaturated and dull.

If you look at the image on the left, the colors are more prominent as the highlight is kept at a low frequency. Whereas, in the image on the right, where the frequency of the highlight is more, the color seems to change from a warmer shade of orange to a lighter shade.

Color Balance:

 In photography and image processing, color balance is the global adjustment of the intensities of the colors.

If you look at the image on the left, which is the original image, the true colors of the leaves aren’t visible. However, if you take a look at the image on the right side, increasing the color balance of the image,  the leaves look brighter while maintaining their originality.


Temperature is the warmth or coolness of the photograph. For example, blues and purples are on the cooler end, while reds and oranges are on the warmer end.

The image on the left side is colder while the right side is warmer. By simply increasing the temperature you can make it look like a picture that was clicked under the sun, in a golden hour.


Thus makes the colors bolder, bright, darker, and saturated.

The original picture on the left doesn’t look attractive as prominent colors are missing. Whereas, on the right side, by increasing the saturation of the image, the colors look bolder and the picture looks appealing.


The setting makes the image clear by making the lines bolder.

Increasing the clarity frequency, made the lines in the image prominent and therefore made the edited image(below) stand out more than the original one.


Noise is the grains in the picture that develops if the ISO is high ( ISO100< ISO200< ISO640 and so on). Generally, there options to increase the grains in the image as it starts looking vintage. Similarly, grain reduction can make the picture look a bit more clear.

Making an image noisy is just as damaging the quality of the image. But nowadays grainy pictures are a trend as people seem to love to increase the noise in the image as it looks aesthetically vintage.


Ambiance controls the light and contrast in a photograph. Increased Ambience will make the picture brighter and used to balance black-lit photos.

Increasing the ambiance not only made the picture brighter but also made it more saturated. The edited image on the right looks warmer and brighter than the original image on the left.

I hope this Ultimate Guide to Retouching an Image is helpful to you. Now you know that whichever editing app you download, these settings will be universal throughout. It means that an app will have all these settings and special settings along with it. To read much more Photography Guide check out The Ultimate Product Photography Guide. For personalized Photography Tips hit me up on my Instagram.

Keep clicking!

Neha Tanti

Neha is an amateur photographer and she's still learning. Currently 16, she started doing Photography 3 years ago. She prefers to stay behind the camera and her pictures are really awesome. If you're a noob at Photography, you should read her blogs!

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