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The 5 most common digital photo issues solved

We show you how to fix your images easily


Here are five common digital photography problems and how to sidestep them or fix them in an image editor.

Clone your problems away

You've probably taken some photos in which something annoying - a wandering tourist, a telephone pole, a fluttering pigeon - ruins an otherwise wonderful shot.

In many cases, it's easy to clone away unwanted elements in Adobe Photoshop Elements or any other popular photo editing program.

To get started in Photoshop Elements, click the Clone tool in the palette on the left side of the screen (it looks like a rubber stamp).

Next, find a region in your image that's similar to the area you want to cover. If you want to airbrush away a power line that runs through the sky, for instance, look for a nearby patch of sky to serve as your source for the clone brush.

To set the source, position the mouse pointer over it and Alt-Click. Now move your mouse over to the area you want to brush away, and start painting. Don't try to cover the blemish all at once; paint a little, pick up the mouse, and paint again.

This action reduces the chances that a recognisable pattern will appear. You can see a work in progress in this example, where I'm cloning away a boat by painting over it with water.

Advanced clone brushery
The Clone tool works best in small areas because you can start to see a repetitive pattern in the photo if you paint over too large a region.

But to help you out, the Clone tool has two different modes, which you control via the Aligned checkbox in the toolbar at the top of the Photoshop Elements screen.

In one mode, when you pick up the brush and paint elsewhere, the source stays where you put it; this is called Non-aligned mode.

If you pick up the brush and start painting elsewhere, and the source moves the same relative distance from where you started, your tool is in the Aligned mode.

It's a rather complicated concept, but you can see what I mean if you try cloning someone's face and then painting it somewhere else in the photo, as I did here.

If you clone it using Aligned mode, you can paint the entire face without any glitches even if you paint a few strokes, lift and move the mouse, then click and paint again.

Try that in Nonaligned mode, though, and you'll restart the face from the clone source point wherever you click, making it impossible to paint a face unless you do it in a single set of strokes without lifting your finger off the mouse button.

Some pictures work better with one mode or the other - experiment to see which is best in each situation.

See also: 10 great free digital photography downloads

  1. We show you how to fix your images easily
  2. Digital noise
  3. Correct bad exposure
  4. Sharpen fuzzy images
  5. Clone your problems away

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