How To Edit Blurry & Grainy Photos

by - 7/17/2015

It's very common (to me that is) to have blurry or grainy photos because I use my phone's camera to take pictures. The rear cam is pretty decent. It's the front cam that's just so horrendous that I rarely like any selfies I take (or maybe it's just how I look?) :D

But even the rear cam tends to blur too, especially when my hands are shaky from too much coffee and/or from lack of sleep :D Grainy photos tend to happen when I take photos in less brighter environments.

One way I get to save my photos (some of them) is by editing them on Photoshop. I would just like to put it out there that I am not an expert of Photoshop. I just found these ways work for me, and the results please me. :)



I'm not sure if you can notice but I only sharpened the parts where there's text particularly the BB cream, blotting paper, lip balm, and compact.

If the entire photo is blurry (and you really want to use it) then you can sharpen the entire image while also selecting specific parts to sharpen individually. I find it easier to sharpen details individually because they sometimes require different settings to get the result I'm looking for.

Here are the steps I take when I edit my blurry and grainy photos. Please click the images to view in their original size.

After brightening, straightening and cropping the image, I select the original layer (background) then proceed to select a part of the image to sharpen. To do this I use the polygonal lasso tool. This is the easiest way for me to select an irregularly shaped object and works best with a plain background such as white because I don't have to be very particular in selecting only the object and not the background. You don't want to use a patterned background for this because the part of the pattern where you selected will become sharper than the rest of the pattern. It will then look obvious.

Polygonal lasso tool - select the object by clicking on the corners/edges (like connect-the-dots but on the perimeter of the object) - the cursor icon will have a circle on the bottom right to indicate that the selection will close (the last line meets the first) - right click - layer via copy - ctrl+D to deselect selection.

Select the new layer (Layer 1). If you turn off the layer Background copy, you will see that Layer 1 is darker because it is a copy of the original image while Background copy is the layer where you applied the filter and other settings to brighten the image.

Once you have your area/s to sharpen, go to Filter - Sharpen - Smart Sharpen.

The display will show the center part of the image. If it's blank, you will have to scroll through the image to view your selection. Just grab (cursor is in the shape of a hand), hold and drag towards the part of the image where your selection is located.

Experiment with the numbers on the settings. The changes are real time (shows on the display) so you can assess the effects each nudge is going to make. As I have advised on the Brightening tutorial, it is best to do baby steps and not take them all the way at once. You will only get to view the effect on the entire image once you hit OK. So check once in a while to see if you need more adjustments and just go back in case you still need it.

Once you're happy with it, don't forget to do the other layers. I find that they differ in settings. Just season according to taste. :D

To reduce noise (the grainy bits or pixelation) go to Filter - Noise - Reduce Noise.

Similar with sharpening, season according to taste. Click OK when done. Don't forget to do the other layers.

You can do noise reducing before sharpening, I think that's what I've done before with this image looking at these screenshots now. Compare the Smart Sharpen screenshot with Reduce Noise screenshot. You will see that Reduce Noise is grainier.

Anyway, when you're done and happy with the results, save the image as jpg or png. More on saving and image re-sizing on my next tutorial post. The image is usable though and can be uploaded on to your blog. :)

I hope you enjoyed my post. What other ways do you want to learn to edit your images on Photoshop? Let me know in the comments so I'll have an idea which tutorials would be of much help. Thanks for reading!

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  1. Great tutorial especially for a noob like me (^-^)

    1. Thanks! Hope it's easy enough to follow. I tried to be as descriptive as I can. :)

  2. Oh thanks for this excellent tip sweetie
    Very useful post, I´m going to save the link of this post for use to future

    1. Thanks! Glad you found it useful. :)