Even if I’m a shabby photographer, I can compensate a little bit by being better at cheating.
Taken today in the greater part of the Valley Life Sciences Building, this picture shows a charming 19th-century microscope (I deliberately omitted any informational text because I thought it’d take away from the picture):
It’s not a great shot for many reasons. To me, the most obvious was that the left side of the picture is completely wacko on the colors. I wanted to use this fine specimen for a background (at least, until I can borrow my roommate’s camera to get a better shot), but that discoloration would bother me for sure. After three minutes of mucking around in GIMP:
I exaggerated the color fix-up a bit, I admit, but I think it’s nonetheless a substantial improvement. My method was simple: copy and paste (via rectangular selection) the affected portion of the image, plus some space to account for transition back to the untouched portion of the picture. In this case, it was the left one-third of the picture that I selected (and then some). Having created a new layer, I set its mode to Hard Light and played with the Color Balance (Colors > Color Balance) until I got pretty close to what I wanted (adding some yellows and reds did wonders). Then I fiddled with the opacity slider. Finally, I added a layer mask (to my retouched one-third layer) that was entirely transparent except for a sharp white –> black gradient at the extreme right, allowing for a transition back to the untouched part of the image.