You can improve a photo by removing elements that distract from the subject. Giving the viewer less to look at helps to focus more attention on the subject. Although you should compose with this in mind from the start, you can also re-evaluate your image during post-processing and simplify (again) then. This blog contains a few examples of where I eliminated some distractions during post-production to improve the picture.
The top image below has an extra barn. The barn itself isn’t bad and doesn’t ruin the picture. However, in this case I felt it distracted from the big barn, which is the main subject. So, I cropped the picture to focus attention on the subject.
A classic old red barn and windmill in early evening light
Ugly white skies are almost always a distraction. They draw attention because they are the brightest thing in the picture. So, the viewer looks at the ugly sky first instead of the subject. Had I had a more powerful lens, I would have eliminated the ugly white sky while shooting. However, I planned to crop the image later. Notice how much more focused the image is with the sky and the “1/2 child” cropped out.
Children playing with water in a dam on Tukad Unda River
Animals generally do not listen to anything I say. That includes the cows below who were not positioning themselves as I wanted. In the picture below, I had to do a little facial surgery using Photoshop to eliminate a distracting horn on the right side. I also eliminated the back of a cow behind the main subject. Getting rid of these distractions improved the picture.
Small herd of curious water buffalo