Most images are not meant to be used as wallpapers. Freely available images are either too small or low quality for this purpose. See how to get the most out of what's available with the best tools.
There are many beautiful pictures already
In principle that's correct, but relative to the number of existing images, they represent a very small portion. Do a Google images search for anything and look at the quality and sizes of the results. How many would you like for your background? The answer is most probably none or, if you're lucky, a few.
You could also look at user-rated collections of images. Take deviantart.com for example, it has a large number of pictures (42 million). Their all-time ranking has good images in the top 1 million at most. It means that only approximately 2 percent of the images are worth something. Among them, only a small part have the adequate resolution. So probably less than 1 percent are good wallpapers material.
Still, there are many images to choose from. But, when including the size factor and your personal preference this number decreases a lot.
Fixable image defects
While there theoretically are good quality images that fit your profile finding them is the biggest problem. Because of the large fraction they represent, poor quality images are the most probable result of any search. Many of these are just plain useless, but some of them can be improved.
The most common problems with online pictures are: excessive noise, compression artifacts, wrong focus/blur, over/under exposure, non-fitting color tints, over-sharpening and small size.
Adjusting the adjustable
Photoshop has several features that could come in handy. For each of the defects, here are some solutions:
- Excessive noise: reduce noise filter
- Compression artifacts: reduce noise filter (check the reduce compression artifacts option)
- Inappropriate blur: smart sharpen
- Exposure correction: shadows/highlights adjustments and levelsColor tints: auto-color, levels on color channels.
Why small sizes?
First, images are have low resolution because some of the other defects. How so? Blur and noise disappear when the image is shrunk. Photographers know this, and when posting images on the web they resize them first to look better.