Image Editing Basics in Photoshop Elements

Start improving your photos fast with this step-by-step guide to image editing in Photoshop Elements.

If you’ve got everything right when shooting – such as exposure  focusing and white balance – you might think your images don’t need any editing. But chances are they’ll still benefit from some tweaking in Photoshop.

Step 3

When your camera captures a scene, it tries to create what it thinks is the best interpretation of that scene in terms of tone, color, sharpening and so on – unless you’re shooting in a Raw file format. It usually does a good job of this, but it gives you no control over any of these elements, and what it comes up with is unlikely to be an accurate representation of the scene as you perceived it.

This is where Photoshop comes in. By giving you control over things such as tone, color and contrast, it enables you to fine-tune how your finished image will look.

Typically, shots straight out of the camera tend to be slightly flat, with muted color and limited contrast. Photoshop lets you edit the image so that it becomes much more vibrant and punchy. In this walk through, we’ll show you six essential edits that can be applied to almost any image to give it a revitalising lift. We’ll be using the latest version of Photoshop Elements for this guide, that it’s primarily targeted at amateur photographers – but exactly the same principles apply when using Photoshop CS6, even if some of the menus and options are a little different in places.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you six essential edits that can be applied to almost any image to give it a revitalising lift.

Step by Step : Essential editing with Elements

1. Adjust the exposure

step 1

The best way to evaluate and correct exposure problems is to create a Levels Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels), and use the Shadows and Highlights sliders below the histogram to tweak these tones.

2. Tweak the colors

step 2

If the image has an unwanted color cast – if it’s been shot using the wrong white balance mode, for example – this can be corrected by selected the white pipette in the Levels dialog box, and licking a part of the image that should be pure white.

3. Clone but blemishes

Step 3

Whether you’re removing pimples from a portrait or sensor spots from a landscape, your first port of call should be the Spot Healing Brush, which evaluates surrounding pixels to clone out the blemish seamlessly. The Clone Stamp tool is also useful.

4. Crop in

step 4

Cropping couldn’t be easier – simple grab the Crop tool from the Tools Panel, click and drag to select the whole image, and then drag in the corners to crop out any unwanted background. To rotate the crop, hover your mouse outside one of the corners and drag.

5. Sharpen up

step 5

Sharpening should always be done at the very end of the process. Because it works by boosting the contrast along edges, any edits made after you’ve sharpened may exaggerate the sharpening, making it look obvious. The key is to keep it subtle and not to over-sharpen.

6. Save it

step 6

Preserve your Adjustment Layers by saving your projects as a Photoshop (.psd) or TIFF (.tif) file. The file size will be bigger than if you simply save it as a JPEG (.jpg), but you’ll be able to go back and tweak individual layers at any time by double-clicking the cogs in the layer thumbnails.


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  1. Superb basic tips for editing images in photoshop elements!

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