wine on the keyboard

Quick Photo Post Processing Tips

by Kay~Kacey on 3/7/2008

A Photoshop Elements Tutorial

These are some adjustments I usually do to every photo I take. I’m using Photoshop Elements here, but you should be able to do similar with Photoshop. (which is on my PC, so therefore isn’t getting used these days)

So if you can’t afford the $$ for Photoshop, you can find Photoshop Elements for under $100. For Windows: Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 or for the Mac-Verison 6 coming April 1 Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 (Mac) You can get it for less if you have a student in the family and get the student version. It’s a great way to get your feet wet on editing photos, without the outlay of cash for the full version of Photoshop.

Okay, on to the tutorial. First, here is my deer. Straight out of the camera.
deer straight out of the camera

I then do layer, new adjustment layer, levels. You get this:

levels adjustment

Now here is how to set up your adjustments the first time. Once you get them set up, it will ask you if you want to save them. Say yes, and you won’t have to set up these adjustments again. Double Click on the left eyedropper. It will bring up this ColorPicker:

colorpicker

Fill in 10 for R G and B. Click ok.

Now double click on the middle eyedropper. Fill in 128 for R, and G, and B. Click ok.

Double click on the right eyedropper. Fill in 240 for R, and G, and B. Click ok. (it might ask you to save settings here. Say yes. If it asks you to save settings later, make sure to say yes so you don’t have to go through these steps again.)

Okay, so much for the one time set up. Now click on the left eyedropper and go to the blackest/darkest spot on your photo. Click on that spot on the photo. This is what it did to my deer.
deer with some correction

Click on the right eyedropper and go to the lightest spot on your photo. Click on that spot. This is what it did to my deer photo.
deer with more adjustments

For the more difficult photos:

But what if you can’t find the darkest spot or the lightest spot? Well, I can help you with that too. Do a layer, adjustment layer, threshold. Move the slider at the bottom of the threshold all the way to the left. The picture turns white. Slowly move the slider to the right until the first black appears. Remember this spot. You might have to slide it a bit more to the right to figure out where you are on your photo.
working with threshold
Now slide the slider all the way to the right. The photo turns black. Slide the slider a bit to the left until see the lightest spot. Remember this spot.

Now you can delete the threshold layer and proceed to clicking on the left eyedropper and clicking on the darkest spot on your photo, then click on the right eyedropper and click on the lightest spot on your photo.

The middle eyedropper is for the neutral grey tones. But that’s a topic for another post!

Now I fiddle with other adjustments. Hues, sharpening, cropping, etc. But this is what I usually do to each photo to start my post processing of the photo. Have fun! (I think I’m a little off on where I clicked on the lightest spot on my photo. It was hard to distinguish the spot with all the snow. I would probably go back and fiddle with this some more, but as it is, it’s taken me hours to write up this tutorial. So I’m sticking with what I’ve got here.) :mrgreen:

Straight out of Camera:
deer straight out of the camera
After Quick Adjustments:
deer straight out of the camera

Here is another set. The one on the left is straight out of the camera. Subtle changes to the one on the right, but it does improve the shot.
deer out of cameradeer after adjustments

Now I fiddle with other adjustments. Hues, sharpening, cropping, etc. But this is what I usually do to each photo to start my post processing of the photo. It worked great on my flower pics from Palm Desert. Have fun!

For more photo processing fun, see this post on Country Girl’s blog.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne March 7, 2008 at 8:39 am

My head is swimming, LOL. I’m trying to learn Elements, but slowly….

Country Girl March 7, 2008 at 11:18 am

I’ve been using the Shadow/Highlight tool under adjustments a lot. It brightens up the front of your picture, almost as if you had a flash on, but a nice warm flash (hard to explain). Thanks for the tips! I just may check these out tonight.

I sharpen mine up a bit, too, using the unsharp mask feature which can sometimes leave halos around things and just found a way to do this in my Photoshop CS2 book to avoid the halo.

Tori Lennox March 7, 2008 at 12:56 pm

You’re really becoming quite an expert at this!

Christine March 7, 2008 at 1:00 pm

FYI, you can do *everything* that is done in Photoshop CS3 or Photoshop Elements in GIMP as well. Most tutorials can be translated from PS to GIMP: just different menus.

Difference? GIMP is 100% free.

That’s a bonus for poor people like moi. :cool2:

Christine March 7, 2008 at 1:03 pm

but as it is, it’s taken me hours to write up this tutorial.

Oh, I know what you mean. I’m working on a tute now on texturizing your photos and it is quite involved to actually make a tutorial. When I do post-processing, I just go in at it, fiddling with this or that, not thinking. But a tutorial requires you to plan and document each step. And *that* is what is taking me forever! ha! :lol:

Kacey March 7, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Country Girl, I use the shadow/highlight a lot too. Though, interestingly, in California, I had to do the opposite of what I do for my winter pics from here. Usually here I lighten shadows about 25%. Out there I had to darken highlights instead. I guess from the harsh lighting out there.

Christine, I had heard that Gimp can do a lot of the same things. So you’re writing up a Gimp tutorial? Cool. I love reading tutorials and figuring out how to do them with the software I have. Texturizing. I’ve been reading up on it. Actually saved some textures to my computer, but haven’t played with them yet. Can’t wait to see your tutorial.

chanda March 7, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Yoikes! I just started playing around with photoshop recently. It is sooo adictive. You take great pictures by the way!

Kim March 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I love your pictures. One of these days I’m going to learn how to work photo shop so that mine turn out just as nice. :smile:

Misty Dawn March 7, 2008 at 8:26 pm

We have PhotoShop, but I don’t know nearly as much on it as my Hubs does.

melody is slurping life March 8, 2008 at 12:02 am

Really good tutorial. Ain’t Photoshop heavenly?

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