i get a lot of questions about how i edit.. and what settings i shoot.. so i thought i’d share a bit..
I’d say 90% of the time i do not shoot in Manual..
normally, I shoot in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority or flip between. I usually manipulate the exposure throughout a session as well as the ISO if I need.. Most of the time I am working with small very active children who run from full sun to shady corners, so I need to have some control, but I don’t want to have to think about each and every setting… NOW.. if I’m shooting with studio lighting – everything – and i mean everything is different..
i do not shoot in RAW.. i tried it twice – and honestly, I know some people swear by it, but I just don’t.. I shoot JPEG and I love it and I’m sticking to that answer! I import my files in to Adobe Bridge and edit with CS4 (Photoshop)… When I began working with digital files and editing, I purchased Photoshop Elements – basically the stripped down versions of what I use now – and I was soooo overwhelmed by it.. But I was able to do plenty with it for a couple of years.. finally, once I felt I’d outgrown Elements, I purchased the newest Photoshop – CS4 and once again, felt like a COMPLETE moron for about 3 months!!! I am by no means an expert, but I like what I do and am constantly trying to find new ways of learning.. **i work in CS4 and the other versions are all slightly different**
I take each image and decide what to do to it individually – so from me you get no automated, batched editing.. just not my thing..
BASIC LIGHTEN (two ways) AND BUMPING UP THE COLORS (and saving as .psd or .jpeg)
let’s take a simple edit.. this is a very simplified way of lightening and boosting color.. my goal is to help you learn to create and play with layers.. so it is pretty simple if you have a good understanding of Photoshop, but I remember being up until 4 in the morning try to figure this stuff out! just getting an idea of what to do in Elements and Photoshop..
here is my Straight Out of Camera image (yep, i’m gonna shorten that to SOOC)
it’s a cute picture, not as bright and happy as I want – soooo let’s open up a bit of PS on it!
first thing you need to understand is Layers.. let’s do it!
1. CREATING A NEW LAYER
I always create a new layer so I am not working on the original image.. to do that in both CS 4 and Elements – the shortcut is ctrl-J..
it creates an exact copy of your image ON TOP of the original.. think of is at a copy transparency – shhhhh those of you rolling your eyes at me.. this is how i think of it! NOW.. you can make all the changes you want on this layer and if you don’t like it.. click on that little eye on the left and “turn it off” or delete..
make sure you are working on the layer you want to be working on! just click on it and make it blue in CS4.. if you want to NOT see a layer, turn it off by clicking that little eye next to the layer..
so… you can delete that layer we just made.. sorry.. but you had to learn how to do it!
2. LIGHTEN by CURVES
let’s make a nice easy change.. let’s lighten this little girl.. in Elements, I found best results with adjusting Levels OR by Curves.. I will probably talk most about CS4 as that is what I really work with now and I have distant memories of Elements 5.. if I am off, I am sorry!
For CS (not sure if elements is the same) – see down at the bottom on the right hand side under where we added the layer, there are a bunch of little symbols – we are going to work with that half shaded in circle.. not sure if elements has this, if not hold tight, I will get right back to you..
so click on the half colored circle and to lighten, you can either choose Curves or Levels.. I like Curves.. lets go with Curves first.. Elements may not have curves. sigh..
now choose “lighten” above the graph
instantly, it gets a bit lighter.. you can play around with the graph until you get where you want to be.. this is such a personal taste thing and you really need to just play around here.. you can always erase parts that are too light or just leave it as is..
at the top of your layers box there, you will see two drop down boxes, one that probably says “normal” and one that has “opacity”.. just mess with the opacity a bit too.. take it down to 80% if it’s too much.. whatever.. just play..
now lets try to another way to lighten..
3. LIGHTEN by ADJUSTING LEVELS
delete the curves layer we just made.. or turn it off.. I want to show you another way to lighten
click that little half circle.. choose “Levels” instead of “Curves” and pull the little sliders until you get the result you want..
levels works well in Elements..
if you try to save it at this step, it is a layered photoshop file (.psd) and not a JPEG (.jpeg).. SO the file will be large, but your layers are preserved. if you want to save as a .jpeg, you will need to flatten (go up to the top and under the layer tab is “flatten”.. BUT before you flatten make sure you love your changes, or you will be stuck with them! or just change the extension of the file when you are in “save as” and you will not effect the layers here.. ) i save all my edits with just an “e” after the file name and never overwrite the originals.. and if I am designing or in the middle of a tricky edit, i will save as a (.psd)….. go ahead, save it .. i will wait.. and grab a bit of coffee..
so she is lighter!!! YAY!!!!
4. BUMPING UP THE COLOR
so we have our lighter girl, and I’ve flattened my image.. now, i want to pump up those colors a bit..
a very simple way to do this is to just add a “soft light” layer..
so.. 1. create a layer.. (ctrl – J).. 2. choose “soft light” from the layer drop down box 3. adjust your opacity
that’s it! simple.. right? the main thing is to use it, try things out.. both Elements and CS are so powerful.. learn how the layers work, curves…
and the before and after…
see.. photoshop isn’t so scary
leave me a comment if you like this – pass on to your friends.. share.. i hope it helps.. i’d like to do more little tutorials if people end up liking it!