Photoshop Elements Tutorial: Basic Editing

I have both Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop Elements 9. I am most comfortable with PSE, and do the majority of my editing and designing in it. But I am self taught. I'm no expert, but when there's something I want to know how to do, I search and search until I find it.

I wanted to do a series of some Photoshop Elements tutorials (working with PSE 9 on a Mac) showing some tips and some of the things that I use it for. I'll also provide links to some great tutorials from other folks. Also, these are going to all be screenshot/photo tutorials. I do some of my research in places where I can't watch a video, and I really appreciate when people do screenshots, so that's how I'll be doing my tutorials.

To get started, I wanted to show you guys some very basic editing in PSE. These are some SIMPLE steps to take your straight out of the camera photo and make it look a little nicer for printing. This is not professional level editing. Two things you should do - brighten them up, and adjust the white balance. If you already perfect your white balance in camera, this tutorial isn't going to be anything new to you, you're more than likely well past this. I'll address more advanced editing in future tutorials.

First up, open your image:

The very first thing I do to any image, is adjust the white balance. I never seem to be able to do this in camera, and frankly, I don't care to try. I leave my white balance on auto pretty much exclusively, even when I'm shooting in manual mode.

Go to Enhance/Adjust Color/Remove Color Cast:

You'll click on a neutral area of the photo. I almost always choose what I know should be white. In the photo below, I know my doors are a perfect white paint color, so I click on those. You can click multiple times around the photo until you get the results you like.

Next, I adjust my lighting. Most of the time, I do this through the "levels" function, though sometimes adjusting through shadows & highlights is necessary. For this tutorial, lets look at the levels function.

Go to Enhance/Adjust Lighting/Levels.

A histogram will pop up. I could pretend I know what the heck a histogram is supposed to tell you, but I don't pay attention to that. All I know is, my photo looks a heck of a lot better when I drag the little arrows underneath to the start of the hill on either side. Dragging the black slider arrow to the right darkens up the photo, and dragging the white slider to the left lightens the photo. The middle slider adjusts the overall brightness of the image. Experiment with your sliders to get the desired look.

The black (left side) looks pretty good here, so we're going to drag the white (right side) to the left until it meets the start of the peak.

I also usually move that middle slider to the left or right depending on my photo and the effect I want.

Hit ok and you're done with these two really simple steps. Save your photo (I never save over an original, always do a file/save as and save a new copy).

Compare before:

With after:

Tomorrow I'll show you how to create and save a watermarking brush to watermark your images in a simple step.

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