First off, let me tell you that I am more than likely the odd ball of the CMpros.
Well, for starters I shoot in jpeg. I’ll just go ahead and admit that right off the bat. However, shooting in jpeg forces me to get the shot right in camera. There is no room for goof ups and I love that. It’s good for me. Jpeg pushes me to get the shot right the first time and it works for well for me. I have to admit, that I am often looking for shortcuts in life. I believe that if I shot in RAW, I would get lazy with my shooting and just feel as if I could “fix it later” while editing. I don’t want to feel as if I have an out in editing. With my personality, I need to know that I have one chance to get the correct exposure, white balance, and so on. That way, I don’t take the easy road and edit it all later. I am, of course, not saying that RAW is wrong and jpeg is right or vice versa. This is just what works for me.
Second, I’ll say that several people have tried to convince me to switch to a more “professional” editing software. My husband, for one, has offered to purchase CS whatever the latest number is several times and I’ve turned down the offer. I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but I have found that I really love Elements. For the way in which I edit there is really nothing that I CAN’T do in PSE.
Also, I will admit to using an action on the final step of my images. Please know, however, that actions will not fix any mistakes that you may have made in camera. In fact, an action will most likely make your image muddy and yucky and down right gross unless you have a near perfect image to start with. The actions that I love best are made by Annie of Paint the Moon and Sarah of My Four Hens. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, please (pretty please!) do not use an action in an attempt to correct any problems that you have with an image that is SOOC. It will look unnatural and very much actioned. (There is a new word for you!)
Now, on with the way I edit my jpegs in PSE. This is my six year old, Allison. This image is SOOC and very green; however, Allison is pretty anti-camera so I was a bit pleased that she gave me a real smile right away. The sun was setting camera right and the light was fairly warm; however, this is the second shot I took of her and I was still getting my Kelvin white balance to the correct setting. I loved the shot, though, because it isn’t often that she’s willing to let me photograph her. The first thing I almost always do is a levels adjustment by selecting Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Levels. This will create a new layer in the layers palette. For this image, I moved the middle slider to the left (to 1.22) in order to brighten the image a bit. I moved the left slider to the right (to 11) to add contrast back in.
Next, I added some red by selecting the drop down arrow in the levels adjustment palette. For the most part, I like my images to have a bit more red, but this one was very green to begin with so I added more red than I usually do. I moved the middle slider to 1.20. I didn’t want her face to be that magenta, so I brushed off the skin at 25% using a soft brush. Just make sure you have the levels adjustment selected when you brush off any areas that you do not wish to be affected by the sliders that you are moving around. So, I selected my brush, then changed the opacity to 25% (at the very top menu bar), made sure I had the levels adjustment layer selected (it’s blue!), then brushed off her face.
Next I needed to crop this a bit. However, when I cropped I ended up with extra space on the side. I just used the clone stamp at 100% opacity to fill in that gap.
I wanted the tree line to be a bit more warm and vivid the way it was when we were there that day. I used the sponge tool at 25%. I made the sponge big enough so that I could just do one even sweep across the tree area.
I like my images to have a light vignette. I burned the edges at the bottom just a tad using the burn tool at 25%. Again, I use a big, wide brush so that I can simply sweep the brush across evenly.
Now that I have my image looking the way I like, I run the action to give it a slightly hazy look. I use an action from Paint the Moon called Hush Now. I very rarely use it at 100%, however. I lower the opacity depending on the feel of the session or image. Notice in the layers palette, I have selected “Quiet Mist”. That way I can erase the misty part of the action off of any part of the image. I simply select the eraser tool and adjust the opacity to taste in order to remove the action from her eyes. Once everything looks good to me, I flatten the image and save for print.
Finally, I’m ready to prepare this image for my blog, Facebook, the CM forum or the CMpro Daily. I use a free resize/sharpen for web action from the Olive Juice Shoppe and adjust the sharpening to taste. Then, I flatten and save!
And that’s it! With this image, I had to do a few more steps than I usually do because it was a tad green to begin with, but my edits are fairly quick, easy and simple. I love editing in Elements and I think this “little brother” editing software is very underrated. It really packs a punch and works well for me. I hope this was helpful and gives you a bit of encouragement if you shoot in jpeg and edit in PSE. If you ever have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m happy to help you out!
Melissa Gibson, Georgia
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Melissa is a proud MWAC who gears up with a Nikon D700, prime lenses, and edits her “fun, childlike, and whimsical” photography solely in Photoshop Elements. Melissa’s goal both now and when she first began her photography journey in 2005 is to, in her own words, “remember my girls’ lives for them. They are so young yet growing so quickly. I know they won’t remember it all so I feel it’s my job to document it for them.”