Article written using Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 with Windows 7
I have a confession to make. I usually take photos with scrapbooking in mind. I like to make sure the background is free of any distractions, the lighting is good, everybody is looking at the camera, and all without making the picture feel forced or posed. Sometimes it works out, and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes there isn’t time to set up the shot, check your lighting, etc. With those pictures, a little post-editing can be a lifesaver.
I had this exact problem with the photos I took on Christmas morning last year. I loved the expressions on my kids’ faces, the sleepy and excited smiles from when they first woke up, the delighted grins as they opened presents. I loved the photos, but they were all so dark! They needed a little work before I used them on a scrapbooking layout.
I like to edit my photos using Adjustment layers because the changes aren’t made to the actual photo layer; each adjustment type is on its own layer. This allows you to make additional changes, to tweak colors or levels as you go along, or to undo edits if you change your mind. Let me show you how!
Step 1: Open a photo that needs adjusting in Photoshop Elements.
Step 2: Create a Levels Adjustment layer. The Adjustment layer icon is the small half-black/half-white circle at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Step 3: Move the black and white sliders in a little towards the center. The amount you move them will depend on the picture, but a general rule is to look at the histogram (the black wavy thing above the sliders) and move the black and white sliders in to where the histogram really starts getting tall. Play with the middle slider to adjust the amount of grey.
Step 4: Add other Adjustment layers until you get the look you like. Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, and Photo Filter are especially good at improving photos.
Step 5: To use your photo on a layout, you can merge all of the layers, and save as a JPG, but remember that you won’t be able to make any more changes after merging. A better method is to first use a clipping mask (Ctrl+G) on all Adjustment layers, clipping them to the photo layer, and then highlight all layers and link them. (The link icon looks like a piece of chain link and is located at the bottom of the Layers panel.) Finally, move your picture onto your layout. This allows you to make additional edits later.
Sometimes a quick snapshot is the only way to preserve a moment, but even these less-than-perfect pictures can help preserve a perfect memory. I’d love to see how you use Adjustment layers to improve your photos on your digital scrapbook layouts, so be sure to post them in the Scrap Girls Gallery!
Digital scrapbooking products used:
Commercial license versions of ScrapSimple Tools – Styles: Basic Shadows 6501 are also available.
Tutorial written by Anna Mansfield