Basic Photo Editing

My two favorite things about digital photography are a) being able to take & delete as many pictures as I want and b) being able to “fix” my images after I’ve taken them!

To “fix” my images in post-processing, I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.  There are many other programs out there available for post-processing, and many of them have similar functions to Photoshop.  For simplicity’s sake, when I’m talking about photo editing, I’m going to refer to Photoshop Elements, even though most of the functions I talk about today can be done on any software.

The top three things I do to almost any picture are:

  1. Adjust brightness/contrast
  2. Adjust hue/saturation/brightness
  3. Adjust sharpness

I snapped this shot of some flowers my hubby brought me this past week!  With the bright windows in my background, I lost a little bit of detail on the flowers themselves (kind of the look I was going for anyway… but it did take some minor post-processing to make the picture look just like I wanted)

Step 1: I adjusted the brightness/contrast.  In Photoshop Elements, you get to this adjustment by clicking Layer- New Adjustment Layer- Brightness/Contrast.  I use the “layers” every time because this allows me to go back in and change each step I’ve done until I flatten the image back into a .jpg.  (If you go directly to Enhance-Adjust Lighting_ Adjust Brightness/Contrast, you can also get there, but once you go on to your next step, you can’t go back and change your first adjustment.) The adjustment has sliders for brightness and contrast and I just slide them back or forth to get my desired amount of light and shadows.

Step 2: I adjusted the hue/saturation/lightness by going to Layer-New Adjustment Layer- Hue/Saturation/Lightness.  Again, I just adjusted each slider until it looked like I wanted it to.  After I adjusted the brightness, the color looked a little too brilliant to me, so I decreased the saturation and moved the hue slider just barely to give the photo a little cooler tint.

Step 3: After I was happy with the color, I flattened the image by clicking Layer-Flatten Image.  After this, I clicked Image- Adjust sharpness and sharpened it ever so slightly.

This is just a glimpse of what Photoshop can do!  From removing objects to adding objects, to merging images, to changing color… we could fill many, many posts with all the fun things you can do!  And maybe some day we will…


  1. 2
    Bekah Kuczenski says:

    Those are the edits that I always do too, as well as red-eye correct!

  2. 3
    Tian Kinasih says:

    Wow, that is not as hard as I thought! Thank you for your information!

  3. 4

    I appreciate the steps spelled out using Photoshop. Thanks!

  4. 5
    Jessica Beard says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’d love to take a photoshop class sometime. I love taking pictures.

  5. 6

    I’m glad to learn these basic tips, as they seem to be the ones I need the most! Maybe many less photos that I can’t use!!!

  6. 7

    Photoshop sounds great! I’m still not very good at anything fussy on the computer, but if I get into photography I’d love to have Photoshop!


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