My 5 Most Used Photo Editing Tools

(P.S. There is another chance this month to win a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 at the end of post)  

Pretty much all my photography requires editing to improve the quality of the photo.  Thankfully, editing is relatively simple- I use Adobe Photoshop Elements for all my photo editing and have for over 3 years now.  Photoshop Elements includes a large range of tools to improve your photos- but I have 5 tools that I use on nearly all my photos that I am sharing so that anyone can improve their photography with some easy steps using Adobe Photoshop Elements!

My first tip is a bonus tip- before sitting down to edit your photos- CLEAN YOUR SCREEN!  Has anyone else ever spent time trying to get rid of a smudge only to realize it is on your screen and not on the photo?  (shamefully, I raise my hand…) A close friend is a professional photographer who I bug all the time with questions about lighting (Thank you Liora, you are awesome) and she says these screen smudges get to her too, so I do not feel AS ashamed ;)

Ok, now that we have wiped clean our screen and can see our unedited image, let’s get started on what we do to improve the photo:  (Note: the only editing on this photo below is I reduced image size to fit the blog)

1) Crop.  My first go-to action is to crop the photo.  I only want to continue to edit the part of the photo I want actually used, so cropping is first.

I crop for a variety of reasons- sometimes I didn't get quite the angle I wanted and crop to make that possible.  I crop out kid hands that sneak into a shot and I also crop out me! I sometimes do overhead shots without a tripod and stand on a chair.  And this is what I need to crop out in the photo above- feet and food are not an appealing combo...

Adobe Photoshop Elements offers crop suggestions when you click on crop.  These are very helpful.  In this case, I did not use the suggested crop and cropped myself.  Click crop button tool and select the green checkmark when done or press Enter.


2) Now that I have the image cropped to size, I go into Brightness & Contrast.  From the top bar menu choose- Enhance- Adjust Lighting- Brightness & Contrast.  I did not need a ton of new light here, so I just added a bit more brightness.  I tend to keep my shots very light on A Bubbly Life and it is rare that I do not brighten up the photo with some help from Photoshop Elements.


3) Spot Healing Brush.  Do you see how in my crop there was just a little space left over where you can see the table ending?  I do not want that showing.  A quick brush over with the spot removal tool and it now matches the white tablecloth.  I also noticed a tiny red dot (from the cherry in the cocktail) on the lime.  Ok, this is a really tiny red dot and you may not have noticed it, but I did and it drove me crazy. Spot removal tool and it is gone!  

I do not have to use the spot healing brush for every photo but it is such a great option to remove spots from a photo.  When I do cocktail shoots like this one, I sometimes spill the cocktail a bit on the tablecloth (not because I drank any, I am just clumsy;  I only get to enjoy the cocktail when shoot is over!)  Spot removal gets rid of it instantly.  I remember when I discovered this tool- not to be dramatic or anything-  but it was life changing.

To use, select  the bandaid icon and choose your brush size, I usually keep it somewhat small to give more control (the red dot was very tiny & I used a very tiny brush pixel size of 6 for it, you usually need bigger).  


4) Sharpen tool.  You can choose Auto Sharpen in Adobe Photoshop Elements under the Enhance Dropdown Menu.  When you choose auto sharpen, Photoshop Elements will sharpen the entire photo based on where the software thinks it is needed.  For this photo, I did not do an auto sharpen and used the tool.  As a rule of thumb, I like to use the sharpen tool whenever citrus is involved.  It makes it look juicier to me :)

Before sharpening:


After sharpening:


5) Dodge Tool. I thought I was done with the photo, but looking at it again, I did not like all the shadows.  I think it gives it a cool effect but there were too many on top for my liking.  Brightness would brighten the entire photo and not just a selected area- so this is where the Dodge tool comes in.  Run the dodge tool over the areas you wish to lighten.


Final Shot:


And a reminder:beforeandaftereditingshot_edited-1.jpg
What a difference editing makes!  

Now that the photo is all done, I can easily share it with Photoshop Elements 14, I just click Share & choose where I want it to go!  When it comes to my kid’s photos, I am all over that Facebook share button, makes it SO much easier to show off my kids!


Do you need a cocktail after all that info?  Try the coconut cherry lime vodka cocktail pictured! (with many more photos for your enjoyment ;)

Any questions?  Please let me know in comments or feel free to email me!

I am a Photoshop Elements 14 Brand Ambassador, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  Thank you for supporting brands that keep A Bubbly Life going!

Win a Copy of Photoshop Elements 14!