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Top Tips For Beginner And Student Photographers Using Photoshop Elements 12

Holly Constantine shares the second half of her top tips for using Photoshop Elements 12 as a beginner or student photographer.

|  Adobe Photoshop
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This article is the second and final part of the Adobe Photoshop 12: Top Tips for Beginner and Student Photographers series. As stated in the previous article, Photoshop for both beginner and student photographers can be an incredibly daunting thing. That is why, in this article, you will find instructions explaining the need-to-know areas of Photoshop Elements 12 Editor, along with any top tips on achieving the correct settings for your images at the beginning of the editing process.

Photoshop Elements 12 Editor:
As stated in Adobe Photoshop 12: Top Tips for Beginner and Student Photographers - Part 1, by clicking on the “Editor” button at the bottom of the Adobe Elements 12 Organiser workspace, Photoshop Elements 12 Editor will be launched. However, if the image you are opening was shot in RAW, a separate window called “Camera RAW” will appear. This is where you will want to convert your RAW image file into a DNG or TIFF.

To do this, you simply click on “Save Image”. You can then choose the destination in which you want to save it, whilst also changing its name, and deciding which file format to use by selecting the “File Format” drop-down menu and choosing TIFF.

However, if a TIFF option is not available, then you can save this image as a DNG file. You will then be able to open this new DNG file in Camera RAW to further save it as a TIFF. (A DNG file format is fine to use with Adobe software, but, as stated before, a TIFF is a more universal format; there will be no obvious change in the quality of the image).

save image

Save as DNG

save image 2

Save image as Tiff

Once you have managed to convert your photograph into the desired file format, you will then need to open up this image in the Camera RAW window, one last time. Within this window, you can begin the editing process with the settings given to you on the right hand side of the window.

One main thing that you can use Camera RAW for is editing you image so that it has the correct white balance. In order to do this, it has been recommended that the value of the temperature of the image should be changed to 5200.

This window also offers you the opportunity to experiment with the exposure and contrast of the image. For the exposure, you need to scroll the dial along the bar until there is a good spread of information across the whole of the histogram (found at the top of this section). In regards to contrast, however, this is all down to individual judgment and creating the wanted effect for this particular image.

Open Image

After you have changed and experimented with these three aspects, it is then time for you to open your image in the Photoshop Elements 12 Editor software. To do this, merely click on the “Open Image” button at the bottom-right of this window. (You can, however, save the image at the stage it is now, if you think it is necessary, by pressing the “Save Image” button).

TOP TIP – It would be easier for you to shoot a tiny bit darker and to push the editing in post-production, rather than the other way round.

After successfully opening your image in Photoshop Elements 12 Editor, make sure that the workspace you are using is “Expert” (this is found at the top of the screen).

The first step I usually take within the editing process is to straighten the photograph. To do this, I use the “Straighten Tool”.

Clicking on the “Straighten Tool” will allow the Straighten options to appear at the bottom of the workspace. Within this options bar, there are settings that you can change depending on the effect that you wish to create. For example, you can change the “Grow or Shrink” settings, which will determine whether the image will be automatically cropped or not. With this, I would suggest leaving it as “Grow or Shrink Canvas to Fit” as we can manually apply our own crop later in the process. You will also want to make sure that the “Rotate All Layers” is ticked, however, this is not necessary if you are creating a collage.

Straighten tool

To straighten your image, you need to start by identifying the line, which you will straighten the image around. If this line is horizontal, you then need to click and drag the tool to draw a stroke that aligns with the desired edge, before releasing the clicker.

If the edge you want to use for the straighten tool is vertical, however, you will need to click and hold down the straighten tool, then press the cmd button (Mac) or ctrl button (PC) whilst drawing the straighten tool line. Also, make sure that you release the mouse button before the cmd (Mac) or ctrl (PC) button.

Straighten tool 2

The next tool that I would suggest to use is that of the “Crop Tool”. This tool obviously enables you to crop an image to a desired size by allowing you to create a crop boundary within the image (click and drag using the “Crop Tool”). When the “Crop Tool” is selected, you can also choose the aspect ratio and grid types. Now, these settings will be different depending on the effect you will be looking for, but to create a standard photo crop, I would suggest using the “Use Photo Ratio” and “Rule of Thirds” grid.

Once you are happy with both the size and placement of this boundary, you can either click the tick (“Commit Current Operation”) symbol or press enter/return on your keyboard.

Crop tool

The next key editing technique you will need to know is how to add a new layer in order to use a non-destructive form of editing (meaning that it doesn’t edit straight onto the original image, destroying information).

To do this, simply click on the “Layer” drop-down menu found in the tool bar at the top, and choose “Duplicate Layer”. This will then bring up a dialogue box allowing you to rename this layer if required (would be encouraged if using numerous layers). After clicking “Okay”, you will then see that this new layer has been added to the “Layers” section found on the left of the workspace.

(If this cannot be seen, don’t panic, simply click on the “Windows” drop-down menu and select “Layers”, then move this pop-up box to a desired position by dragging and dropping).

Add a new layer

Duplicate layer

When editing, you can also choose to switch between layers by highlighting the layer you wish to edit. You can also hide and view the different layers by pressing the eye symbol to the left of the layers panel, making it easier for you to see any changes you have created through editing.

Once you have created a new layer, the next step is to add a simple adjustment that should be used on all images at the beginning of the editing process: Levels. Although this is a general adjustment that should be made, more specific adjustments such as hue and saturation and brightness and contrast can be changed for more specific editing needs. In this case, for each adjustment that you make, it is advised that you create a new layer in order to make these adjustments easier to organize and view.

To edit the levels within your image, you need to go to the “Enhance” drop-down menu and choose “Adjust lighting” then “Levels”. This will bring up a separate window showing the levels histogram. In order to create the correct levels within your image, you need to make sure that the two end arrows meet the edge of the histogram by dragging them in towards the histogram and into the desired position.


Levels 2

After you have changed the levels within your photograph, you can then move on to the more specific editing techniques that you will want to use for your particular image.

However, one last thing that I will mention is the use of the “History” section. This section shows you all of the editing actions you have completed so far and enables you to return to an action and re-edit from that particular stage by simply clicking on the action in which you wish to return to. It is essentially a faster and more effective way of ‘undoing’ your work. To view this section, simple go to “Workspace”, then click on “History”. This will bring up another pop-up window, which you can also drag and drop into a desired location.

I hope both of these simple introductions to Photoshop 12 have been helpful for the soon to be beginner and student geniuses of Photoshop.

To purchase the new Adobe Photoshop 12 software (including Adobe Elements 12 Organiser), please visit the Adobe website.

To find out more about Holly and her photography, take a look at her blog

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