What you capture in a camera does not always reflect the moment you seek to express. That is where photo editing comes in. Editing images in Photoshop allows a second chance to get your images right. And that opportunity is invaluable to a photographer.
If you are becoming a photo enthusiast, you are likely to spend a great deal of time editing your photos in Photoshop. And if you seek a professional career in photography, editing is an integral part of the industry. Post-processing transforms substandard images into professional ones that are worthy of publishing.
Photoshop is an excellent tool to post-process your images and make them look perfect.
Every professional photographer worth their salt post-processes their photos before publishing them. Even the best photographers in the world cannot always capture photos that look exactly as they want. Most professional photographers will edit their photos in Photoshop at some point before publishing them.
Photoshop has earned respect as the gold standard in the industry. The application uses a layer-based editing system that can be complex to learn and use. But most images need only basic editing adjustments. It is thus worth investing time into learning these excellent must-have tools.
If you want to learn how to edit photos in Photoshop, read on for these great tools and tips.
Easy Tips for Editing Photos in Photoshop
Exposure Adjustments – Brighten and Darken Images
You may struggle to get perfect exposure, even after all the necessary camera adjustments. Luckily, you can adjust exposures with several basic tools that correct this. You can find these three tools in the Adjustments panel, under the Image area of your controls:
These straightforward adjustments allow you to move an arrow on a slide. The first two settings default to the middle of the slide.
- Toggle the arrow (also known as a carrot) left or right to see what reducing or adding exposure will look like.
- Experiment with each of them to combine effects and find your perfect levels.
- Don’t forget to save your choices.
If you know how to read histograms, you can make even finer, more precise adjustments. To really learn how to edit photos in Photoshop start using control options such as Curves, Levels, and HDR Toning. These helpful tools help bring out details and give depth and clarity to the subject.
To adjust exposure for only certain parts of an image, you can use either the Dodge or the Burn tool.
- The Dodge tool allows you to add highlights or brighten in specific spots.
- The Burn tool allows you to darken targeted areas.
Select the area(s) that you want to darken or brighten and choose the appropriate tool for the task at hand.
To find these tools, select the icon that looks like a sponge. Right-click to see the options and choose the tool you need. You can also choose whether you want to apply the effect to the highlights, mid-tones, or shadows.
In many situations, a crop is all you need to make a dramatic difference in your image. Basic cropping is one of the easiest editing tools in Photoshop, and it can do wonders for image composition. One of the best features of the crop tool is its ability to take unnecessary elements out of the frame.
You can also use this tool to draw the eye to a subject. For example, an image crop will remove a large amount of background by making the subject larger. Be sure to start with a high-resolution image to avoid pixelation.
Your composition may also look better with more emphasis on the subject’s features. Experiment with different crops and find the composition that looks most appealing. You can safely crop images without losing proportions in Photoshop.
Adjusting your camera’s white balance is crucial to good photos. An incorrect white balance can lead to color casts that make the photo appear off. It can affect the saturation, contrast, and vibrance of your shot. If you have forgotten to do it in-camera, you will need to correct this during post-processing.
Assume that your photo has a cool, blue tinge to it. Photoshop’s Color Balance tool will add warmth and bring your image back into balance. You can adjust the highlights and mid-tones, as well as any shadows in the image. You can also use Selective Color to choose a particular color and adjust only that. For example, if your subject’s skin has a reddish tinge, you can use Selective Color to bring it back to neutral.
Remember to create a Photo Filter Change Layer to preserve the original composition. You can enable this layer by navigating to Image, then Adjustments, then Photo Filter. This provides a mask where you can make changes without affecting the original image.
The Measure tool is another simple edit that can make a world of difference to the quality of your photos.
First, select the Measure tool from your palette. If you can’t see it, right-click on the Eyedropper icon to select the Ruler. Now find the line in your photo that isn’t straight. It may be a wall, a table, or a horizon. Click on one end to start the ruler and draw it until you reach the other end. Click once more to stop the line.
Now, you can find out the angle of this line on the rest of the image. Go to Image in the menu bar, and then choose Rotate Canvas or Image Rotation and select Arbitrary. The tool will fill in the measurements. Click on OK.
Now straighten the image on that line. The tilted photo will cause some white canvas to appear on the sides. Get rid of them using the Crop Tool. You now have a straight image.
Selective Corrections – Spot Healing, Blurring, Sharpening
There are times when imperfections will appear in your image. This can be a stain on a subject’s clothing, blemishes on the face, or even an unwanted object in the background. In some situations, dust particles may also appear in your photos. You can use the Spot Healing Brush tool to remove these elements.
Sometimes, even images that are in perfect focus can use a little sharpening. If you want to create a nice depth of field effect, the Blur tools can help achieve this effect.
Another powerful way to make selective corrections is the Mask tool. You can add a mask to a certain section of the photo and apply certain effects in that area alone. For example, if you want the photo to be black and white, with a small section in color, this is a great tool for that effect.
Retouching in Photoshop
Sometimes an unwanted element finds its way into your camera frame. For example, a photo of a beautiful home with a garden hose across the driveway. The Clone Stamp tool can remove the garden hose.
The Clone Stamp Tool copies pixels from one part of an image to another. You can copy the area of the driveway with no garden hose and clone stamp it over the part of the driveway that does.
To use this tool, select the Clone Stamp icon (in the shape of a head and shoulders) on your Essentials toolbar in Photoshop. Use the Options bar to customize (Size, Hardness, and Blending) and reach the desired effect. Sometimes you will need a smaller size brush for finer detail. Other times, you can cover a large area faster by selecting a larger size.
To start cloning, press the Alt key (Windows) or the Option key (Mac) and click the area of the image that you want to copy. This establishes a starting point from which the tool will start copying. Then, release the Alt or Option key and drag over the area where you want to replace your copied content. You can also move your tool to the desired area and click to stamp what shows within the circular area. The Clone Stamp tool will copy content from the source area and “paint” it over the new area.
There is an art to this, so play around with hardness, blending, and size effect to get the perfect results. Hardness determines the level the cloned content will blend with the surrounding pixels. The harder the brush, the more the edges of the cloned content will be hard and definite. For a softer, more blended effect, such as pillowy clouds, choose a softer brush.
Pro Tip: Be cognizant of patterns. Sometimes when editing in Photoshop with the clone stamp you want this effect. But most of the time you will not want discernible, repeating patterns in your clone work. A visible, repeating element can ruin a great photo. To ensure that no patterns will show in your image, keep resetting your source point and vary your size tool.
Using the Clone Stamp tool is a skill that takes practice, but keep working at it and soon you will be a pro.
Photoshop is widely known as a critical tool for any serious photographer. It has so much complexity and depth that even long-time experts continue to learn new skills. But these editing tools will help to get you started on a pro path. And soon you will be transforming your images from mediocre to exceptional pieces of art.
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Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.