learning photo editing

I’m taking an online class at jessicasprague.com to learn some simple photo editing to make my pictures look better. We’ve only had a couple of lessons so far but I have learned a couple of things already that have made the class very valuable to me.

Did you know that you can edit jpeg photos as if they are raw photos using the Adobe Camera Raw plug in that comes with Photoshop Elements? I didn’t even know I had that plug in (or any plug ins for that matter!) You can adjust for white balance and change the exposure of the image – it’s certainly not the only way to correct these things, but it seems to work really well, and it’s fast.

I have a bunch of photos that I printed recently for a (secret) project without realizing they were muddy and greenish, so with these techniques I was able to brighten and lighten and color correct them. When I reprinted them they looked much better!

Yesterday the second lesson was about converting to black and white using layers and the screen and overlay modes. I watched the video but I didn’t try it out right away. It looked like a simple way to do a color conversion with a lot of flexibility, and it is non-destructive editing, so you can adjust each element of what you’ve done.

Today the challenge was to do the same type of edits on a color photo. I found one of my favorite photos from Lizzie’s wedding and played around with it and this is what I got:

lizziecomparisonlowresI played around with the opacity of the layers and turned layers on and off so I could see their effects. I started with the picture on the left which is either straight from the camera or slightly adjusted in iPhoto. The first version I made was the bright one on the right. I had to turn the screen and soft light layers down to only 20-30% opacity because I thought the effect came out too strong at first but I think I found a happy balance. Then I thought I should try the black and white recipe so I removed the color from my background copy layer and discovered that I had created a soft colored version by accident. How? The screen and overlay layers were copies of the color layer and so when I turned the background black and white it blended nicely into a washed out vintage look. I had to readjust the screen and overlay opacity to get some color back into the photo. I really like my happy accident. Then I turned off the color layers and did yesterday’s lesson to create a black and white version.

Overall, I like the brightness of these pictures. The process was pretty simple (I did the b&w conversion from memory, hopefully correctly!) and I can see that the results are very flexible – if you like overexposed bright pictures you can do that. If you prefer more grey/midtones, you can keep them. I like bright light pictures, but not too blown out. I’m afraid they might look forced, fake or dated in the future. But I really don’t like muddy dull pictures. I think I’m going to have to edit some of my favorite pictures to lighten the exposure and bring out the happy…

What do you think? Which one do you like the best?


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2 Responses to learning photo editing

  1. Hi Jo – I’m taking the Jessica Sprague class too. I love it! I like your fourth photo. Bright and soft. Great job!

    • Thanks for coming to take a look, Dianne! The subject of the photo preferred the 4th one too. So I guess that means I was fairly successful. I’m learning a lot from this class. It takes a lot of trial and error to get this stuff the way you like it – but Jessica’s methods are so flexible. btw your little girl is very cute! I like your snapshots.

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