Photo Editing With PS

Photo Editing Checklist

1) Levels Adjustment

Adjustment layers are very easy to use, are non-destructive and you can use them to alter just parts of an image.

Use a Levels adjustment to enhance the tonal range and contrast of your picture, to correct lighting or exposure. Levels will often fix dull, flat images by adding contrast. Clicking on the Levels adjustment will pop up a panel with a chart of all possible tonal values in an image, the darkest on the left, lightest on the right. Increase contrast by setting new black and white points. Next adjust the midpoint

2) Curves

An S curve increases contrast in a photo, in other words, the range of tones. The dark areas are darker the light areas are lighter.
This is a direct adjustment. It is similar to Levels but allows for even more control over the edit. It comes with a range of presets. Often “Increase Contrast” will give the desired effect. You can also decrease the impact of this edit layer using the opacity controls.

3) Shadows/Highlights

This is a direct adjustment. Use this tool to lighten shadows, darken highlights, and increase midtone contrast. You should make a copy of the photo first (Cmd J). Then you can adjust the opacity of the adjusted layer to lessen the effect if you wish.

4) Brightness/Contrast
Levels is more effective than Brightness/Contrast usually because you can control shadows, midtones and highlights independently. However, occasionally this is not the case. With Brightness/Contrast, the brightness slider is close to the Levels midtone slider. The Contrast slider is similar to the Levels’ shadows AND highlights slider.

5) Crop

Crop tool is the fourth one down on the toolbar

You can recompose an image using the crop tools. You can also simultaneously resize your image using the crop tool width and height function.

6) Sharpen

You can use the Adjust Sharpness or Unsharp Mask options under Enhance. Make a new layer with the image, Cmd J, because this is a direct edit. By making change on another layer you can easily see the impact of your sharpening and you can modify it using the opacity or the blending mode (changing it to Luminosity can minimize harsh effects of sharpen on an image.)

The term resolution refers to the number of small squares known as pixels that describe an image. Number of pixels per unit of length is called image resolution, the more pixels, the higher the resolution. (72 pixels is the standard for online use, 300 or higher for print.)

Image file formats: JPG, GIF

For the most part in this class we will always be creating images for the web. We will be working in the raw format while retouching images and then saving as JPGs or GIFs.

Short for Graphics Interchange Format, this format is best for graphics, not photography as it has a limited number of colors, 256. GIF is better than JPG for graphics with only a few distinct colors, such as line drawings and small text that is only a few pixels high. So select this option for graphics using solid blocks of color, simple title banners, icons, navigation buttons. With an animation editor, GIF images can be put together for animated images. GIF also supports transparency, where the background color can be set to transparent in order to let the color on the underlying Web page to show through. Advantages of GiFs are a small size, loss-less (does not get blurry or distorted), they can be animated, transparent, and interlaced.


This file type was developed for photographs. Whereas GIF can display 256 colors, JPG’s can display millions of colors — making it much more appropriate for the color demands of photography or very complex graphics. The JPG file type is used to compress images — to make them smaller for web usage.The information that is discarded in the compression is information that the human eye cannot detect. Unlike GIF, the JPG will lose quality as it is compressed. So, you must strike a balance between quality and file size. JPG does not work well on line drawings, lettering or simple graphics because there is not a lot of the image that can be thrown out in the lossy process, so the image loses clarity and sharpness.



Short for Portable Network Graphics, the third graphics standard supported by the Web (though not supported by all browsers like some versions of Internet Explorer). PNG was developed as a patent-free answer to the GIF format but is also an improvement on the GIF technique. An image in a lossless PNG file can be 5%-25% more compressed than a GIF file of the same image. PNG builds on the idea of transparency in GIF images and allows the control of the degree of transparency, known as opacity. Saving, restoring and re-saving a PNG image will not degrade its quality. PNG does not support animation like GIF does.

Source: Webopedia

For the most part in this class we will always be creating images for the web. In class, we will be working in the PSD — or Photoshop format — while retouching images and then saving as JPGs or GIFs.

Use Photoshop to:
Crop or resize images
Adjust tonal properties such as lightening a dark image
Color correct images
Sharpen or correct blurring
Open or save in a variety of file formats

(Click on the layout to see a larger version.)

The Adobe Photoshop workspace is highly customizable. For our initial purposes, reset the workplace to the default. On the top options bar, click the button for Workspace on the right and choose “Default Workspace

This options bar is just below the main menu on Mac computers. The thing to know about this particular part of the workspace is that it is contextual in nature. That means the options displayed will change depending on which tool you’re on. In the example image above, the options for the Selection tool are displayed. As you click through the different tools, different options pertaining to each of those tools will be given.

To open an image:

Auto Tone, Contrast, Color

Often you can get a solid result using the “auto” commands for tone, contrast, color. You can find these under Image in the menu bar.

Select one at a time and see the impact on your image. If you like it, keep it, if not, access the “history” palette where you can “undo” these actions one at a time. You can also select Adjustment>Levels and select Auto.

Edit images with adjustment layers:

For more fine-tuned control, use adjustment layers.

The history palette:

This is a very useful tool as it allows you to backtrack many steps, in case you make a change you regret.

To resize images:

Click on the image menu. The image resize option will be found under here.

Notice that there are two sections to this dialogue, the Pixel Dimensions section at the top and the Document Size at the bottom. When working purely for the Web, you can ignore the document size, since that is only for working with media that will be printed on a printer.

With the pixel dimensions section, you simply type in the values of the width. If the Constrain Proportions checkbox is checked, then when you change either the height and width the other value will change respectively based on the ratio of their dimensions. You should always leave the Constrain Proportions checked or else you will distort the photograph.

If for some reason, you cannot edit the Pixel Dimensions, that means the Resample Image is not checked. Resampling the image is a fancy way for saying that you can change the size.

Finished product:

Practice working with brightness/contrast

This image is too dark:

This image is too light:

To crop an image:

If you want to make adjustments to your photo, to frame it better or to focus on one aspect of the shot, you can trim it using the crop tool.

Once you have the image open, click on the crop tool in your tool palette.

You can confirm or cancel your crop in a number of ways. You can use the cancel icon (looks like a no-smoking circle) or the OK icon (looks like a checkmark) that is located at the top right of the options bar.

Resizing while cropping

You can resize the image as you are cropping. Essentially, you are telling Photoshop which dimensions the image should result in after your crop.

Fill in the width and height fields in the option bar while the crop tool is selected.

width: 640 px

Important! Notice the “px” suffix. This is very important, because Photoshop may default to “in”, which stands for “inches”. Generally when producing images for online use, you should stick with pixels.

You can also use some very simple keyboard shortcuts. Press Return (Enter, on a PC) to confirm your crop, or press the Esc key to cancel the crop. You can also use the mouse by double-clicking within your image to confirm the crop, or clicking on another tool, which will bring up a warning dialogue box asking you to either confirm or cancel.

The Toolbar

One thing to notice about each of these tools is the small triangle in the lower right hand corner on each of the buttons. That small arrow signifies that there is more than one tool to choose from in that button. To reveal the other options, click and hold down the button and a small window will pop up offering additional toolsThe last task you may do when retouching an image is to apply the Unsharp Mask filter. The Unsharp Mask filter adjusts the contrast of the edge detail and creates the illusion of a more focused, sharper image.

1) Choose Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen
2) In the Unsharp Mask dialog box, make sure that Preview is selected so you can see the effect of settings you adjust in the image window.(You can drag inside the preview window in the dialog box to see different parts of the image or you can zoom in or out.
3) Drag the amount slider to sharpen the image.
4) Once you are satisfied with what you see, click OK.
5) Save


There are two methods to saving a photo in Photoshop, and each has a specific purpose. One way is to use the “Save As”, the other is a special feature in Photoshop called “Save for Web & Devices”, which is used to save your images for the Web.

1) Save as: Use this method when saving your photo for archiving or if you plan to work on it later. We recommend saving the file type as a Photoshop or .PSD file, which will also save extra Photoshop-specific information about your photo.

2) Save for Web & Devices: Use this when you are ready to export your photo for publication to the Web. This feature prepares your photo for the Web and has added features that allow you to see how it will appear once it’s on a site. This ensures your photos will show up properly on the Web — and that the file sizes will be appropriate for online use.

Helpful Key Commands:

Screen capture (Mac)
Entire screen: Command+Shift+3
Cross hair selection: Command+Shift+4

New document Cmd+N
Open Cmd+O
Print Cmd+P
Save Cmd+S
Select All All Cmd+A
Copy Cmd+C
Cut Cmd+X
Paste Cmd+V
Undo/Redo Cmd+Z
Close Cmd+W
Zoom in Cmd+ +
Zoom out Cmd+ –

Also text: Editing with the iPhone

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