February 09, 2010
Before & After
Each week, as part of a photography board in which I participate, we’re given a couple of photos that need a little editing help. If you’re a fan of I Heart Faces‘ “Fix-It Friday,” then you’re already familiar with the process. This week, one of the girls gave us quite the challenge. In this first one, we were asked to fix a back-lit, under-exposed photograph of an adorable little girl (her daughter).  
I thought it’d be helpful to share my “recipe.” Here’s what I did to achieve my after: 
  1. I adjusted the levels and s-curve to brighten the image (to be honest, I may have blown it out a little too much, but I like my photographs brighter).
  2. I did some light corrections on her face using Coffeeshop’s Baby Powder Room. I was careful to lower each layer’s opacity so that she still looked natural.
  3. I added Coffeeshop’s Golden Vintage – again adjusting each layers opacity so it wasn’t too golden or vintagy. 
  4. I adjusted the saturation levels of my yellow, red and magenta to warm it up a bit. 
  5. I added 2 vignettes – I’m not even sure you can really tell since I layer them so lightly that it creates a nice frame.
This second photo’s challenge was to adjust the underexposure and clean up a wrinkled background. 
Here’s my recipe for this second photo: 
  1. First, I selected the background and gave it a gaussian blur to correct a wrinkled backdrop. I suppose I could have added texture, but I kept it simple.
  2. Again, I adjusted the levels and s-curve to brighten the image. 
  3. Then, I used Coffeeshop’s Baby Powder Room to clean up her face a little. As with the first photo, I was careful to adjust the opacity on each layer so she still looked natural. 
  4. Next, I did a little dodge and burn action (made tonal adjustment, added a layer mask, revealed adjustment layer and painted the area I wanted to lighten – which in this case, was mostly the right side).
  5. I added Coffeeshop’s Color Pop and adjusted opacity levels (sometimes it gives too much pop). 
  6. Finally, I added a light vignette to frame out the picture. 
One of these days, I’ll include screen shots with instructions, but hopefully this gives you a little insight into how I go about editing a photograph. I’m open to constructive criticism if you have any, or if you have other approaches that I should learn – I still have a lot to learn! By the way, if you want to see larger images of either set, just click on the picture – it won’t be the best resolution since I’ve uploaded it using blogger, but you get the idea.

Until next time,


    Thanks for posting all your steps!

    Thanks for posting this info. Just curious, what editing softward do you use? I just got PSE, but I haven’t opened it yet…it seems a little overwhelming. But those edits you did look great, so I might have to start learning how to use it!

    I do use PSE and it can be quite overwhelming at first. I found that by identifying other styles that I liked and then hunting down the approach to achieving that style, that I became more familiar with how to edit my own photos. Tutorials can be great but I often learn best through trial and error.

    Love the second photo, so cute! You did a great job on them Ashley.

    Take Care, Melissa