Before & After
I’ve been meaning to edit this photo for Salina for nearly a month. So, as I watch America’s Got Talent…with a crick in my neck (can someone come over and rub my neck?), I thought I’d work on this photo in time to link up with Karli over at The Bonnie 5 for Touch Up Tuesday. Here is Salina’s original photo.
DSC_7821 Before and After
Don’t you just love her daughter with the firefighter’s hat? Well, Salina did too, but didn’t like the clutter in the background. I was going to have trouble completely removing it without looking too fake, but I think I’ve improved the look. Here’s my steps: 
  1. I started this photo in Adobe Camera Raw to correct the white balance and exposure. 
  2. I then opened the photo in Photoshop Elements 7 and ran Amy McMaster’s Squeaky Clean. I don’t think I did anything too special, but if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I usually pull up my levels to add a little more BRIGHT to my photos. 
  3. I cropped the photo to eliminate some of the mess on the left side of the photo. I did try to use other methods to eliminate the distractions, but it looked sloppy so I went with the crop instead. 
  4. From there, I created a duplicate layer (this is how I save my steps), merged my layers and then created two duplicates of my background copy (ctrl J). On the first layer, I used the dodge tool to brighten her face. One the second layer, I set the blending mode to soft light and lowered the opacity to 50%. I then opened a brightness/contrast adjustment layer to lower the brightness by -6 and add +12 contrast.
  5. Again, I duplicated the photo (just right click and duplicate photo). 
  6. And again, I created two duplicates of the background copy. On the first layer, I used a Gaussian blur filter (and I’m sorry, I didn’t write down the amount) and set the blending mode to soft light…the opacity to 20%. On the next layer, I set the blending mode to overlay at 20%. I then opened an adjustment layer to slightly adjust the layers. 
  7. On another duplicate of the photo (after merging of course – ctrl, shift, E), I opened up RVT Tan (a texture) by Shadowhouse Creations and laid it on top of the photo. I set the blending mode to multiply and the opacity to 74%. 
  8. Finally, on my final duplicate of the photo, I ran Pioneer Woman’s Seventies action (I secretly love this action…okay, it’s not a secret). I lowered the opacity to 40%. I then added a texture called GoodBook by Shadowhouse Creations, set the blending mode to Soft Light at 30% opacity and called it a day…I mean night.
A few things to remember about my editing steps: 
  • Lowering your opacity is key. I DO use actions, but I always adjust them because if you apply them straight on, they can often be too much. 
  • I also love using textures to enhance a photo. Remember to use layering masks to remove some of that texture from the face/body of your subjects.
So, do you love it…hate it…? What did I miss? Let me know if you have questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. Also, if you find yourself struggling with your post-processing or editing and would like me to help you (and teach you in the process), I am always accepting photo challenges. Just go to my Contact Me page and send me a message. You can even attach your photos (and if you’re having trouble, just send me an email, and we’ll make an exchange). Once I’m done with your edit, I’ll send you back the high-resolution file and then blog the results with steps.

Now with all that said, I’m going to bed. Do me a favor, click on the button below and visit my friend Karli! Have a great night!


    OK, I think this might be my favorite edit that you have ever done. Really. Absolutely incredible. It literally looks like there’s light shining on her face! How did you do that??!! (That’s a rhetorical question; I read your steps)…but seriously. That’s awesome. Perfect amount of everything in my opinion.

    Do I need to say again how you take a snaphot and turn it into art?

    And you just squeaked in with 2 hours to spare – HA! Had fun chatting with you today! :-)

    Love it!

    I must get Photo Shop. I got a Mac and never replaced Photo Shop and now I’m having some major withdrawals.


    just found your blog today and i am in love. I just got photoshop a few weeks ago so this helps out a ton! :) That is such a fun moment I love random non-posed photos they are so much more like reality.
    Cute blog!

    what a great photo! I love what you’ve done with it!

    I love the photo! Everything you did to it is great! I didn’t really understand a thing about what you did, but then again I haven’t really played around much with photoshop. I am going to check out your tutorials!

    Love the PP, I’m always struggling to brighten up the face realistically and here you’ve done and amazing job. :)

    I just stumbled across your blog, from another site..and i love it :) You take wonderful pictures :) I love this shot, the expression is just TOO cute!

    If you get the chance, please stop by my photoblog at

    Have a beautiful Wednesday!

    K xx

    What a cute photo. I really like your edit. It’s very sweet and really emphasizes her playfulness. I did not realize you could do all that with PSE7. Your PPing skills are awesome.

    amazing. i am one step closer to getting photoshop. i’ve been whining about it for months now. i think you just pushed me over the edge.

    great job! I love how you were able to make the background less of a focal point and brightened up the whole picture.

    Ashley, thanks for the info about PS elements. That’s what I was thinking of doing based on advice from a few people (and now you too!). My Hub may be able to get me CS4 at a reduced price, but if not it will be elements for me. Thanks!

    Aww…those are so cute! The little girl reminds me of my two year old sister who loves to have her picture taken. =) This is my first visit to your blog but I like the photography you have here already. What kind of camera do you use?

    i need photoshop 101 skills bad!! that picture looks amazing! also, i love your header and your pic that shows up in your profile, how did you make that?

    You did a great job fixing this photo. Love the texture and actions you applied.

    I’m going to try this… I’ve always wanted instructions, but didn’t know who to ask. I have to get into a photography class…
    Beautiful transformation – I looks incredible!

    Adorable shot!! And I love the edit. The texture adds so much to the photo. Great lighting, too.

    I love this photo and edit!

    i love the end result! you are so talented, seriously!