January 13, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 1 – A Touch of Snow…Editing
Welcome to Part 2 of our first Shoot and Edit weekly challenge.

Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes.

This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one shot SOOC that says “winter” to you (this was just a suggestion, you can show us any SOOC shot). Hopefully you linked up with Jill’s blog earlier this week.

Each Thursday, I will take my SOOC shot and provide some basic editing tips (I will try to keep it basic and work my way up). You can then try these tips on your own photos and link up here. If you’d prefer,  can simply share your own edit and show us what you did to achieve the look. We want this challenge to be a learning experience, so feel free to teach us something new too! Also, it does not matter what editing program you use. Although I tend to work within Adobe CS5 (Photoshop), Photoshop Elements and Adobe Camera Raw…it does not mean that you have to use the exact same program. I hope you’ll be able to take the concepts and apply them in the program you feel most comfortable using.

Once again, here is my SOOC shot:Touch of Snow SOOC
As I mentioned before, I wanted to start simple….so, I’m starting this edit in Adobe Camera Raw. Regardless of what editing program you’re working in, you should have some of the basic functionality that Adobe Camera Raw offers. Below, I’ve copied my SOOC data and the revisions I made in Adobe Camera Raw. Here’s what I did:
  • Created a custom white balance by selecting the white of the snow with the eye dropper. I then tweaked it by eye.
  • Bumped up the exposure just a touch.
  • Pulled the recovery slider up. 
  • Dropped my blacks a bit.
  • Increased my brightness.
  • Increased my contrast.
  • Decreased my saturation.
Adobe Camera Raw Data - Snow
Just making those few adjustments creates a nice clean edit. I’ve included my edit below. If you’re new to editing, I encourage you to try adjusting the exposure, brightness and contrast within your editing program. Touch of Snow ACR
I should warn you that most editing programs offer an “Auto” option. Sometimes selecting auto works perfectly but in this case, it over-exposes the snow and creates unnecessary noise as seen below…thus the reason that I performed a manual edit in Adobe Camera Raw.
Touch of Snow Auto ACR
The auto edit actually reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my coworkers. He was of the impression that professional photographers have it made. In so many words, he claimed that all photographers require is a camera. He then claimed that very little editing is done because “photographers just have some sort of auto program that they send photos through.” I suppose I could have jumped on my soup box, but I didn’t bother. Had I simply put my photo through an auto edit, it would have been a waste. Anyways, enough of my rambling. 

If you’re interested in an advanced edit…keep reading. 
Touch of Snow Final RS
Beyond my edit in Adobe Camera Raw, I brought my photo over to Adobe CS5 (also known as Photoshop). Most of my steps can also be performed in Photoshop Elements. Here are my steps:
  • Created a duplicate of my background. I applied a high pass filter (found under FILTER at the top of the screen). I then applied a soft light blending mode to the layer. This is my #1 favorite trick to make the details of your image pop. You can lower the opacity if needed and/or use a layer mask to erase part of the effect (I’ll touch on layer masks another week). 
  • Created a new adjustment layer – LEVELS. I pulled the left side (shadows) of the graph to a 5 – this makes my blacks just a tad bit darker. I normally pull the middle bar (midtones) up to a 1.38 to brighten up an image, but that was not necessary here. 
  • Created a new adjustment layer – COLOR BALANCE (this adjustment layer is not available in Photoshop Elements, but you can do something very similar by adjusting your Saturation). You can see my adjustments below:
Color Balance
    • Created an adjustment layer: BLACK AND WHITE (in Photoshop Elements, you’ll want to use a background copy then go to Enhance>Convert to Black and White). I used an infared preset and then lowered the opacity to 12%. 
    • Created an adjustment layer: BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST. My brightness went to -1 and contrast increased to +8. 
    • Finally, I applied Totally Rad’s Lux action at 70%. For a similar effect…you can create a new fill layer – fill it with a shade of cream or light pink, set the blending mode to screen and lower the opacity. 
    Let’s see the three edits side by side: 
    Touch of Snow Compare
    Not to overwhelm you, but I always resize and sharpen for the web. I know there are a few freebie actions that do this for you, I prefer to use the unsharp mask. I’ll touch on this another time but sharpening for the web can make a huge difference in how your images appear on your blog. 

    With that said, link up your edits below. I look forward to seeing what you’ve done. The linky will be up through Saturday. And don’t forget to come back on Monday with your SOOC shots. We’d love to see one SOOC shot that reflects a “good morning.”

    Good to Wow


      Great job Ashley! Love how you’re going over everything you did step-by-step. Very helpful.


      Ashley this was awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain things so everyone can learn from you!

      Your edit is beautiful just by doing those simple changes! Gorgeous!

      Hugs and blessings today!

      Great job! And yay, I guess it’s time to get started on mine…:)

      Wow!! Love your detailed instruction! It’s easy to go “overboard” when editing, and I just love how you kept it to the minimum so that mother nature’s beauty can just shine on its own :) Loving the new “look” too! I just switched some things around on my blog…must be the new year!

      Good to wow indeed..

      So very cool!

      And, I love the new header.

      That’s it, I definitely need photoshop. Editing things in picnik is fun, but I don’t have as much creative control. I love your step by step instructions–very easy to follow and recreate on your own!

      Great edit and explanation! Love the screen shots – it’s so helpful to have a visual to go along with the written instructions!

      I’ll have you know I used your tips (or what I could either understand or do on elements) with my edit this morning (because I’m all about imitation as flattery etc, or just plain old copycatting). I like how it turned out. Not the usual thing I do, but I might definitely have to incorporate these tips into some of my photos from now on. Love it!

      Great edit! I’m going to try this out in Raw, I’m never patient enough to tweek all the details lol.

      Thanks for the edit info Ashley – it really helps me a lot. Great photo too!

      And, your coworker obviously does not know diddly squat about photography or editing! :)

      You’re so wonderful at explaining your steps! Beautiful edit!!!!

      Thank you for the great tutorial. Even though I don’t have a lovely outdoor snow shot (sniff, sniff-jealous!), I did learn where several functions were in PSE and was able to enhance my SOOC image. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for next week!

      Wow, this is such a cool concept for a photo!

      great job in your explanations. i am going to try out some new stuff. before i just kinda went with the flow of things and finished with what i liked.

      i just posted about a photo contest you may or may not be interested in. great prizes to the top 4 winners!

      Thanks for sharing! I did learn something new!!

      Thank you for sharing your steps!I always learn something from your edits!

      OK, I knew this was going to be good…but woweeee! This is beyond. Thanks so much for going thru all your steps. I know you’ve mentioned that high pass filter (soft light) step before, but it never really stuck until just now. I tried it on a picture and am in LOVE. I guess I have to hear things over and over before I get it. (Also, I figured out that your trick is the EXACT same as MCP’s Crackle action – I thought that was cool that you knew the behind the scenes trick. I had no idea. Yours gave a similar effect so I compared the two – and yep, identical. Smarty!!)

      I really need to get more comfortable with ACR. I guess I know my way around CS4 better, and feel like I can do all the stuff there. But when I see an edit like this, I re-think that. One thing that bugs me about ACR, there are no masks. Or are they and I don’t know where they are? I am a mask fanatic, and I always feel like when I do an action, I mask off some part of it…

      I love TRA’s lux. One of my most used actions. OK, I’ve cluttered up your comment section enough. Thanks so much for this, and have a great one!

      like the new look… I am not done with mine I have to go to work and was having last night computer problems… so stayed tuned.

      Thanks for the tips! I shared my own edit this time but I’m going to sit down and redo my edit later tonight with your tips when I’m not on my laptop. This is such a fun challenge, thank you for doing this!!!

      Ashley ~ Thank you so much for your simple explanations!! I’ve been to so many site tutorials that don’t break it down simply for simple people like me! ;) Your edit turned out beautifully!

      This is great! Your edit is beautiful and you really broke it down so perfectly. Nice job!

      I just found out about your new photo challenge! Love it!

      Love the new header! Great edits here and thanks for sharing your “recipe.” :)

      You are SO good at walking people through your steps!! I need to take a few lessons from you! He he.

      Ohhhhh so cool! Thanks for posting it step by step! Great edits and the finishing product is amazing! Ps. I THINK I fixed my post so you can see the pictures, let me know if it’s working! Thanks! xo

      Great tips! I hope to join in the challenge next week, I need to definetely work on my editing skills.

      Great edit Ashley – I never do as much as this to an edit so it was great fun following your workflow and seeing how you do things while making the dinner at the same time. I’ll post my finished edit after dinner.

      I’m learning so much through your blog! I’m truly enjoying seeing what everyone did…& I’m mad I forgot to participate in this :P Next week!

      I’m not anonymous LOL – I must have pressed the wrong button.

      beautiful work! just got my camera so I need to learn all these things!

      I love your tips! Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful shot you captured!

      Great job, Ashley! Love the before and afters and how you used two different programs to show the difference.

      Your tips are great. Thank you so much! I learned something new with the High Pass filter! That’s a fantastic tip.

      The edits are just amazing. The photo is REALLY nice! I just love the depth.

      I’m loving how my photo turned out! Thanks for helping to explain how to adjust a photo manually. It makes such a big difference! I’m off to go try it out on a few other winter photos. Can’t wait for next week’s challenge. Thanks again!

      First, the new header is fantastic!
      Second; I always leave your blog filled with excitement & new skills, so that means I’m over-the-top excited with your new ‘Shoot With – Edit With’ series. I’m planning on jumping in; probably week after next!
      :) & <3

      Awesome job, Ashley!!!

      Love love love this.. and what you and Jill are doing… Love it! ( did I say that already//) Maybe i am gonna load that photoshop after all…maybe i will jsut sit back and watch all of the great entries and wish..

      The guy you work with sounds like my husband. according to him, anyone can take a picture.

      Thanks so much for that. I tryed new things and it deffernly made a better photo. Looking fawered to next weeks.

      I realy should try suing RAW images, I did take a few but can’t open in photoshop (I don’t have adobe photoshop RAW) But I do have the disk that came with the camra. Maybe I have to try out that soft where. Needs to find the disks.

      I am only just starting up photography, so found your post very helpful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing

      First off, NEED to tell you how grateful I feel to have found you and this amazing community of TALENT! Thank you for your very easy to understand directions. I gave the advanced a go, but got stuck once I chose the soft light blending mode…didn’t know what to do next, how to get the 2 pics to merge (wrong terms I’m sure!). I just don’t know enough of the basics yet. LOVED your edits…can’t wait for next week! :)

      Awesome post! I have been behind, but you know I love the new look! Hope I catch up soon….

      Thank you for this Tutorial. It sounds so easy and I will definately try these tips. :)
      I will be following you because I really want to learn all the little tips and tricks about photography.

      Your edit looks great and the lighting is awesome to show the snow on the leaves. You did a wonderful job and I learned something about the histogram I didnt even know about that?!?! Now I feel a bit smarter ;-)!

      What a great tutorial. I love the final product, the color is just perfect, and the white snow is beautiful.

      Ashley –

      Beautiful edits – both ACR and advanced. I really like how your advanced edit was a touch ‘bluer’ (well, to me at least!) – seemed more winter-y! lol!

      Even though I looked at your post earlier, I didn’t really “read” it – just saw enough to be able to say what I did on my post. Kinda wish I would have read it a bit more thoroughly cause I’d sure love to try that high pass/soft light trick! I’ll have to make a note and try that on one of my next attempts. :)

      You explain things so well and clearly! Great tutorial!

      I love your edit! And wow, does it look great around here. I love the new header :D

      Your edit is beautiful – You would love Lightroom 3 ;o)

      Love this challenge – so I´ll be back :) – Thank you for hosting!!!!


      Loved this Ashley (and Jill)! I need to practice beyond the basic editing and your challenge is the perfect way to do that. Looking forward to next week.

      That high pass filter/soft light trick was so cool!! :D

      Now I’ve got to try to remember to do it. ;)

      I *love* how your edit turned out. :)

      You go girl!! =) no photoshop here… my hubby is about to upgrade me to a new free software to edit pics… I can’t remember the name of it?! =) Have a great weekend!

      Success! I gave your advanced tutorial another try. Thanks for the nudge. I needed it : )

      You are just an amazing photogragher.

      I love your work. Question. What is your favorite lens?

      You really taught me a lot this week with your explanation — THANK YOU!!! I’m really learning to tone down my edits & your tips helped me a lot. I can’t wait to get CS5 & seeing your edits makes me want it even more! ha :) This is a great post & your edit is awesome!

      Awesome edit! I love the final result!!

      Hmmm must have somehow missed your new challenge, probably because I am trying to back off of some. Darn you! LOL I’ll be sure to come by this Thursday (or at least attempt to)

      Great tutorial Ashley!

      Wow Ashley thanks so much for all the tips, such a help! And your new design is just gorgeous, love that you give props to Kitty Paw… hoping for more time so I can participate, but for now my boys need my attention! and thank you for all your sweet comments, they are truly appreciated :) Hope you had a great weekend girl!