January 20, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 2 – Morning Coffee…Editing
Welcome to Week 2, Part 2 of our Shoot and Edit.

Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes. You can also click on the button below for tips on becoming a “Word Verification Free” blog.

Just Say No - Word Verification  
This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one shot SOOC that says “Good Morning” 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:
Morning Coffee SOOC
Building on what we learned last week (Week 1: Edit), I started 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 my dining room table with the eye dropper.
  • Pulled the recovery slider up all the way. 
  • Gave myself a little bit of fill light.
  • Increased my blacks a bit.
  • Increased my brightness.
  • Increased my contrast.
  • Increased my clarity. 
  • Increased my vibrance.

ACR Adjustment
Just making those few adjustments creates a nice clean edit (although I’m not sure I like it much more than my SOOC). I’ve included my ACR edit below. Again, if you are new to editing, I want you to continue working with the exposure, brightness and contrast within your editing program.The smallest tweaks can make a wonderful difference so don’t feel as though you have to go to any extremes.
Morning Coffee ACR
Now, if you’re interested in an advanced edit…keep reading. 

Beyond my edit in Adobe Camera Raw, I brought my photo over to Adobe CS5 (also known as Photoshop). I thought it would be helpful to build on the steps I shared with you last week. So…this week, I’d like to introduce the concept of using LAYER MASKS

Layer masks are a great way to concentrate the adjustments of a layer on one aspect of the photo. A black layer mask will hide all adjustments made to a layer until a white brush is used to paint on the effect. A white layer mask will reveal all adjustments made to a layer – a black brush can be used to paint off the effect. Come again? 
  • BlACK layer mask = Use WHITE brush to paint on.
  • WHITE layer mask = Use BLACK brush to paint off.
I still haven’t learned how to make video tutorials (just haven’t had time), but I found a bunch of videos on YouTube that explained how to use layer masks (FYI: YouTube is an excellent source for video tutorials). Gimp Tutorial: Layers and Layer Masks:

Now, for Photoshop Elements, most of the videos I found on YouTube worked with fake layer masks. I personally feel that this approach is a bit confusing. I find it much easier to work with a Layer Mask action. Rita over at The Coffeeshop Blog offers an incredible layer mask action for free. Click HERE to download her action (if you need instructions for downloading and installing actions, click HERE).

Alright, now that you have all the right tools, let’s get started. Although I performed my edit in Adobe C25, 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 (go to FILTER [at the top of your screen]>Other>High Pass Filter). I typically apply the high pass filter at a radius of 15 pixels. I then applied a soft light blending mode to the layer. If you missed it last week, 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. 
  • Created a new adjustment layer – CURVES. If you are in PSE, Curves Adjustments are not a default setting. However, like the layer mask, you can download an action to simulate the effect. I recommend GRANTS TOOLS for Photoshop Elements. He also includes a layer mask action.  I will tell you that I prefer a manual adjustment when working with curves – the auto controls aren’t always accurate.
  • Created a new adjustment layer – LEVELS. In this case, I pulled the left side (shadows) of the graph to a 20 to increase the darkness of the shadow. I then pulled my mid-tones (the middle bar) up to a 1.32 to brighten up the coffee mug. I used a layer mask to erase some of the adjustment from the shadow.  
Before you get any more confused, let me show you what you should be looking at. This is what my layers and layer masks look like in CS5. You’ll notice that you can find your adjustment layers at the top of your palette and you’ll find layer masks at the bottom.
Layers in CS5
In Photoshop Elements, it’ll look just a little bit different but the concept is the same. Once you download your layer mask action, you’ll find it in your effect palette. It’ll look like any other action. To apply it, select the layer you want to work on and double click. Easy Peasy. In the image on the right, I’ve circled where you can find your adjustment layers. As you see, layer masks work exactly the same way as they do in Cs5. And, as I understand it, it works the same way in Gimp too.
Layer Mask Action - PSE   Layers in PSE
Alright…back to my steps:
  • Created 2 new adjustment layers – BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST. In one I focused on the coffee cup and in the other, I focused on the shadow.
  • Created a new adjustment layer – HUE/SATURATION. I toned down the yellow (it’s habit).
  • 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 lighter preset and then lowered the opacity to 10%. Let’s be honest, I didn’t really need this adjustment, but I was playing with all of my options.
  • 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).
  • Create a new adjustment layer – PHOTO FILTER: warming filter.
  • Created a new layer and filled it with a soft pink – set the blending mode to screen and lowered the opacity to 8%.
Morning Coffee FINAL RS
So… I may have gone a little overboard. I certainly could gone through fewer steps but I want to encourage you to experiment with your adjustment layers and also experiment with layer masks. It is not necessary for you to follow my exact steps. 

I will point out that I left out a couple of steps. Once I got through my adjustment layers, I realized that my background was off. I wanted a clean white background, so I went back to my background layer and created a new copy. On that copy, I used my quick selection tool (if you’re not familiar with all of your tools, CLICK HERE) to select my white background. I (think) clicked CTRL+J (command+J for mac users) to separate the background into it’s own layer. I then filled it with white paint. I used a layer mask to really clean it up. This took much longer than it ever should have, but I do like the end result. I’ll have to figure out a better way to demonstrate that approach for a later date.

With that said, I have clearly made your head spin. I’ve included my SOOC with both edits below. What do you think?
IMG_1518 Compare
Now, it’s your turn. I can’t wait to see your edits. Feel free to follow my steps or just use them as inspiration. 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 says “good night” to you.

By the way, if you have ANY questions…feel free to contact me directly. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner. I recognize that each of you are working with different photos so the steps required may be a little different.

Good to Wow


    Thank you for sharing, beautiful!
    Greetings and kisses.

    I really like something about all 3. Thanks for the tutorial!

    Great tutorial! I was really hoping to be able to play with mine before heading to work….but no time. :) maybe tonight.

    Awesome tutorial! #3 is magazine worthy! gorgeous edit Ashley!

    Hugs and blessings today! Looking forward to seeing everyones edits!

    Looks like I reach out and touch it! Gorgeous!

    Neat as!

    so fabulous Ashley!!!! thanks bunches for the tips, editing in Raw is an easy blast! Love what you did & how you made the shimmers of light really pop in the last image, great work girl! Happy Thursday :)

    I love how clean your new shot looks!!

    Coffeeshop did a tutorial a couple days ago about doing a quick whitening of a background. It’s here: http://www.thecoffeeshopblog.com/2011/01/coffeeshop-backdrop-fix-action-and.html

    Great tutorial, Ashley!! Love all the helps/links you provided! I’ll be checking them out today (got a snowday! yay!).

    And is it bad that out of all of them, I prefer the SOOC shot??? lol!! The final edit is cool – and I do like it – but (for my tastes) the background almost seems too solid white??? But I can see how using a solid white layer could be helpful… :)

    Have a great day!

    Awesome edit goes without saying :)

    Thank you for the tutorial Ashley.

    Great tutorial – thank you! I love your edit, it really makes the green mug pop!

    Love that edit.. but I loved the SOOC with the shadows of the blind as well… You are amazing.

    Is it okay to love them all? I can’t pick, they are all great. Your tutorial is fabulous and very helpful. Thanks for all your sweet words. I really appreciate it and I’m lucky to have you!!! (sappy, I know)

    Have a great today!


    The shot is amazing from the start, and each has a different feeling to it. I like them all too. The first is so soft and real. The second is more crisp and vibrant. And the last just jumps right out and begs for tea. You know? :)

    I have lightroom but your first steps and histogram etc work really well with lightroom so thankyou, great edits and I love your final one.

    Wow, what an amazing shot Ashley, even the sooc is fabulous!

    I love your final. the nice clean background.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge. i appreciate you sharing the steps for the different editing versions.

    The SOOC shot was great! But I love how bright and happy your edit is!!

    Hooray! You have amazingly answered at least a dozen of my editing question in this one post. And made a really cool photo on the process. Can’t wait to try some of this at home later.

    A beautiful edit, Ashley! It’s so great to have a before/after comparison!

    Very nice edit! Love the finished product.

    So much fun to see what your pp looks like.

    Lovely edit. Thank you for the tutorial!

    Oh geez… this is fantastic! I read it like 3 times. I can’t believe all the work you put in to this; thank you SO much! I’m still loving your #1 tip from last week too. GREAT job & thank you!

    I need this program! Love the edit, it’s so bright and cheery! xx

    Wow. I am amazed at your willingness to share. At the very least people will have an appreciation for the knowledge and work that goes into editing.

    Ashley, here is another way to adjust your background layer that you may find a bit easier.

    Go to Image-Adustments-Replace Layer.

    Once there pick white for your background color. Slide up the fuzziness slider until the amount of background is selected to your liking. Then adjust the lightness. You can get a bright white that way. Click okay.

    Once that is done you may see that the objects in the photo are a bit blown out. That’s when you use a layer mask to paint some of that white out.

    I did this the other day and it is super easy.

    Great edits, by the way! :)

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I loved the SOOC shot, but really liked the last Photoshop edit as well, it so crisp and bright.

    Wow I’ll have to go through your steps later, thanks! And love the edit!

    Great explanation! Love your final edit & I love your coffee cup. Green is my new favorite color these days. :)

    The final edit is spectacular!

    Love this one! So cute! I’ll have to try to get a theme-worthy photo for next week!


    that looks amazing I will do mine soon today.

    I love how you created that white background – perfect!

    Great tutorial…you are so good at writing them! I love your edits…love that green too. It goes in my kitchen!

    I do like the first edit – I think the blind? lines are cool. :) But, the shadow is so much sharper in the final. Really like how it turned out. :)

    Love the advanced tips. Thanks! Your edits are great – a dramatic difference, though the shot is very simple and clean. Awesome.

    Ashley, I have been sick as heck for a week and am just now getting back to my favorite blogs and I have apparently missed a ton over here! Love the header and can’t wait to be able to sit down and concentrate on your posts.

    What a beautifully clean edit. Love!

    thanks Ashley for the heads up on the magic wand trick, I had forgotten all about that. I cam in handy for my photo this week.

    BTW could you do a tutorial on how to post photos on a blog that are side by side? Like how and what you do to get your 3 photo spread as in the SOOC, Basic and final photo?

    Your photo is really clean, sharp and beautiful.

    You were right, this weeks edit was perfect for my photo!
    I love your edit, by the way.

    Wow the final result is Outstanding!!! Love how the shadow lets your eyes travel straight to the cup!!! ;)

    I really like the way the final edit looks, it’s great!

    Very nicely done and explained!!! I’ll have to come back to it and try it. I wish I had more hours in the day !!!!!!!!

    You are doing such a GREAT job with the tutorials! Thank you for doing this…I am learning to use CS5 a better because it! =)

    Okay. I really will have to revisit this. Thanks for sharing your steps! I love how your final edit turned out.

    nice mug shot and tutorial! i love how you are so awesome with photo edits!

    LOVE your SOOC but REALLY love the final edit…so simple & gorgeous! Practiced your steps MANY times, and finally started to understand their value. I think I’m going to try a shot similar to yours, using ALL of your steps to see the impact. The only thing I was fuzzy on was making the background totally white & adding the pink. Otherwise, I think I got most of it! Many thanks!! :)

    What a great tutorial! Thanks for putting so much time and effort in this! I’ve learned a lot and will
    soon join in…

    I love the final look! It is crisp and clean :D I really need to start trying to understand all your editing lingo – so far it just sounds like a whole different language :D

    Thanks Ashley, I’m loving this S&E idea! Also I love how on your levels and brightness/contrast the part you erased looks like a heart!I don’t know why but that caught my eye.

    Thanks for the comment, Ashley. Have you seen Susan Keller’s article “Pondering Lightroom vs Photoshop“? It pretty much sums up my feelings about the 2 software. If I were a pro photographer, I’d definitely use PSE or CS to edit my images as it has way more fine tuning capabilities.

    Thank you so much for sharing what you know about editing. I’m learning so much from you.

    I definitely need to try this. Thanks for sharing