February 10, 2011
Categories: Photoshop, Shoot and Edit Tags:
Shoot and Edit: Week 5, Part 2 – Hearts…Edit
Welcome to Week 5, 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 “Hearts” SOOC  shot (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:
Hearts Natural Light SOOC RS
Building on what we’ve learned in the past four weeks (Week 1: Edit, Week 2: Edit, Week 3A, Week 3B and Week 4), 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. Don’t forget to use your eye dropper to create a custom white balance – in this case, I used my white table. Below, I’ve copied my SOOC data and the revisions I made in Adobe Camera Raw. Here’s what I did:
Hearts Natural ACR
Once again (and I don’t know if I still need to say this or not)…for those of you that shoot in JPG format, but would like to use Adobe Camera Raw if you only knew how to use it (and of course, this applies to Photoshop Elements and Photoshop users). Open your program and go to OPEN AS. A pop up menu will come up. Select your image and use the drop down menu to select AS CAMERA RAW. Select open and voila!
Hearts Natural Light ACR RS
As I’ve done in previous weeks, I did edit my photo in Adobe Photoshop CS5, but I limited my edits to activities that could also be performed in Photoshop Elements. In particular, I was interested in exploring the advanced functionality of levels and using fill layers.

But before we talk about levels (or rather, you watch a short video), I should mention the steps I worked through before going into a levels adjustment.
  • I created a duplicate of my background (CTRL+J) and ran the high pass filter (with soft light blending mode). This brought out the details of the single conversation heart in front.
  • I made a slight curves adjustment (I really need to talk more about the piece – and if you know how to do it, I’m sure you’re already working this into your editing, but don’t feel like you have to worry about this function just yet). 
  • I then merged those layers by clicking (at the same time) CTRL+SHIFT+E (if you’re on a mac, replace CTRL with COMMAND).
  • I then wanted to reduce the noise in the photo, so I created a duplicate of my background (CTRL+J) and applied a Gaussian blur effect. I thought this worked really  nicely because I wasn’t worried about losing details in my background. I used a  WHITE layer mask and a black paintbrush to erase the effect from the single conversation heart in front. **TIP** On the layer itself (not the layer mask), use your Quick Selection tool to select an item that you want to paint over in your layer mask. Then Click on the layer mask and switch to a paint brush. In this case, the conversation heart is still selected and you can paint over it without affecting any other part of the image. {If you’re not sure where your quick selection tool is, CLICK HERE for the PSE Toolbar – most of the tools translate over to Photoshop.}
If you’re starting to get confused on some of the tools I’m using (quick selection, paint brush, paint bucket, etc), here’s a visual. For details on each function CLICK HERE
At this point, I moved into a levels adjustment. Watch this short video on how to effectively use your levels panel. 

For my image, I did the following: 
  • RGB Main: 0, 1.18, 255
  • Reds: 8, 1.05, 240
  • Greens: 8, 1.06, 249
  • Blues: 8, 1.14, 249
I wasn’t originally even going to provide the exact adjustments I made to my image, because each photo will be different, but levels can really help you change the amount of light that the image sees and create a different tone. And for me, I was going for soft. I encourage you to use your drop down menu and play with not only your RGB main levels, but also your Red, Green and Blue levels. Once I was done with levels, I moved on to a couple of other adjustment layers:
  • Brightness/Contrast – I increased my brightness to 20 and reduced my contrast to a -12. I’d like to say I was more scientific about it, but I wasn’t….I just wanted to increase the brightness while keeping a soft look.
  • Color Balance – this is a function only available to full Photoshop Users (and I’m not sure if it’s available to Lightroom users or not). I won’t go into too much detail now because this is another one of those steps you can ignore for now…but you have the ability to adjust the amount of cyan/red, magenta/green or yellow/blue available to your shadows, midtones and highlights. If you do  decide to play with it, minimal adjustments are usually all that is necessary so be careful with those sliders.
At this point, I wanted to apply a soft pink fill layer. Fill layers are very easy to create. If you’re a PSE user (and again, I apologize to my Lightroom users for not knowing how this works), you’ll find a small circle that is half black/half white. At the top of your layers, click on that button and use the drop down to select SOLID COLOR to create a new layer. Then use your eye dropper to select a color – I used the pink of the Adore Me heart. Use your paint bucket to fill the layer. Now you can change that layer’s blending mode to Soft Light (that’s my go to blending mode) and adjust the opacity (I lowered mine to 50%). If you can, you can duplicate that layer and apply a different blending mode, like Screen to brighten everything up. Then lower that layer’s opacity to 5%. Be sure to also use layer masks to erase part of the effect – in this case, I erase the effects from the Adore Me heart using a black brush on my white layer. Does that make sense? 

I was trying to find a decent video that better explained fill layers, but I really didn’t like my options. However, if you feel like you need just a bit more information regarding adjustment layers and fill layers, this tutorial does a nice job of explaining them.

Here is my final edit:
Hearts Natural Light Final RS
One more thing I was hoping to cover in today’s lesson that I did not is using a grid to edit your images. Really and truly, you should frame your shots in camera using this approach to compose your shots. However, when this is not possible, the grid can be a wonderful tool to  crop your images to fit. Since I did not crop my image this week, I did not use this tool, but I did want to share this functionality. The video tutorial below better describes the grid:
And if you want to know more…my friend, Kat, will be discussing the RULE OF THIRDS today on her blog as part of Exploring with a Camera. Do yourself a favor – check it out!

To recap, today we discussed the advanced use of levels, fill layers and (briefly) the grid.  For your edit, I would love to see you continuing using the lessons we’ve covered in the past four weeks as well as apply today’s lesson. With that said, here is my side-by-side comparison. I hope you found today’s lesson useful. If you have any questions or need more explanation, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Hearts Natural Light Compare
I hope you all have a great Thursday and I look forward to seeing your edits!

Good to Wow

I’m also linking up with Simplicity today since the theme is also Hearts!


    Beautiful edit…love the softness and the colors!

    love the picture and edit! =)

    Ashley ~ I love your soft, subtle edit! You had such a great SOOC shot to begin with, but I really like your edit. Thanks for all the great tips!

    I love the difference your edit makes! And thank you for another tutorial!!!!

    well done..I like your edit!

    I’m cracking myself up because I scrolled down too far and entered my link on the Kitty Paw love letters thing. Might want to just delete that. See what happens when I try to link before having coffee?

    Love your final edit! It just seems so clean and simple and I’m loving the reflection of the heart still.

    I must have missed that this was your sooc this week – I had one of these shots yesterday :) Great edit and tutorial as always. I might try a re-edit.

    Wonderful edit. Looks great!

    Love how the heart pops in your edit.

    Gorgeous, as always! Man, I really want some Valentine’s Day candy now…

    Very pretty! I like the explanations, too. :D

    You are a true photography & editing genius!!!! i love how your message hearts turned out, so crisp & perfect. and all the info you have given along with it is brilliant :)

    working on love letter to Kitty Paw but third birthday party planning keeps getting in the way or maybe it’s the almost three y/o trying to write on the wall with crayons, hehehe!!! Happy Thursday girl & as always thanks for everything you do!!!!

    thanks for your advice. I am happier with this end edit. Tonight I will come and really read this post, I am off to work and see the video clips.

    Love what a difference a few subtle changes make!

    BEAUTIFUL edit!! :)
    Thanks so much for linking up too.

    You do such a great job with the tutorials. And, I love the edit!

    Love the final edit! Thanks for sharing how you process!

    I *love* how your final edit turned out! :D Perfectly pastel.

    great edit details and wonderful tutorial. Hey Ashely you shouldn’t feel like you’ve done something wrong with this photo. You didn’t copy a unique image as at this time of year you will see this exact image on a lot of blog. No need to apologize to anyone for your creativity as the only one that holds the copyright is the manufacturer. Now that I’ve said that, thanks again for all you do and time spent in our behalf ♥Ü♥.

    You’ve finally convinced me I have to sign up for some classes. Kim K here I come.

    Thanks for another great tutorial and the links! I love your final edit – that pink heart really pops!

    Nice edit Ashley! I am getting more and more desperate for candy hearts, since there are none to be found in Italy. Thanks so much for the link back to Exploring with a Camera today! I’m guessing your photo falls into the “partially using the rule of thirds” category, now that I’ve looked at so many. :)

    Great tutorial and I LOVE the final edit!

    The final shot looks great. Or should I say “I adore it”?

    So cute!

    So, does Kitty Paw accept love letters from other species? :)

    I love this edit and also all the great info. I’m stuck on the fill layer. I’m use PSE 9 and when I add a solid color layer, it doesn’t bring up the pic in the background, the screen goes white. Any idea why?

    Beautiful edit…love it!

    Beautiful edit – love the brightness ! Have to try this one!

    Thank you!


    Ashley – working with pastels is what I want to do more with my photos this year – last year I was in a dark phase in my photo editing now I want to lighten things – this edit was just perfect and I have no doubt this workflow will be used by me on numerous occasions from now on.

    I thought you sooc was lovely but the edit made it look so good.

    Although I am not participating I am learning so much from your editing. That video on levels was so useful! I used to just slide the thing around! Now I actually know what to do!! Love your photo!

    I really like the final result. It is simple yet has so much more light to it. I love it.

    Love the edit!! Thanks for the video tutorials – they’re great! Although, I was a little disappointed it wasn’t you :-)

    Awesome tutorial once again! Thank you so much for all your time and hard work. I’m especially loving being able to open pics in ACR that weren’t taken in RAW. Never knew I could do that, and it’s very helpful! I also need to remember to use fill layers with different blending modes. I forget that one! Beautiful picture! ♥

    I love it that you take the time to go through the step-by-step process. Thank you!

    Loving all your PSE/CS tutorials, including this one. The pink fill layer works so well with this shot.

    Awesome job, Ashley, on both the tutorial and the edit. You rock at teaching! :)

    I love how your pic is bright, but you kept a soft look to it! I love the reflection in your table, too! :)

    Also, there’s a plugin for elements called “elements +” (elements plus) that you can purchase for $12 – it gives you access to the color channels, curves and a bunch of other hidden features that PSE has but supposedly can only be accessed in the full PS. Just thought I’d throw that out there for you (let me know if you want the link)! :) (or you could get free actions for some of that stuff from everydayelementsonline.com) I could have sworn I heard about a similar tool or work around to get the color balance in pse, but I’m drawing a blank on that for now… :(

    Beautiful edit.

    Great edit and I love the reflection of the hearts. Thank you for another week of learning and the Quick Selection tip.

    Ashley, your tips are the best! I am seriously learning all sorts of things from you. Thank you.

    love the tips! and the hearts =)