January 10, 2012
Tutorial Tuesday
It wasn’t too long ago that I would regularly edit photos for others…it was the beginning of what later became regularly-scheduled photo editing tutorials. The early days were rather rough (I’m a bit embarrassed by some of my feeble attempts at editing), but I appreciate all the people that encouraged me by sending photo challenges my way. 
DSC08420 sooc
So…the other day, Bertha sent me a new and unsolicited photo editing request. I jumped at the chance to help her edit a photo of her son – one she took in preparation for his first birthday party. This particular shot had all kinds of goodies: a dull white backdrop in need of brightening, a bit of healing work and a canvas stretch. Bertha’s one request was to teach her my secrets so she could replicate the process on the rest of her photos. Since she gave me permission to share the process, I thought we could all learn a thing or two.
DSC08420 LR Adj
Lightroom Adjustment
For me, it all started in Lightroom. I used FrogMum’s “Bright and Light Portrait” preset and Standard Noise Reduction preset (by clicking on the link, you can download either her RAW presets or JPG presets). If you don’t have Lightroom, no worries. You can also make some quick and easy adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) which is attached to Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. If you don’t want to mess with Lightroom or ACR, I recommend using my Nice & Easy action just to clean up the image.
DSC08420 PP3
Perfect Portrait 3
Once you’ve done that, I almost always run Coffeeshop Blog’s Perfect Portrait 3. You’ll have a number of choices as the action runs (levels adjustment, skin softening, etc) so just adjust to taste. I tend to turn on the sharpen layer and turn down the soften skin layer (especially on babies – 50%).

Up until this point, it’s been all about cleaning up the image before getting into heavy editing (hehehe, kinda sounds like heavy petting). But, if you’re like me, you want to know how to make the background brighter and whiter.
ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 09 20.48
If you’re in Photoshop, you’re going to go to the adjustment panel and select the levels adjustment. There will be three eye droppers on the left side of that panel. Use the bottom eye dropper to select what should be white in your image.

If you’re in Photoshop Elements (I use PSE7 so it may be different in the version you’re using), you’ll click on the shape that looks like a ying/yang (black/white circle) for a drop down menu – from there, you’ll select the levels adjustment panel. The eye droppers will be on the right hand side (see above). Use the eye dropper on the far right to select what should be white in your image. I did a much more detailed explanation of using your levels adjustments HERE.

I used two different level adjustment layers. In the first layer, I selected an area of white somewhere in the middle of the image. I left this layer at 100% opacity. In the second layer, I focused on the shadows (you’ll notice these most strongly on the far right of the image). I also left this at 100% opacity but if you feel like it’s too strong, you can always lower the opacity just a bit. Another thing you may want to do is add layer masks to each of those adjustment layers. If you’re using PS or PSE9, layer masks are built in…but if you don’t have one, the Coffeeshop Blog has one – click HERE.

For my edit, I filled my first layer (the one where I focused the white on the center of the image) white…well it was already white. I used a soft black brush at 30-40% opacity and painted over the balloons in the image so they weren’t so bright. On my second layer (where I focused on the shadows), I filled the layer mask black and painted over the areas that needed to be adjusted, leaving the rest of the image untouched.

From this point, you can merge your layers (CTRL+E) if you’d like. If you want to leave your layers, just go to your background layer and create a copy (CTRL+J) so you can stretch the canvas. I might also mention that while this was my order…you can certainly stretch the canvas first and then adjust the layers…whichever your prefer. 

Much like the video suggests, in this photo, use the marquee tool and create a rectangular shape on the left side of the image. You’ll then pull the left side of that box all the way to the edge of the image so the white fills in the entire image (if that makes sense).

By doing this, the ribbon also stretches…so, I used a layer mask to erase (black brush on white layer) the stretched portion of the image. I then merged that layer down into the background and created a new layer (CTRL+J) so I could clone that portion of the image.

To clone, I selected a blank white space in the image using the clone tool. To us the tool, you have to select the space by clicking alt first. That selects the space. You then move your cursor into the space that needs to be replaced and start painting.

Now create a duplicate version of the layer you just finished cloning. Just hang onto it, we’ll come back to it in a moment. Now create a fill layer above the duplicate layer you just created. You’ll be using this layer to paint over any areas of the image that need a little extra attention. Use the eye dropper tool to select a white in the image. I find the easiest way to do it is by using the layer below (duplicate) and using your quick selection tool (tool can be found on the left side of your screen) to select anything you don’t want painted white (baby, balloons, etc). Right click and select inverse. Now click back over to your fill layer and start painting (use a low opacity brush). If you go too far, you can always use a layer mask to erase part of the paint. I really hope that makes sense.
DSC08420 Birthday Edit RS
Final Edit
Beyond this point, you may still find areas of the image that need to be healed. Use the healing tool (looks like a band aid on the left side of your screen) to heal those spots. You may even want to merge your layers and create a new duplicate for this final heal work.
DSC08420 Before and After
Once you’re done – merge your layers again and save the image. I’ve included my before and after above. What questions do you have?
By the way, I’m considering doing something along the lines of Photo Tutorial Tuesday…either weekly or bi-weekly (maybe even less frequent depending on my ability to deliver). I don’t want to take anything away from the Edit Me Challenge, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, just let me know. Have a great Tuesday!