Photoshop Tips & Tricks: Adjusting Your Blog Photos to Perfection!

I’m a Photoshop girl. I graduated from college with a degree in Graphic Design and have been using the program for over 14 years (wow, that makes me sound OLD!).

Today I thought I would share some of my favorite tips and tricks for any beginner out there that will be switching over to Photoshop. I’ll just share a couple of my greatest tools & uses this week and if you’re craving more, just let me know and I’ll do another post!

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LEVELS
Adjusting the levels through Photoshop will add brightness and contrast to your photograph. Simply go to Image > Adjustments > Levels (or Apple/Control L for the shortcut).

The photo below is my raw image straight from the camera with no adjustments. When I bring up the Levels, you can see the histogram is focused in the center, or midtones. To help even out the brightness and contrast of your photograph, simply move the black and white sliders to the ends of the histogram (or until you find your desired level).

If you look below, I moved in my black and white sliders and there’s already a huge improvement!

Remember, when you move the white slider to the left, you’re adding in more whites. When you move the black slider to the right, you’re adding in more blacks.

If you need to remove some blacks or whites from your photograph, use the Output Levels at the bottom of the Levels window. Pull the white slider to the left to remove brightness, or pull the black slider to the right to remove your darkest blacks.

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SHADOWS/HIGHLIGHTS
Another option for adjusting your photograph’s contrast is to use the Shadows/Highlights tool. Simply go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights.

This tool is absolutely amazing! It will automatically set your Shadows to 50% and your Highlights to 0%.

You can play around with the settings, but I often find that the automatic Shadows/Highlights tool is quite amazing! Just see the difference in the photos below! Even the colors seem to have more saturation!

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HUE/SATURATION
Ok, speaking of saturation… Let’s talk color! To find this tool simply go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (or Apple/Control U for the shortcut).

Hue/Saturation is going to help you control the color output of your photographs. Hue will allow you to change colors, saturation changes your color’s dullness and brightness.

So as we learned before, the Shadows/Highlights tool can work wonders in bringing life back to your photograph! BUT my whites seem to have a tint of yellow. The Hue/Saturation tool can help fix that in a jiffy!

Since the white tones have a yellow cast on them, I changed the default MASTER color preset to YELLOW. I then chose to Desaturate (or pull yellows out) of the photograph.

You can see the before and after shots below. See how the photo on the left has the yellow tint to the tray and the tabletop? Pulling out the yellow tones created a bright white end result on the right.

This tool is pretty fun to play around with and will take some time to learn how to use it properly. But TRUST ME, you can do some pretty cool things with it! Wanna see?…

I painted this end table last year and photographed it in the corner of my dining room (one red wall, one tan wall). By selecting the red wall (minus the flowers) I changed the Hue/Saturation setting to RED and moved the Hue and Saturation sliders until I matched my wall colors perfectly. Pretty cool, huh?

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DODGE AND BURN
Another way to play with your photo’s exposure is with the Dodge or Burn Tool! The Dodge tool is going to add highlights to a specified area, and the Burn tool is going to add shadows to your specified area. These tools can be found in your toolbar (on the left side of the photo below).

 To make any adjustments, you’re going to “paint” with a brush. You can see the changes on the photo below! I used the Dodge tool to lighten up the tray and white table, and used the Burn tool to give a dark halo around the photograph.
One of the best uses of this tool is for black and white photography. You can really play around with the exposure of a photograph to highlight your lightest areas and really give contrast throughout. I would recommend this tool if you’re looking to edit your photograph with precision since you will essentially be “painting” the exposure with a paintbrush.

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CLONING
Do you ever take a photograph and  when you’re ready to post you see something sticking out like a sore thumb that you REALLY wish you could get rid of? Yeah, happens all the time to me. BUT I have a way to fix it in Photoshop! The Clone Tool. You can find this in your toolbox (or use the shortcut “S”).

You can see in the photo below that there’s an electrical outlet just to the left of my table. It’s ugly and an eyesore and I want it out NOW! Again this tool uses a paintbrush to make your changes.

Alt-click (option/alt key and click) with your brush in an area that you want to CLONE. This means if you want to duplicate the tan wall with the subtle shadow, you aren’t going to Alt-click on the red wall or in the middle of the end table. For me I chose an area just below the outlet since the shadow is necessary to duplicate in order for this photo to look authentic.

Just allow your brush to make the changes and go slow while you “paint” in the clone! I suggest using a softer brush so your edges blend in. Remember, it’s going to exactly clone from your source where you Alt-click (option/alt key and click). Look for structure in images (shadows along the side of a table, patterns in fabric) and work with the grain.

Also, you only use the alt key when selecting the source area for the cloning (you don’t have to hold it down the whole time!).

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! Experiment with different photos and different brush sizes/hardness. You will LOVE the end results!

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MAGIC ERASER
OK, here’s my last tip of the day… and one of my favorites! The Magic Eraser Tool can be found in your toolbox under the normal Eraser. I mostly use this tool if I need to change out a sky on a gloomy day.

Simply click in the sky with your Magic Eraser Tool to get rid of it in a SNAP! And I truly mean that. Click and BAM! The sky is gone!

You can change the Tolerance if you’ve accidentally erased too much or too little. Just play around with it until you get it right (you can always Undo!).
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Next find a snazzy new sky and drag into your original photo window. Drag that pretty sky layer underneath your original layer so the sky only shows up behind the home (see below). Once you have it in place, go to Layer > Flatten Image.
See the before and after? Pretty cool, huh. There are so many different ways you can use this Magic Eraser Tool, but changing out the sky on a dreary day is definitely one of my favorites!
Well I hope that was HELPFUL and not too scary! I know this stuff can be totally overwhelming, too! Please feel free to leave me a comment or email me with any questions. I’M HAPPY TO HELP!!
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THIS IS A FOUR PART SERIES.
SEE ARTICLE #2 OF THIS SERIES BY CLICKING HERE.
photoshop tips and tricks
look below for links to other posts in this series

SAVE THE DATE! The Networking Blog Hop on Sunday, March 18th

Did y’all participate in Live.Laugh.Rowe blog hop last week?
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Well if so you know it was über successful!
How successful?
Yeah, pretty amazing!
So Kelly’s decided to do it all over again and invited ME to be one of the co-hosts!
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SAVE THE DATE!
A fun & fantastic networking Blog Hop
Sunday, March 18th
Here’s how this Blog Hop is going to roll.
Yep, I’m pretty excited!
What a great way to meet new bloggers and find amazing new projects.
SEE YOU THEN!