We show you how to clean up and enhance your photos with these five quick and essential tips. They may be no-brainers to many of you, but how many of you actually follow through with tweaks to your photo collection?
1. Crop and StraightenView>Grid, or press CTRL+’. Next, select the Straighten tool from the toolbar, or press P to bring it up. Locate a flat object in your photo that’s supposed to be level, like a tabletop, and using the grid as a reference, draw a line along the edge. Elements will do the rest.
Depending on how crooked your photo was to begin with, you’re either going to have a lot or a little white space around the edges of your straightened photo. Select the Crop tool, or press C, and select the area of the photo you want to crop, once again using the Grid for points of reference.
2. Remove Red Eyes
There are two ways to automatically remove red eye blemishes in Photoshop Elements. If you click on Enhance>Auto Red Eye Fix or use the CTRL+R shortcut, Elements will attempt to locate and fix any red eyes in your photo. If that doesn’t work, select the Red Eye tool, or press Y, and manually draw a box around the affected areas. Sometimes a single pass isn’t enough, and if that’s the case, simply repeat the process until you’re happy with the result.
3. Manual Color Enhancement
Navigate to Enhance>Adjust Color and select whichever option applies to what you want to adjust. For example, to remove a color cast, such as too much yellow from a picture taken indoors, select Remove Color Cast. Elements will walk you through the next step, which in this case is to click a part of the image that should be either gray, white, or black. When you do, Elements will adjust the colors accordingly. If you don’t like the result, press Reset and click a different part of your photo. Photos taken with indoor lighting tend to have a yellow and red tint due to the color of lightbulbs, so you should adjust color sliders toward Cyan and Blue to create a "cooler" looking photo.
If you want to change the intensity of certain colors, navigate to Enhance>Adjust Color>Color Variations. Use the buttons to alter the midtones, shadows, highlights, and saturation of your image and take note of the preview in the upper right corner. You can also tweak the intensity of hues by selecting Hue/Saturation instead of Color Variations. Be sure the Preview box is check, and then move the sliders left or right and watch the changes occur in real-time.
4. Manual Level Adjustment
You’ll want to get comfortable with the Level Adjustment tool to correct overexposed and underexposed images. You can also use the Curves tool, but it’s a bit more involved than what you’ll need in most cases.
Bring up the Levels tool by navigating to Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels, or press CTRL+L. You’ll see a histogram, with bright pixels represented on the right and dark pixels on the left. A perfectly exposed image will show most of the histogram activity in the middle of the graph, but in most cases, you’ll notice clumping at the left (underexposed) or right (overexposed). To correct either of these problems, click and drag the triangle on the side with less action towards the left or right. The three triangle sliders represent the black point, midtones, and white points for your image, respectively. Be sure to check the Preview box to watch the changes in real time, and be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up with a worse looking picture than what you began with.
Another way to use the Levels tool is utilize the dropper icons just above the Preview box. Select the black dropper (the first one) and click a part of your image that’s black, and then select the white dropper (the third one) and click a part of your image that’s black. You can also experiment with the middle gray dropper, though it’s easier (and more effective) to just stick with the black and white ones.