Category Archives: Photoshop

How to improve a photo that is too dark, and bring out details in shadows

You can make a big improvement to photos which are too dark by doing a couple of things in photoshop.

Open the photo in photoshop.
Type Ctrl+L (hold down the Ctrl key and press the letter l on the keyboard).  A small window opens:

adjust levelsTo adjust the input levels using the graph, drag the white slider to the left, until the photo looks how you want – you should probably stop just to the right of the “1.0”.  (Make sure the Preview box is ticked so that you see the effect of the changes.)  Click OK.

You can also then click on Enhance, then Adjust Lighting, then Shadows Highlights. A window opens, and you can play around with the sliders until you like the result (again, make sure the Preview box is ticked so that you see the effect of the changes.)  Click OK.

If you are happy, save the photo.

If you have a photo where, for example, the subject in the foreground is too dark, but the rest of the photo is fine, you can make changes just to the dark part of the photo.

Click on the Marquee tool, and using either the rectangle or the ellipse, draw a  marquee round the area of the photo you want to improve, and follow the steps above.  The changes you make will only be applied to the area inside the marquee.  When you are happy, kit the Esc key to get rid of the marquee, and save the photo.


Using Layers in Photoshop – Basic

When you open a photo in Photoshop, it is opened in a layer – shown in the Layers Panel on the right hand side as Background. When you edit a photo, it can be useful to put things into different layers, to isolate them from the rest of the picture. You can then apply effects or make changes in one layer only. This is a very basic description of how to create layers.

I like to make a duplicate layer of the whole photo before I do anything else; that way, I don’t change the original in the Background layer, so I can always go back to it for comparison. To do this, click on Layer, then click on Duplicate Layer. A dialog box opens, with a suggested name for the layer as “Background copy” – you can use this name or change it. Click OK.

You now see two layers in the Layers Panel.

Choose a feature in the photo, for example someone’s face; select this area using the Magnetic Lasso Tool, or one of the other tools. Now do Layer, then New, then Layer via copy. Click OK in the dialog box.

You will now see a third layer in the Layers Panel.

If you click on the eye symbol next to the Background layer, and the Background copy layer that you made, then both these layers are no longer visible, and you are left with just the newest layer containing the face (or whatever feature you chose). In the Layers Panel, click on that layer – this is now the layer you are working in. You can make any changes you like in this layer, without affecting the rest of the photo.

To see how your changes will look, turn the Background Copy layer back on by clicking on the eye symbol to make it visible again.

It is important to be aware of which layer is the current layer – when you make changes they will only happen in the current layer – so remember to click in the correct layer in the Layers Panel before you make your changes!

When you save your picture, if you wish to keep the layer structure, you need to save it as a .psd file; if you save it as a jpeg, the layer structure will not be there when you next edit it.

PSE Photoshop Elements – remove the background from a photo

Open PSE and choose Edit (not organise).  When it’s open, open the photo you want to edit and make sure you have chosen Edit Full on the right of the screen.

On the left hand side, find the symbol for the eraser.  If you right click on this, you can choose: Eraser Tool, Background Eraser Tool or Magic Eraser Tool.

Select the Magic Eraser Tool.  At the top of the screen, you should see Tolerance.  Set this to 25 by clicking on the number and typing in 25.

background partially erased

background partially erased

Now click on the background where you want to remove it – large chunks of background should disappear to be replaced by a chequer board effect.  Keep doing this until you have got rid of most of the background, but don’t go too close to the parts you want to keep.

When you get close to the bit you want to keep, to stop the Magic Eraser Tool from selecting too much, change the Tolerance to a lower number – try 10.  (Remember you can zoom in to see the details if you need to).

If you have any areas left, you can also use the

background fully erased

background fully erased

Background Eraser Tool, which works like a brush.  You can change the brush size and the Tolerance for this.

Now you have isolated the part of the picture you want.

If you want to copy that onto another photo, open the second photo.  To view both images side by side, click on the Arrange button on the top ribbon – it’s the box to the right of Help. Choose the side by side option.  Make sure you have the pointer selected in the Toolbar – it’s the top symbol.  Click on your image and drag it across to where you want it.


Invert a selection in Photoshop

In Photoshop Elements, when you are editing a photo, you use one of the Selection tools to select part of the photo.  For instance, there is an unwanted object in the photo – draw a selection box round that object, and delete.  Every thing inside your selection box is deleted.

If you want to keep the object you have selected, and delete everything else, then once you have drawn your selection box, choose SELECT then INVERSE.  Delete will now remove everything outside your selection box.