Old 08-11-2009, 06:19 PM   #1
David Harrison
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Default PS Elements Where Do I Begin

PS Elements 6 is loaded onto my laptop. I can pull up the page. The manual is 300 pages long....I equate that to a 300 level course at grad school. What should I tackle first. "Overexposed" is one reject I'd like to work on because usually it meant that a part of the photo, and not the train, as overexposed.

Anyone with a favorite how to site, tutorial, etc??

David Harrison
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:33 PM   #2
cblaz
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You begin by opening up a photo.

I haven't used PSE in a few years, but the most important things you'll need for RP photos are the Rotate Canvas tool, the Crop tool, the Levels tool, the Brightness/Contrast tool and the Unsharp Mask tool.

I don't remember if PSE6 has a shadow/highlight tool, so you might want to root around and see if you can find it.

The best thing to do is open up a photo and test different settings with all these tools to see what works best for you. There are no set guidelines, as every photo needs different adjustments.

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Old 08-11-2009, 08:51 PM   #3
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Hi David,

I use PSE 6 all the time. Yeah, I bought a manual, but I use it primarily for reference material. Most of the functions are pretty intuitive.

As Chris said, you first need to open a file containing a picture. Depending on whether you shoot raw or JPEG, the screen you will see is different. I will assume for now that you are shooting JPEG...it has fewer steps.

Once the shot is open, you should plan to address all of the following items:
  • Dust Removal (if needed). Use the clone or healing tools for this.
  • Pole, wire, railfan, and shadow removal (advanced users only )
  • Levels (read the manual on this....it would take way too long for me to describe how to do this.)
  • Shadows, Highlights and Midtone Contrast
  • Brightness and Contrast
  • Hue and Saturation (basically color and color depth)
  • Correct Distortion (if any, using Filters pull-down menu)
  • Level the shot(called rotation....use the "Custom" pull-down)
  • Crop as desired
  • Sharpen using USM or Sharpen Tool
  • Save the file (as JPEG or TIFF)
  • Resize & resharpen if you intend to post on RP

This list assumes that you will be doing only global editing....meaning all adjustments apply to the entire picture. When you get the hang of doing that, you can then move on and learn to use the selection tools so you can do selective edits on smaller parts of the scene.

Start by fishing around in the menus and finding the pull-downs that kick off the commands listed above. You don't have to do them in the same order as I do, but I do recommend making the sharpening steps the last things you do. Otherwise, build a checklist of the necessary steps and keep it with you so you won't forget anything.

There is plenty in PSE beyond what I have detailed here. I've just mentioned the basics. If you need details, that's when you read the manual.

Have fun!
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:09 PM   #4
KevinM
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Just realized you also wanted help with "Overexposed"

If you are shooting raw and you open the file, the screen you will see has an exposure adjustment. It also has a histogram. You can use it to dial back the exposure a bit and use the histogram to ensure that you are not clipping any wavelengths. If anything is blown out, try using the "Recovery" adjusment...again looking at the histogram to see how much adjustment you need.

With any file, JPEG or raw, you can always use Levels or Brightness tools to make minor reductions in the brightness of the shot. Just be aware that a blown-out JPEG may be beyond saving....at least for RP. That is the one big advantage of raw over JPEG. The latitude to fix exposure problems is greater with raw than with JPEG.

I haven't seen the shot you are trying to fix, but my guess is that it is not totally blown out. It probably just needs a Levels or Brightness adjustment. Once you get the hang of using the histogram in PSE, you won't have this problem any more. It also helps to develop an eye for exposure....that just takes practice.

Edit: I should also mention that calibrating your monitor really helps with exposure editing. If the histogram in PSE looks good, but the picture appears too bright or too dark on your monitor, that may be a sign that you need some adjustments to bring it into proper calibration.
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Last edited by KevinM; 08-11-2009 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:54 PM   #5
David Harrison
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Kevin...thanks much. You should take up teaching. Your list gives me a great place to start and to catalog tools I will need. And Chicago's got three straight sunny days forcast through Friday.

David
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