Digital Photograph Editing Lesson with Danielle

Danielle's original jpg digital photo on the left, our edited version on the right using Photoshop Elements 8/CS5

Some of my DSLR photography students have gotten to a point where their shooting is definitely improving, and it is time to now work on how to post process, or edit digital photographs.  Danielle is one such student.  I even wrote recently myself that one should develop shooting and editing skills simultaneously.  

Danielle brought her laptop to the lesson loaded with Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.  I worked on my own laptop using Adobe Photoshop CS5 showing her step-by-step how I go about editing a portrait.  I typically use a workflow in this order: 

  1. crop the image
  2. correct the exposure
  3. color correct the image
  4. edit the subject's eyes
  5. remove blemishes
  6. clone out unwanted elements in the image
  7. sharpen
  8. save! 

As you can see above, Danielle captured a very nice expression on the baby's face.  Since the right side of the baby's head was already over the edge of the frame, I decided to crop down the top as well.  The baby had a small cut on the inside corner of her left eye, we used the healing brush mostly to make that disappear.  

The baby also had dark shadows under her eyes.  We chose a soft clone stamp brush, set it to lighten, set it to 40%, sampled an area just under the dark spot, then made a gentle brush stroke horizontally over the dark spot.  Then we used the dodge tool set to highlights and 30% and clicked once or twice on each white area of the eye to quickly and super easily brighten the eyes without making it look too fake.

The last thing we did was remove some drool on her lips.  

Danielle did a good job in camera of getting the image.  We then used editing to make the photograph more polished and professional looking.  With practice those editing steps only take about 10 minutes to do, or less.  Danielle learned and practiced those steps side-by-side with me and more as well in just a 2-hour lesson.  I am looking forward to seeing how she does on her own, and if she discovered any new editing tricks herself!

Thank you Danielle for letting me publish your photograph. 

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