ADOBE PHOTOSHOP- Photo Editing and Beyond

Now that you've shot some photos you will want to be able to look at them and learn how to alter them in the computer to create the best possible work of art. Photoshop is sort of like our darkroom, only the chemicals and enlargers and effects are all in the software.

REMEMBER: just because you may know how to apply filters and effects to your images in Photoshop this doesn't make the image a high quality work of art. Concept, Craftsmanship and Composition will help to create a work of art and so will awareness of the elements and principles of art.


  • Go to Adobe Bridge and click on the folder containing the images you wish to edit. When you are in Bridge, Photoshop is the default software to open and edit so double click or right click open to open your image. It will automatically open in Adobe Photoshop
  • Once your image is open in Photoshop go to the menus at the top of the software and select IMAGE and then scroll down and select IMAGE SIZE. Check to see how large your image is in terms of pixels, inches and resolution. All of these factor into a quality image. Images that will only be displayed on the web should be reduced to 72 dpi (dots per inch). Images that are going to be printed should be kept at 300 or more dpi. For this class 300 will be fine. Sizing images is sort of a ratio. If you shot the image in high resolution you can always make it a lower resolution, but if you shot the image lower resolution to begin with you can't just change it to 300 dpi and expect to get a high resolution photo. The 72 pixels you shot in will just be stretched and the image may appear blurry or pixelated.


Next you might want to work on the contrast and sharpness of the image. Usually you can improve the contrast by using either Levels or Curves.

  • Go to IMAGE and click on ADJUSTMENTS and choose LEVELS. (the shortcut for this is command L)
  • There are handles that control the lights, mid-tones and shadows. You want the levels of tones to be as equally distributed as possible.
  • Usually I move the light one first and then adjust the dark.
  • You can also use the eye dropper tools and click first the light and click the lightest area of the photo and then choose the dark dropper and click the darkest area. This can redistribute the tones and create a more properly balanced exposure.
  • Experiment with levels.
  • Curves is another way to control contrast. You can use the eyedropper tools that come with it or you can move the points that are on the graph. Curves can also be an effective and creative way to create strange color effects. Experiment with this. (The shortcut for Curves is command M)
  • You may also want to sharpen your image at this point. Click on the Filter tab at the top and choose Sharpen. There are a number of sharpening filters. Experiment to see which you prefer.

COLOR CORRECTION AND ALTERATIONS Now that you've done some basic editing try a few other things.

  • Go to IMAGE and click ADJUSTMENTS then go to HUE/SATURATION (the shortcut for this is command U)
  • You can control the Saturation/Intensity of color in your image and the overall hue/color of the image.
  • If you click the colorize button you can create a monochromatic image.
  • If you move the saturate lever all the way to the left you can completely Desaturate the image and make it appear to be black and white.
  • You can also lighten or darken your image here.
  • There are a number of other color and contrast tools under the IMAGE menu. If you click IMAGE and then click ADJUSTMENTS you will see many options. Some allow you to color correct your work, while others let you correct the contrast. Try a number of them to see what happens when you do.


The layers palette in Photoshop is another way to create some unique effects. Photoshop allows you to have multiple images or parts of images on separate layers. These layers can be transparent or semi-transparent. They can also communicate and change based on the layers beneath. Some of the effects need to have the layer you're on be somewhat transparent. You need to make sure you select the layer that you want to apply an effect to and then experiment with things like Multiply, Diffuse, Color Burn, Difference. These will get you started with some interesting effects. Remember you can add a layer and just fill it with color. This color layer can then cause the other image layers to look unusual based on the mode that you choose for the layer.

What if you want to do special effects but only to part of your image? That's where the selection tools come in handy.


Adobe Photoshop allows users to select parts of the images using a wide variety of tools.

Marquee Tool

There are several selection tools that allow you to select by the shape of the selection. Once selected the area of your image will have dotted lines or marching ants and you will know it's selected. There are several shaped marquee tools including the rectangular and the oval.

Magic Wand

You can select by using the magic wand tool. This tool choses pixels in the image based on their color. You can control the number of pixels of color that the tool selects by. It defaults to 32. A variant of the magic wand is the quick selection tool. It works fairly well for selecting by color, but may end up picking up more pixels than you want.

Lasso Tool

You can select by tracing a path around an object using the lasso tool. This is challenging to do with the mouse since you are essentially drawing freehand around the object, but for quick selections that aren't really precise it works. There are variants of the lasso tool that include: The polygonal lasso that lets you select with a dot to dot kind of technique. It allows you to get fairly precise selections by clicking your mouse around the contours of the image area. There is also the magnetic lasso which traces around the contours that computer thinks you want to trace. It is less accurate, but sometimes get at the are you want.


It is helpful to learn a few shortcuts in Photoshop. They will make life easier and help you be more efficient with your work. If you forget a shortcut the menus in Photoshop tell you what they are. Here are some that will get you started.
Cmd c copies
Cmd v pastes
Cmd x cuts out
Cmd s saves
Cmd shift save as
Cmd z undoes the step you just made

Cmd + zooms in
Cmd - zooms out
Cmd 0 zooms to fit in window