You know the ones, “____________________ for Dummies.”  Seriously, not 3 feet from where I sit is a book entitled, “Photoshop Elements 8 for DUMMIES.”  And DUMMIES is capitalized for emphasis, I guess!  What’s a person called who learns best from “doing” as opposed to one who learns best from “reading?”  I would be the one who learns from doing.  Experimentation, that’s how I learn!

Janice, from Sullivan J Photography, stopped by yesterday to comment on the San Diego Temple I photographed a few months ago.  (You should check out her macro photography – it’s amazing!)  Her comment reminded me that I had planned to blog about the editing process for that particular image.  Interestingly, my editing skills have been a work in progress for the past year.  Like my photography, I still feel like there is much room for improvement.

In the image below (which is straight from my camera) you can readily see various problems.  Probably the most noticeable issue is the very obvious vertical distortion. The details of this shot are 17mm, f/11, 1/50, ISO 100.  As you can see, the 17 mm wide-angle has captured the entire Temple, but severely distorted the image in the process.  Notice how the spires and the palm trees are drawn toward the center of the image.  Besides the distortion issue, there happens to be various levels of shadowing that produces interest, but shadows the color of the flowers in the foreground.

When viewing this scene, it was literally spectacular.  But, I couldn’t get that same spectacular scene captured in my image.  The problem – well, the camera is unable to fully reproduce what your eye can see.  And this is where editing comes in.  My goal in editing is to produce an image that is realistically the same as what I saw!!  Nothing more – nothing less.

The Original Image

Since my books were all packed due to the move when I was in the editing process, my book for dummies was useless!  Actually, it was quite a bit of fun experimenting on my own anyway!  So, I rubbed my hands together and said, “Let the editing begin!”

I had been doing a lot of experimentation with filters in PS Elements recently, so I started there.  As I was browsing through the various categories, it was like…BAM!!!!!! Right there in front of me was a filter called Camera Distortion.  Alright seriously, how easy was that?  When I brought the image into PSE and activated the distortion filter, the image was overlaid with a grid.  Utilizing the vertical slider in the adjustment box, I began to make the vertical adjustment that aligned the spires and the palm trees to a vertical position.  Following the alignment, I simply cropped the image to account for the adjustment that had occurred in the lower portion of the newly adjusted image. It’s as if the image is being squeezed together at the bottom in order to cause the top to separate and align vertically.  It’s really quite a tool!

Next I noticed the green area between the Temple and the sidewalk was completely shadowed, severely knocking down the color contrast that was evident in person.  Now rather than attempt to brighten that area by lightening the entire image, I used my favorite tool in PSE – the Selection Tool.  My IPhoto editing program doesn’t offer this feature, which would have forced me to lighten the entire image or leave it as it is. But with the selection tool, I was able to select that area only, and then lighten accordingly to present the stunning contrast that existed that day!

Using the Selection Tool I was also able to lighten the grassy area in the foreground, the palm trees on the right because the sun was directly exposing them, and it allowed me to slightly saturate the colors of the flowers to present them exactly as I saw them that afternoon!

A few other minor adjustments – lighten the shadows here, darken the highlights there, add my signature and copyright, and VOILA!!!  

The Edited Image

I still have so much to learn about editing, but I’m sure having fun experimenting!!

Thanks Janice for your comment which reminded me about this draft!!

Now, grab your camera and let’s start shooting!!  That reminds me.  I have a secret photo shoot in the morning!  And as I look at my clock, it’s 1:56 AM.  Are you like me? I get these creative urges and just can’t sleep until I do something about them. Tonight was one of those nights!



~ by photographyfree4all on June 21, 2011.


  1. Great job on the editing! Until they invent a camera that actually CAN capture what our eyes see, I’m so grateful for PS software!! Have you checked out the “Missing Manual” series of books? I picked one up for CS5, and I actually like it better than the “Dummies” book.


  2. Thanks Holly! I’ll definitely check it out.


  3. I totally agree with my friend, Holly. You did an excellent job of editing. Which selection tool do you use. The quick selection, brush, or magnetic?? Just curious.


  4. Hi Bob! I used the Quick Selection Tool to isolate the area I wanted to edit. Then with that area selected, I went into the particular editing process I desired for that specific area. In this case, once I selected the flowers I was then able to saturate and lighten as desired without changing any of the other areas of the image!! That’s the beauty of that tool. You can separate a single area to edit and only that area will be effected. In PSE it’s the small wand with the dotted loop at the end. It’s the 8th tool from the top and right below the Magic Wand. I hope today finds you well, my friend! 🙂


  5. Superb job of editing! I use several of the books on photoshop, but they are just to start me in a direction that I may not have thought about. Once I get started, then the experimentation begins. I really do learn better by doing, but I often need someone else’s perspective or experience to point me a a new direction.

    I don’t usually get the creative urge late at night, but I do find that when I have started, I don’t notice the time passing. Suddely I’ll look up and 2-3 hour have passed!

    PS- Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the comment!


  6. Thank you, Ted. I think you’ll find a great community of photographers here, if you’re interested! It’s a safe place to offer tips and learn from some of the best!! Thanks for already adding your comments here! Great job. Hope you’ll be back soon.


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