Lab 3: Fixing Problems

In this lab we look at several techniques for fixing problems in photographs. (The examples are taken from Kelby and Kloskowski, The Photoshop Elements 6 Book for Digital Photographers.)

A. Removing Blemishes. Either the Spot Healing Brush or the Healing Brush can be used for this process; try both. Use the file Removing Blemishes.jpg.

  1. Select the Spot Healing Brush or the Healing Brush from the toolbox (type J). Zoom in on the image to see the area that you need to fix.
  2. For the Healing Brush Alt-click on a good spot of skin near the blemish. (Skip this for the Spot Healing Brush.)
  3. With a brush just large enough, move the brush over the blemish and click -- it is gone!.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for any other blemishes in the image.

For each spot use a brush size that can just surround it; for Spot Healing Brush, you must have a little of the surrounding area. The selection spot for the alt-click to get started can be from anywhere on the face as long as the texture is the same as the blemish area.

B. Removing those dark circles under your eyes the morning-after ??? Use the file Dark Circles.jpg.

  1. Select the Clone Stamp tool (type S). Choose a soft-edged brush smaller than the area to be fixed. Zoom in on the area to fix.
  2. In the Options Bar set the Opacity to 50%.
  3. In the Mode pop-up menu select Lighten. This way only areas lighter than the sample are changed.
  4. Alt- click on a sample area. This chould be an area close to what the fixed area should be. Perhaps, just under the dark circles. Be sure it is not too rosy.
  5. Paint the areas to be fixed. You can paint over them twice or more if needed.

An alternative is to use the Healing Brush tool. This will eliminate the dark completely, but it may not look as realistic.

C. Adjusting light with digital dodging (lightening) and burning (darkening). The names derive from darkroom techniques. Dodging meant using a piece of paper to block the light coming through the negative so as to make a part of the image lighter than the negative would. Burning means exposing a part of the image from the negative longer than normal to burn in more, making it darker. In P.E. we do this with a fill layer of gray, which has no effect on the image. We use a brush to either lighten the gray, which lightens the image, or to darken it to darken the image. Work with the image FocusingLight.jpg. Make the building to the right and its reflection lighter. Make the side of that building and the back building darker. Here are the steps.
  1. From the Layer menu select new layer
    1. in the dialog, select overlay from the drop down window
    2. check the box to fill with overlay-neutral color
  2. Select the brush tool with a medium soft-edged brush and sets its opacity to 30%
  3. Set the foreground color to White
  4. Paint the area to lighten. To make parts lighter, release mouse button and paint again.
  5. Switch the foreground to black and paint the areas to darken.

D. Making shadow areas lighter or highlights darker. Open the Histogram window to see the effects of your adjustments on the histogram. Often when your photograph has a shadow are as well as bright areas, your exposure will leave the shadows too dark to see easily, or may wash out highlights. We can easily lighten shadows or darken highlights to make a better image. Work with the images ShadowAreas.jpg and TooBright. The steps are easy.

  1. Select Adjust Light - Shadows/Highlights from the Enhance menu.
  2. Use the Lighten Shadows slider to make the shadows as light as you think they should be. Be careful not to kill all contrast with the lighter areas.
  3. Use the Darken Highlights slider to darken highlights. You should be able to see details in the wedding dress in the second image.
  4. Note, you could do similar adjustments with color curves.

Selection Techniques

Often we want to apply an adjustment to only part of a photograph. In order to do that, we need to specify the part to be changed by selecting it with a selection tool. Many different types of adjustment can be applied in this way.

E. Rectangular selection. Use the file RectangleSelection.jpg.

  1. Active the Rectangular Marquee tool in the tools palette.
  2. Then click and drag a rectangle over the menus at the center of the image.
  3. Above the tools select add to selection and also click and drag another rectangle over the blackboard.
  4. Select the Levels from the Enhance - Adjust Lighting menu and adjust the midtones to brighten these selections. Notice how only the selections are affected, not other parts of the image.

Circular or Oval selections can be done in a similar fashion. If you right-click on the rectangular selection tool you can choose the oval instead.

F. Selections that are not rectangular or oval. Try this on the file ChristmasOrnaments.jpg.

  1. Use any of these tools -- lasso, magic wand, quick-selection, or selection brush. Select the gold heart. When done, if parts are left out, you can add by clicking on the add icon above the tools and use the tool. If you have too much, click on the subtract icon. Then click Refine Edge and in the dialog set feather to 2.0 and the other controls to 0.0.
  2. Now open the Hue/Saturation from the Enhance - Adjust Colors menu (or Ctrl-U). use the hue slider to change the color of the selection to red. You have made the gold heart red.

G. Softening edges using feathering. In this example we use an oval selection to highlight the center of the picture. First we do it without feathering then with feathering to see the difference. Here we use the technique to focus attention on the subjects by darkening the surrounding part of the image. Use the image SofteningHarsh.jpg.

  1. Select an oval over the two faces.
  2. From the Select menu click Inverse to select the area outside the oval.
  3. From the Levels palette move the midtones slider up to darken the selction (outside the oval). The difference is too abrupt.
  4. Undo with Ctrl-Z (or Undo from the Edit menu).
  5. Select the oval again and click on Inverse from the Select menu. Then click the Feather option from the Select menu.
  6. Now use levels to darken the selection again. Then click escape to deselect and look at the difference.