Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 Basic Image Editing

In Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 there are two parts to editing a photo or image in. One section has all the full features and editing controls at your finger tips. The other section called quick fix has a lot of features that are automated that allow for a quick and easy way to edit and enhance photos and images.

Open Photoshop Elements and go to the Quick Fix section. Across the top of the opening screen there are the different icons for the different features. Quick Fix is the third from the left. The quick fix screen is the same as the standard editor with some features locked out. These features are available in the standard edit section if you want to adjust any other image attributes not available in the quick fix.

One feature of the quick fix that makes it nice and more user friendly is the before and after images that show up when you do an adjustment on an image. You can see exactly what the image looks like before and after plus what each quick fix does to your image.

Try pulling up or getting a photo and editing it with these features. In the File pull down menu click on Open or use the photo browser feature to find the photo you want to edit. If you click on Photo Browser it will load the organizer and you can right click on your image and then select the Go To Quick Fix in the menu. It will load into the quick fix editor.

Your picture is in the middle window with the word After in the upper right corner. Click on the View menu check below your picture to the right and click on Before and After (portrait). It will pop up two pictures marked before and after side by side on your screen. If your image is an odd shape and you can’t see most of it you can try the landscape setting to see a good portion of the image. You don’t have to see all of the image to see exactly what is being done to all of it, just a good portion to tell if you like the settings or want to change them back.

Click on Enhance and then Auto Smart Fix. You should see a difference in your image but it may not be what you want or as good as you would expect. This is a quick and easy automated enhancement that decides what it wants to do with your photo in one shot. After seeing what it does let’s try going back and doing things one at a time. Click on the Edit pull down menu across the top left of the screen and click on Undo Auto Smart Fix. Now go to the Enhance pull down and try each auto fix separately to see what they do to your photo.

You can go back and undo each change using the Edit and undo feature, you can also use the hot keys and hold the control button and press the z key to undo changes. Be sure to only hit this once or it will undo the previous edit function you did before the one you just undid. If you keep hitting undo and it gets back to a point that there is nothing to undo a circle with a slash in it will pop up telling you there is nothing to undo.

You can also choose to do some more advanced image enhancing by using the features under the auto fix ones. Pull down the enhance menu and under the auto fix there are three advanced auto fix features. These are Adjust Smart Fix, Adjust Lighting and Adjust Color. The Adjust Smart Fix is an adjustment that allows you to change the amount as a percentage of the auto fix feature. Play around with the percentage to see what percentage changes what on your photo.

To change or adjust the lighting and color you can play with these features, some are pretty easy like the Lighting Shadows/Highlights and Brightness/Contrast. These are a sliding bar that you can see the changes on the image behind the pop up box that has the adjustment on it as you adjust the slider bar. So when you adjust the levels of shadows or contrast you can see what it does as you adjust it. The Levels adjustment under the Enhance feature is a bit more complicated. It shows a bar graph that has the best levels as the highest point of the bar graph and the lowest levels of light as the lowest. You can adjust the slider bar and see what it does to the image behind the box.

Color Adjustment is even more complex but still pretty easy. The adjustments are pretty self explanatory when you pull down each one, the Color Cast is just an explanation of what the features do and goes to the help section if you would like to. Adjust Hue and Saturation adjusts different parts of the picture due to color, purity and lightness of the image or sections you choose. Remove Color turns your picture to a black and white photo, Replace Color brings a simplified version of your picture up so you can pick a color and replace it with another. Skin Tone Adjustments also has a simple help in the pop up box and tells you how to perform some simple skin tone and skin color changes to even out the color and remove skin blemishes like a professional photographer. It’s kind of like doing air brushing or automatic tanning of a photo and subject. Magazines do these kinds of adjustments to their photos for those great shots on the covers of magazines so their subjects look like they have perfect skin with no blemishes and a great even tan.

The Color Variations allows you to adjust many of the colors whether it’s on your subject, the shadows or the background and has some handy small thumbnail views to see what you will be doing to your photo and what it looks like afterwards.

Two features that make the entire Photoshop Elements 4.0 a definite great program is the auto red eye fix and the magic wand selection tool. When you choose photos to load into the organizer or using the Auto Red Eye Fix in the quick organizer you can quickly and easily adjust the red eye of people and animals in photos. There is no choosing the eyes and telling the program what levels to adjust to or what color to use to replace the red. The program looks at the color it can see near the red spots and automatically replaces the red with the appropriate colors it chooses.

If the program cannot distinguish that there is red in the eye it will tell you it cannot fix it. You then have to go in and can use the color replacement to change the color. You can do this easily using the Quick Fix feature. Click on the Red Eye Tool on the side toolbar, it’s a little eye with a plus above and to the left. Go to the photo with red eye and use the cross to define the eye part with the red. All you need to do is place the cross on the screen on one corner of the area that has the red and then hold the left mouse button and move the mouse to the opposite corner of the red area of the eye. You merely use the cross to define or choose the entire area of red you want to change on the eye by holding the left mouse button while you go from one side and corner of the area to the other. When you let go of the mouse button it will replace the areas red with an appropriate color the program chooses, Usually black or gray.

Try playing with the amount using the two slider bars above the picture next to the eye icon that say Pupil Size and Darkness Amount. This is an adjustment for the size of the pupil and amount of darkness, pretty self explanatory.

The magic wand selection tool is another great part of this program. The tool allows you to select entire portions of your picture automatically by the color and area that is contrasting to the area you choose. Try this on an area, say a shirt of a person in a photo. Click on the tool on the side tool bar and paint in an area of a photo that we will change the color of. When you left click on the tool above the picture a small tool bar comes open. This has from left to right these features; reset for this tool or all tools, the magic or brush selection, new selection, foreground and background selection and the size of the brush or tool.

These features actually do many different things but the best thing they do is selecting an area of the picture or image by things you define. The different settings are fun to play with and you will be able to try different things with it using the help to be able to select and edit different parts of an image.

The quick fix features of Adobe’s Photoshop Elements make for easy and quick photo and image, well fixing. You can adjust the color, remove red eye and quickly fix skin tones and colors to make that photo of your dearest look as good or close to those magazine cover models. Now if they only had a ‘get in shape’ tool to lose the weight on my picture.

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