Following a consistent Elements workflow can make your digital editing
life a lot easier and much less complicated. This is assuming
that you're not going to use the Quick Fix procedures.
You can also think
of it as an Elements road map or "what to do and when to do it" when
working with your photos.
A loose analogy is following a recipe
when making your favorite munchy and you know that restaurants always
follow their most popular recipes - the difference is that there isn't
much room for 'winging it' with a recipe.
So this could be your Elements workflow recipe, but unlike a recipe,
the steps can be modified according to what you want to achieve and the
overall quality of the image. The steps that follow, then, are
not written in stone - they're simply
suggestions because you're free to edit your shots in any way you wish.
Let's take a look at a suggested Elements workflow and then work
Elements Workflow is summed up in three basic steps ...
Start with global adjustments.
Move to local adjustments.
Finish with global adjustments.
Open the photograph (somewhat obvious).
Make a copy of the Background.
Straighten if necessary.
Select your view option (single, duplicate or "New
Window For ...).
Now you're ready to start working on the photograph. Some
additional global adjustment suggestions (that is adjustments that will
affect the whole image) include ...
A Levels Adjustment
layer to improve exposure, contrast and color.
Perhaps changing the Layer
Blend Modes will help eliminate either over or under exposed
Shadows and Highlights to modify the shadows and highlights
in the Enhance > Adjust Lighting.
Removing a color cast.in the
Enhance > Adjust Color menu.
Hue and Saturation adjustment layer.
Save as a .psd to preserve any layers that were added.
You don't have to do all of the steps, only do the ones that you figure
This is where you can have some fun with your image and your Wacom
The steps you may take at this point include pretty much everything in
the Elements menus. They include adjustments such as ...
Dodging and Burning (with Elements tools or with a Soft
Cloning and or patching.
Smudging and Bluring.
Save as a .psd to preserve any layers that were added.
This is also where your critical eye and your knowledge of Photoshop
Elements comes into play.
This section of the Elements workflow is the final step - where the
file is prepared for printing or uploading to the web or whatever you
have in mind.
Collapse the layers.
Noise reduction (if necessary)
Save (with a new name to preserve the original).
Here's an example with commentary ...
The first Global Adjustments
The image was not nearly
as nice as the original scene with a nice light blue sky and somewhat
There is no 'pop' to the picture and the contrast is low making for a
really boring shot.
A Levels adjustment was
added to improve the contrast and the color. It did a reasonably
good job of adding some life to the image.
In an effort to add some
drama to the sky, a Shadows Highlights
adjustment was done on the
The sky is darker now but the side of the ferry (the white parts) are
now kind of gray and not particularly appealing.
A Soft Light layer was
added and the default foreground and background colors (black and
white) were chosen.
The foreground color was changed to white (to dodge) and the brush set
to change opacity with pressure.
The following areas were dodged ...
The side of the Ferry from top to bottom including
The three little sail boats.
The trees in the middle of the shot were burned by changing the
foreground color to black.
I went to another shot
from the same day with a nice blue sky and used the Eyedropper to grab
that nice blue color as the foreground color.
Back to the shot and a new layer with a Color Blend mode was added and
then the flood fill tool was used to add the blue color to the
Now the goal is to get rid of the new blue where it is not needed.
A Layer Mask was added to
the new layer and black was set as the foreground color.
I zoomed in on the ferry and carefully pained out the blue cast.
There was a lot of close work which necessitated a lot of zooming in
and out, especially around the masts and flags on the top of the ferry.
The next parts to be
addressed were the sails on the little sail boats, the tree line in the
middle of the picture and the water around the ferry.
The same masking procedure used in the previous step was used in this
one as well.
Save as a .psd to preserve the layers.
Last Global Adjustment
After completing the
local adjustments I realized that I didn't like the overall
appearance of the image.
A second Levels adjustment
layer was added and the highlights were
This improved the overall contrast.
The image was then
sharpened using the High Pass
The last step was to Crop
I'm using Elements 10 and with this version of Elements we've the
option of adding one of four overlays ...
Rule of Thirds.
Being partial to the Golden Ratio, that's the one I selected.
The final two steps were to flatten the image and save it with a new
and unique name (to keep the original intact).
Here's a side by side comparison of the original and the final shot ...
The steps taken in this Elements workflow are pertinent to this image
only and every other image will include different steps and
techniques. What that says is to resist slavishly following what
is written here, other than the big picture view.
Start with some Global adjustments, move to Local adjustments and
finish with the final Global adjustments.
What fits in each catergory is dependent on the quality of the image
and what you want to achieve.