Photoshop Elements – Start Here!

by Erin

Photoshop Elements is open on my computer nearly every day and I can’t imagine life without it. But complete cluelessness dominated the first months and even years that I used the software. In retrospect, I can say that the learning curve is steep, but short.

Once you grasp a few key concepts about using PSE, you’ll be well on your way to conquering the software.

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So, where should you start?

  • Get into the habit of working on a copy of a picture every time you use Photoshop Elements. Knowing that you won’t destroy your original image will empower you to be bold and experiment to your heart’s content.
  • Want to accomplish a certain effect? Google it. There are countless fabulous tutorials all over the internet for just about everything you could want to do in Elements.
  • Layers are the best thing about PSE and are the most important concept to grasp. Don’t avoid using them just because you don’t quite understand them. Layers separate your various types of edits from each other, which gives you incredible flexibility. For example, what happens if you don’t like that black and white conversion you did? Delete that B&W layer only, but keep all your sharpening and blemish removal work on other layers.
  • You can also use layers to make amazing changes to your image in no time. Compare the image at the beginning of the post to the original version of it at the end.

overex layers

The shot was washed out with blown highlights. (That’s what I get from shooting at high noon, I know.)

The PSE 8 layers palette screen shot above illustrates the only changes I made to this image. Here are my steps:

  • Duplicate the background layer by clicking on it and typing control + J
  • Change the Blending Mode of the new layer to Multiply at the top left of the layers palette
  • Reduce the opacity of the layer to 42%.
  • And that layer mask box – the white one with the black spots in it? That’s a whole ‘nother topic – we’ll cover it on 5 Minutes for Mom soon.

Instant correction! Not perfect, but quick and good enough for sending to grandma! If the picture had been underexposed, I would have repeated the same procedure and changed the blending mode of the new layer to screen instead of multiply.

So, now’s the time. How comfortable are you with layers in Photoshop Elements? Do you have any nagging questions about them that you would like to be covered in a future tutorial? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Email Author    |    Website About Erin

Erin helps moms become better photographers anywhere she can. Her home blog is Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics, where she caters to mommy photographers and the Photoshop Elements crowd. She is the director of advertising for Clickin' Moms, where her job is to spread the word that Clickin' Moms is THE place to improve your photography skills and get quick and supportive answers to your questions. And, she is working with Jodi of MCP Actions to convert her wonderful actions forPhotoshop Elements.

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