Monday, March 17, 2014

How I Use Photoshop Elements to Edit My Product Photos

Before I jump in here, I just want to make something clear.  My photos are far from the best out there, and I'm not claiming to be an expert because I'm not an expert.  I'm not even a photographer. I'm just a regular ol' blogger and Etsian who takes bad photos, that I then transform from dark and dingy to bright brighter and crisp.  

I recently had someone ask what kind of camera and photo editing software I use so I thought I'd put together a little post to share what I do.

The camera I use is a  Sony DSLR-A100.  It's at least 8 years old.  I've never read the manual so I don't know how to do anything on it except take photos using the auto-focus feature.  I've somehow picked up along the way, to use the A/V button to help bring more light into my photos if they look too dark on the camera's preview screen.

I used to take all of my product photos on my kitchen counter, with a sheet of white paneling as a backdrop. I did this for several years, but have recently found that my upstairs bathroom gets wonderful natural light during the day. I now take my photos there, using a sheet of paneling as a backdrop, and another sheet under whatever the subject is.  

For several years, I used Picasa for photo editing.  I mainly used the "I'm feeling lucky" tool because it seemed to do a pretty good job at making my photos look nice.  A few years ago, I think they tweaked some things and suddenly, my photos looked really harsh when I used this tool.  I tried using other effects from the software to edit my photos, but I just couldn't get them to look bright and clear.  Eventually, I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop Elements.  I fell in love with it right away, and bought it as soon as my trial ran out.  

I only use 3 PSE functions when I edit my photos.  I still like to use Picasa for straightening and cropping my photos because I don't like the way those functions work in PSE.  Since I complete those actions first, I start off by importing my photos into Picasa.  I choose the ones I want and straighten and crop them before exporting them to the folder I use for pre-edited photos.

Once I have them ready to edit, and exported to the specific folder, I open PSE and import them there.  

The first edit I do is Remove a Color Cast.  You can see the Before (on the left) and the After (on the right)

Next, I use the Brightness tool.  This is where most of the change comes in.  I adjust both the brightness and the contrast.  You can see the Before (on the left) and the After (on the right)

The third step is Lighten or Darken.  I adjust both the Lighten Shadows and Mid-tone Contrast. You can see the Before (on the left) and the After (on the right).

Here's another side-by-side of the Before and After.

I know there is so much more I can do with this software.  I just haven't found the time to sit down and learn.  There are many books on how to use the different Elements versions (I use version 11).  Because I'm a fan of the for Dummies books, that's the book I have.  There are also tons of tips and tutorials from bloggers that can be found through Pinterest.  

2 crafty peeps said:

  1. This is very interesting info. You sound like me - I'm very 'seat of the pants' when it comes to this kind of thing! I have a metric ton of stuff I need to start listing in my Etsy shop (hopefully one day soon), so this info is very timely to me. Thank you for this post!

    1. I definitely tend to learn more by just messing around in things. I'm usually not one for reading the instructions. :-)

      Taking and editing photos is the most time-consuming part of selling on Etsy, at least to me.