Keeping it Simple – more photo tricks

keeping it simple

Hopefully you found some time since my (Jacki’s) last post to experiment with simple tricks to improve your photos. In this post I’m going to show you two more fairly simple ways to give your photos a little facelift – improving the coloring of your photo and brightening teeth.

1. Improve the color. All three of my kids play sports so I take quite a few photos of sporting events. The ones outside (such as soccer) usually turn out really well. However, the indoor ones, for basketball and volleyball, can be a challenge. This is especially true since our school gym is dark and the lighting is very yellow. I use a 50 mm lens when shooting in the gym and I set my camera to Shutter Priority. I typically keep my shutter speed around 500 and my ISO at 1600-2500 depending on whether it’s afternoon or evening. When processing my photos in Photoshop Elements I use four steps:

a. Try auto color correct.

b. Lighten the shadows.

c. Use a photo filter.

d. Brighten the image.

My very first step is to try to use the software’s Auto Color Correction option. In Photoshop Elements, go to Enhance on the upper tool bar and select Auto Color Correction from the pull down tab. Sometimes this works well enough to my liking that I’m done. But sometimes it doesn’t. That’s when I use the following three steps in succession (the order does matter).

To lighten the shadows, go to Enhance, Adjust Lighting, and select Shadows/Highlights. The software will automatically lighten the shadows by 25%. Sometimes that works well but sometimes it doesn’t. You’ll have to judge. The beauty is that you have a sliding bar that will allow you to see your adjustments. Slide the bar until you like what you see. I want to see faces but not remove so much of the shadow that it makes the photo look ‘flat.’

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Next, use a Photo Filter to adjust the coloring of your photo. In Photoshop Elements click on Filter on your upper tool bar, select Adjustments, and Photo Filter. The software offers several different shades of warming filters and several cooling filters along with various color filters. I have found that for our school gym the Blue Filter works best. Experiment and find what works for you.

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The color filter adjusts the overall tone of your photo. I want the kids’ skin to look normal and not have the yellow cast set off by the wall color and overhead lights so using the blue filter allows me to do that. You can do the same for any indoor photo that has an unwanted hue.

The last step is for me to brighten the photo. This step was explained in the last post about simple tricks to improve your photos. In your upper tool bar go to Enhance, Adjust Lighting, Levels and work with your little ‘mountain.’ Slide the arrows on the left and right until you like the result. I often go past the edges of the mountain and give my photos extra light.

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Now you can see the difference from the ‘before’ image to the ‘after’ image. The whites are whiter and the skin looks more normal.

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The same process was used for a photo of the boys after winning their tournament:

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Try these four steps with your holiday photos or other photos taken indoors. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes!

2. Brighten teeth. Oftentimes teeth make the smile. J If teeth look bright and clean the smile looks all the nicer. Obviously we don’t want to alter photos so much that they look fake or that teeth look like they’ll glow in the dark! But a little lightening can go a long ways in improving the overall look of your photo.

There are two simple options in brightening teeth:

a. Use the Dodge Tool.

b. Use the Magic Wand and alter the saturation and brightness.

Both are simple, easy and quick.

First, to use the Doge Tool option, simply select the Dodge Tool for the side tool bar in Photoshop Elements. Typically it’s at the bottom of the tool bar and looks like a round push pin.

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Select the size and opacity of your brush in the upper tool bar. Be conservative and lower your opacity and make sure the brush is not too big. Then lightly “brush” over the teeth, taking care not to get the gums or lips. You’ll notice the teeth will immediately brighten. Now only if it were that simple in real life!

The second option requires an extra step. Select the Magic Wand tool from the side tool bar. It looks like a magic wand.

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Then click on the teeth while holding down the space bar until the area of teeth are selected.

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Then go to Enhance (upper tool bar), Adjust Color, Adjust Hue/Saturation.

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Decrease the saturation a little (to remove the yellow) and increase the brightness just a little (maybe +2 or +3).

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Keep an eye on your photo as you make these adjustments so that it looks natural and nice.

My daughter’s teeth are actually pretty white so I rarely have to brighten them, however, when she’s with a friend, sometimes the difference is noticeable and distracting. For these close-ups I adjusted her friend’s teeth just a little so that they didn’t look ‘yellow’ in comparison. Do you notice the difference? Hopefully it’s subtle and gives him a little extra sparkle. Winking smile

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Go ahead and try using a photo filter and brighten those teeth – small changes that may make your photos a little extra nice. You’ll get plenty of practice on all those indoor holiday photos!

P.S. the title graphic was created with Kaye Winiecki’s Framed Affection elements kit.