How To Do A Simple Edit With Photoshop Elements

I love the photos I made of the bobcat in Yellowstone National Park several weeks ago and I featured several of them on a previous blog.

I thought it might be instructive to show how a simple edit with Photoshop Elements can improve an image. Professional photographers usually do at least some simple editing to make their images better. You can too.

So let’s take a look at the bobcat photos I took in Yellowstone. They were all grab shots from much further away than I wanted to be. I shot with a speed of 1/250 of a second because….remember the rule… animals move. Shooting with a shutter speed of 1/250 will stop the movement. I had my zoom set for 270mm—as long as my zoom goes. For that length, I either needed a tripod, or my shutter speed set to 1/350 of a second, (to stop any camera shake), but I gambled that I could hold the camera steady enough and I needed the extra stop of light I got with 1/250.

Since I wasn’t sure how to meter with the bobcat so far away, I set my controls for the shutter speed of 1/250 and let the computer in the camera choose the aperture. If I’d had more time (I didn’t), I would have tried for a manual exposure to help balance all the white snow. I think the computer did a good job.

big sky 169-F

So what did I do to my bobcat photos in  Photoshop Elements to get some final images that I like?

Photoshop Elements is really easy to use, so it’s a good editing program if you don’t want to spend hours manipulating your images. You can do a simple, quick fix and really improve the end result. Here’s what I mean. Let’s start with this unedited photo of the bobcat walking across a log.

What bobcat?

big sky 230

Ok. For starters, the photo is too far away for the viewer to see what is going on.

So let’s use the crop tool to fix that.

big sky 230-crop

Ah. Good. Now I have a nice photo of the cat. But it’s much too light. So I’m going to pick the darken highlights editing tool and play around with it (it toggles lighter and darker) until I get the color of the cat as good as I can get it.

big sky 230-darker


Better. Now there is only one more thing I want to try, the sharpening tool. This one really is amazing. It will take a soft photo and make it really sharp. Again I toggle the sharpening switch back and forth to get the amount of sharpness that works. I can’t go too sharp or the photo will become too pixelated  (the image is sharpened so much that the colored square display elements that comprise the photograph are visible) so I have to compromise.

Our computer screens are not calibrated for photographs with a lot of resolution, so you may have to just take my word for it that the sharpening tool feature really works.

big sky 230-pixulated


And that’s it. Of course if you want to really be an expert and drive yourself nuts too, there is lots more you can do.

But I think it’s good to know that with some simple manipulations, you can really make a photograph into a great image.

Good shooting!


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