ROUND 3: Editing Photos in Photoshop

STEP 1: Open

Open one of your images in Photoshop by double-clicking on it in Adobe Bridge.

STEP 2: Rotate

Level the image by rotating the picture. Often, images are slightly un-level. To fix, go to Image>Image Rotation>Arbitrary. You are "adjusting the horizon" so it is level. Choose a number of degrees and clockwise/counter clockwise. If you don't like what you end up with, press Cmd+Z and then try it again until you're happy.

STEP 3: Crop

Next, crop the image down to just want you want - it should be focused on your subject. Use the crop tool - it's the 5th one from the top. Draw a box around what you want to keep, then press return and anything outside of the box will be deleted.

STEP 4: Open Adjustments

You'll need to add the adjustments window to your workspace if it's not already there. To do this, go to Window>Adjustments. You should see the adjustments panel open on the right side (shown in the image here).

STEP 5: Colors

In the adjustments panel, click the Levels button (circled in the small image to the right). Then, click the Auto button. From there, you'll make adjustments as needed. Try dragging the sliders to adjust the blacks, whites, & grays in your image. Then, change the channel to Red, and do the same to adjust those color tones. Do this again for each channel. Click OK when you're done.

STEP 5: Check Your Work

Open the Layers panel. If you can't find it, go to Window>Layers. You should see a Background layer (your original image) and a white layer above it. That layer above is where you created the levels adjustments. If you click on the eye next to it, you can turn those adjustments on or off to see if you like the changes you've made. Don't like it? Right-click on the white adjustments layer and select "Delete Layer." You can always try again!

STEP 6: Shadows & Highlights

First, look at the layers panel (if you don't see it, go to Window>Layers). Make sure you're on the Background layer by clicking on it. Then, go to Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights. Drag the sliders until you're happy with the changes. Then, click OK.

STEP 7: Optional Other Adjustments

If you want, you can play with other adjustments using the adjustments panel. When you click one of those adjustments tools, it will create a new adjustment layer that you can easily delete if you don't like your changes. You might want to play with Hue/Saturation, Vibrance, and Color Balance.

STEP 8: Sharpen

This is the last thing you want to do. Make sure all your other adjustments are done before you do this. To sharpen your image, make sure you have your background layer selected. Then, go to Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen. Settings:

  • Amount: around 70%
  • Radius: 1
  • Remove: Lens Blur
  • Reduce Noise: 10% should be fine, but you can adjust this to be higher too.

Click & hold down the preview image to see the before vs. after.

STEP 8: Save

Press Cmd+S to save OR go to File>Save As if you want to make a copy, rather than completely replacing the original with your new version. Make sure you choose 12 for maximum quality.