Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Heart Photoshop Elements

As I've mentioned many times, my friends Amanda, Cathy, and I are beginning photographers. We've taken two photography classes, we know how to shoot in manual, we're starting to understand taking indoor photos. . . . But we still felt like something was missing in our photos. Amanda -- or maybe it was Cathy -- but it was most certainly not me -- decided that what we needed were better editing software and skills. As with everything new involving photography that is recommended to me, I immediately don't want to learn anything new. (Quite frankly, I would probably have no photography skills were it not for Amanda and Cathy coming up with classes, etc. and then my feeling compelled to participate.) So, as usual, I decided I wanted nothing to do with that and I let Amanda and Cathy talk about editing software and decided I would just work on taking better photos that didn't need editing. . . .

The more and more I listened to what Amanda and Cathy had to say, I was forced to see that they had a point. Editing can make a huge difference. One would think that I would be excited about something new, but I'm not. Just as I hated taking the first photography class, and as much as I disliked the second photography class, I truly did not want to have to learn something else. I'm very glad that I have the limited photography skills that I do, but I have NOT enjoyed the learning process. I find it quite painful and unpleasant -- but I do it because I want to keep taking better photos of the kids. I like the results and the time I spend with Cathy and Amanda, but not the process.

For Mother's Day, one of the gifts that Gary the kids (Rosemary in particular) gave me was Photoshop Elements 8. I loaded it onto my computer that night and was going to do some fabulous photo editing and make a post. Except I had a hard time with the whole photo editing thing. Photoshop Elements is considered "user friendly" (as opposed to the much more expensive, full-size Photoshop), but it was not user friendly to me in the least. As I do with all new photography things, I became overly frustrated and not just a little bit mad. I decided to put it aside until I had more time to devote to learning it. At the time, I sort of figured that would be, oh, a year from now . . . maybe. . . .

Fast forward a few weeks, and I'm on bedrest. I'm working, but working doesn't fill the whole day. So, I've decided to learn how to use Photoshop Elements. Especially since I'm not able to take a lot of photos right now, I decided this would be a good way to further my photography skills. I've been watching video tutorials, and reading blogs and blogposts, and finally after spending some time over the last week or so and all day today working on my Photoshop Elements skills I actually am starting to feel as though this whole process may be worth it. I have a LOT more to learn about Photoshop Elements, but I feel as though now I have enough of a foundation that I can do something productive with it.

In my early photos, I rarely did any editing. At most, I would crop a photo -- if I just had to crop it. I considered that going out of my way to edit something. Then, the more Amanda and Cathy talked about heavier editing, over the past month or so, occasionally I would try a little experimenting on my computer editing software and did some very rudimentary editing. Now with Photoshop Elements -- and my newfound love of actions for Photoshop Elements from Pioneer Woman, Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics, and CoffeeShop -- I feel like Photoshop Elements really can make my photos better in a way that I could not make them better otherwise.

Below are some examples. These are the same pictures that I posted a few weeks ago as backyard portraits. At the time, I thought my editing was pretty good . . . now not so much. In birth order, here are examples of the photo I took, my original rudimentary editing, my new editing from today with Photoshop Elements, and then a fun edit that I made today that seems to just work with the photo.

Here is the photo that I took of Piper, with no editing whatsoever:

Here is the editing that I did on my computer for the post a few weeks ago:

Here is the edited photo with my new Photoshop Elements skills:

And here is the photo edited in another way on Photoshop Elements, that I just really liked:

For Henry, here is the photo I took:

Here is my basic editing from a few weeks ago:

This is my new Photoshop Elements editing:

And here is another Photoshop Elements editing style that I just like with this photo:

And here is the photo I took of Rosemary:

My basic editing from a few weeks ago:

Editing from today with Photoshop Elements:

And another edit from today that just works for this photo:

I have several more video tutorials to watch and many more things to read about Photoshop Elements. Although I'd prefer to not be on bedrest and having these preterm labor issues, at least something good is coming of it! One day I'm going to be very glad that I have these skills. And now I can say that I probably appreciate Amanda and Cathy forcing it on me. Today I've paid them back by sending about 10 separate e-mails every time I learned something new that I thought I should share. They're being pretty good sports and somewhat humoring the pregnant woman, but I'm sure it's getting old!

By the way, knock on wood, I haven't had any more trips to the hospital since last Saturday night. I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday, and I'm hoping that will be my next medical visit -- and that I'll go straight home afterwards instead of being admitted to the hospital. Keep your fingers crossed for us.


Cathy said...

I heart it too! Your photos look FABULOUS!! You are getting really really good at this. Thank you for doing all the legwork and sharing your knowledge with us!

A Lovell said...

This sounds just like me...almost. I hate the learning part as well. I just want someone to show me how to do it without all the work and practice. Will got my Photoshop Elements for X-mas and it is still in the box because I dread the learning part so badly...and I don't plan to be on bedrest any time soon to motivate me. Hope you don't mind me commenting here...seemed easier than messaging you thru FB. amber

Heather said...

Amber -- comment away!!! If you got Elements for the purpose of editing photos, then shoot me a message with an e-mail address for you, and I'll compile all my e-mails to Amanda and Cathy in one to let you know what I've learned and where you can learn it most painlessly! There is SO much to learn. I am so glad that I only have Elements and not full-blown Photoshop or I would NEVER learn it, bedrest or not.