Photo Editing Basics in Photoshop Elements


One of the best gifts my husband ever gave me is my Photoshop Elements 11 (oh… and my iPad – thanks honey).

As an amateur photography enthusiast, it is an essential tool and so easy to use. It can take your dark, underexposed photos and give them a refreshing ‘natural’ glow, or convert colour to black and white, crop out unwanted background and just so much more. So much that even I haven’t uncovered probably 90% of what it is capable of yet.

However I am going to share with you my go to technique for quick photo edits which makes a massive difference overall. Because lets face it, how many of you end up with photos like the one below often? I know I do.


Start by opening up your photos in Photoshop Elements. I use Photoshop Elements 11 which isn’t the latest but it is recent and similar to the couple of versions before and after. There may be a few subtle differences in how it looks though.

With the photo you wish to edit on the active screen, go to the Expert editing screen – you will find the 3 tabs at the top – Quick, Guided and Expert. Expert should be the 3rd tab.

Your screen should look something like below.

Go to the side menu where there is a thumbnail of your photoΒ in PSE 11, this is on the right.

Right mouse click on this and choose duplicate layer. You can rename this to anything you like however I went with the auto names.

Do this twice. You will now have 3 ‘layers’ to work with, as below.


Click on your top layer so it is highlighted like above, then click on the dropdown menu above this where it is labelled ‘Normal’.

Scroll down and choose ‘Screen’. Your main image will become brighter.




Click on the second duplicated copy of your image at the right.

Repeat as above, however this time select ‘Soft Light’.

There will now be darker shades added to your photo.


Now it is up to your individual preferences on how light or dark you want your image to be, so each of your new layers highlighted one at a time, you can adjust the Opacity.

You will see the percentage box next to the drop down box you selected earlier on the right above your layers.

As you will see below I adjusted my soft light to be quite a low opacity percentage as the photo was very over exposed. I left my screen at 100%. The levels will depend on the exposure of your original photograph and your individual preferences.


And below is the edited end result – not a perfect edit but a very quick and simple way to improve a photograph when you are short on time or have only a basic knowledge of Photoshop capabilities.


And another before and after:


Big difference with little technical skill required!

What are your favourite quick tips for photo editing?










4 thoughts on “Photo Editing Basics in Photoshop Elements

  1. Lovely editing technique you got there, and the final photo looks very clear. Your daughter looks like a superstar πŸ˜€ I use Picasa when editing my photos. First off I tend to auto adjust the exposure on my photos, then usually boost colours and lighten the foreground or background as I like. I have heard so many good things about Adobe Elements, sounds like you’re enjoying it too. Hope to get it in a few months.

    Now we all know it isn’t the end of the world when we take a “bad” photo πŸ˜‰


  2. Your after pics looks great!! I use the editing software in my Mac, which isn’t the best but can certainly do a few things. I typically always lighten indoor photos and also prefer giving definition to them all. πŸ™‚


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