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Several of you have asked for a brief resume of how to tackle the basics of
Photoshop Elements and maybe print out the email instructions to use as a memory jogger as you work through the procedures, so here goes! The simple method is shown in black, with a few other possibilities shown in blue italic text. All versions of Photoshop will be very similar to use and practice will be rewarded!!

Tutorial Number 01

Getting Started

Go to the File heading at the top left corner of the screen, then open the image you wish to work on.

An even better way to select your images is to use the File Browser which can be found in the drop down menu under "Window". Tick File Browser to display it on the work area and you can then drag this by clicking with the left mouse button on the blue strip at the top of the browser, hold down the button and move the box towards the top left of the work area. Now make the browser bigger by dragging the little triangle on the bottom right hand corner to cover roughly three quarters of the work area. Next click on the triangle next to "More" near the top right hand corner and select the "Dock to Palette" option, this will place the File Browser in the palette and it will then open to the same size each time. All the sections of the browser are resizable by dragging on various edges and corners, try it!

In Elements 2 there are more options for changing the size of the thumbnails displayed and also the file info and EXIF information saved by your digital camera, great for checking how and when the pix were taken.

When the image appears on screen click on the
maximise button, the middle of the three buttons at the top right hand corner of the frame around the open image, then hold down the Control key and tap the Zero on the number keys along the top of your keyboard. This should make the image fill the screen and give you a better idea of any work that will need to be done to improve your photo.
 
There are several different ways to enlarge and reduce the size of the screen image, the Navigator option allows you to use the sliding scale by dragging the triangle to the left or right and also by click in the squares at each end of the scale to increase or decrease the percentage size. You can also hold down the control key while you tap the Plus or Minus keys next to the Zero on the keyboard. Tapping the Zero while holding down the Control key will always fit the image to the available screen space. If you wish to select a small part of the image to work on, hold down the Space bar and the Control key at the same time and drag a box around the desired area on the screen with the mouse


  Levels Histogram number 1                                 Adjusted Black (Left Triangle), White (Right)
  Note readings in "Input Level Boxes" and exposure adjustment with middle triangle.

Usually the first thing to check is the Levels Adjustment Box, open by holding down the Control key and tapping the "L" key on the keyboard. This image shows few white pixels indicated by the right hand side of the histogram and also no black pixels on the left hand side. To adjust these just drag the left triangle towards the first part of the histogram to put more black into the image, drag the right hand triangle in the opposite direction to add more white. The overall exposure can then be fine tuned by dragging the centre triangle in each direction to make it lighter or darker. Click and unclick the preview button in the box to see the effect on the image.


Use the "Undo History", which can also be accessed from the "Window" tab, to flick backwards and forwards through all the stages of manipulation and check how each alteration affects the image. If you make an error and don't know how or what you did just check in this "Undo History" box and you should be able to go backwards to correct the mistake. You will find this feature
very useful as you progress along the learning curve.
Normally the default setting will remember up to your twenty last actions and you can click backwards and forwards through these to check how you have altered the image. When you are happy with the image it is a good idea to periodically "Clear Undo History" by clicking on the arrow next to "More" at the top right hand corner and selecting the command at the bottom of the drop down list that will appear. This will free RAM (Random Access Memory) which should keep your computer running quicker.

Unsharp Mask

You can sharpen the image with "Unsharp Mask" from the Filter heading along the top of Photoshop if necessary, try different settings to see the effect on the image and click OK when you are happy with the result.


Click the "Preview" box on and off to see the changes on the main image or place the mouse cursor over the small preview box and left click to see the effect in this small box.
If you place the cursor over any area in the main image and left click, this selected area will appear in the small preview box, another useful feature.
Be aware that oversharpening can create a halo effect around the shapes in the picture which can be undesirable.


At this stage save the image as a copy, go to
File, then select "Save As " from the drop down menu, when the next dialogue box opens, tick the "As a Copy" button and select which folder to save in. Also check the name you will be saving the image as. Click OK then select the JPEG compression when the next box opens, select Good or Maximum and click OK. The image will now be kept on your hard drive as a new image and when you close the image you have been using click "No" in the closing dialogue box to make sure you don't save the changes. This means you will keep the original intact should you need to make other changes at a later date.

The shortcut for "Saving as Copy" is to hold down the Control and Shift keys and then tap the "S" key, this will take you straight into the "Save as Copy" dialogue box and then continue as above.

We can cover cropping, filters, layers, in fact most of the features available to you with little articles like this.