As you'll discover in the rest of the book, Photoshop Elements is a sophisticated image editor, enabling anyone to make photo corrections that would have been absurdly difficult years ago. But sometimes you don't want to be an image expert. Let the computer do the work for you, analyzing photos and correcting them automatically.
Elements offers a couple ways to get started. In the Organizer, the Fix pane provides one-click automatic fixes, which may be all you need. In the Editor, the Edit Quick pane offers sliders for making common adjustments.
When you don't want to mess with the particulars, or when you know that a photo needs just a bit of tweaking but you want a bit more control over the adjustments, turn to the Quick Fix features. You can experiment on your photo—ranging from slight tonal changes to radical tints and lighting adjustments—and then undo those changes if they seemed better in your mind's eye than they look on the screen.
The concepts behind the tools in Quick Fix, such as adjusting levels and sharpening, are dealt with later in the book. Use this chapter as a jumping-off point.
Making Quick Fix Edits
When you want Elements to take over and make corrections according to its analysis of a photo, the speediest method is directly in the Organizer.
To edit photos in the Fix pane:
- In the Organizer, select a photo to edit.
- Click the Fix tab to view the Fix pane (Figure 4.1).
Figure 4.1 The Fix pane includes automatic tools for correcting common aspects of photos.
Click a button to apply an automatic fix. For example, if the color of your photo seems off, clicking the Auto Color button makes Elements examine the color values and change them without any additional input from you.
If you're working on a RAW image file, Elements asks you to choose a file format that the program can edit directly; the changes are then applied to a copy of the original.
Using the Quick Fix editor
Quick Fix is a component of the Editor workspace and gives you a bit more control than the buttons in the Fix pane.
To edit photos in Quick Fix:
- In the Organizer, select one or more photo thumbnails.
- From the Fix drop-down menu above the Organize bin, choose Quick Photo Edit. Or, right-click a photo and choose Edit with Photoshop Elements from the contextual menu. The Quick Fix workspace opens (Figure 4.2).
Figure 4.2 The Quick Fix workspace includes your image and a set of common photo manipulations.
- Open a file in the Editor and then choose Edit Quick from the Edit pane's drop-down menu.
To set view options:
- From the View menu located below the photo, choose whether you want to see the end result (After Only), the original (Before Only), or a comparison layout (the two Before and After options) (Figure 4.3).
Figure 4.3 The Before and After options offer split-screen views of how fixes are affecting the photo.
Use the Zoom field and slider to specify how zoomed-in you want to be (Figure 4.4). In the Before and After views, the zoom level applies to both versions.
Figure 4.4 Use the Zoom field or slider to view the photo close-up.
When the Zoom or Hand tool is active, you can also click the Actual Pixels, Fit Screen, or Print Size buttons to switch to those zoom levels.
- If Elements did not rotate your image correctly during import (or if you just prefer a skewed worldview), click the Rotate buttons to turn it clockwise or counterclockwise in 90-degree increments.
Applying Quick Fixes
The following tools perform common image correction tasks, but we want to start with the most important command first: Reset.
To reset and undo changes:
- After making an adjustment using the tools described in this chapter, click the Cancel button that appears in the tool's title bar (Figure 4.7).
Figure 4.7 Clicking the Cancel button restores the image to the state before you made the adjustment(s).
- Choose Undo from the Edit menu to undo the previous command.
- If you've made several edits and want to revert to the original image, click the Reset button. This removes any Quick Fix adjustments.
To select areas for applying edits:
- Select the Quick Selection tool from the toolbar.
- Draw within an area that you want to select. Elements makes a selection based on the colors of the pixels you drew upon (Figure 4.8).
Figure 4.8 Drawing with the Quick Selection tool creates a selection based on that area.
To apply lighting, color, and sharpening fixes:
- To apply fixes to a specific area of the image, use the Quick Selection tool to select an active area. Otherwise, skip to step 2.
- Click the Auto button for one or more fixes in the Smart Fix, Lighting, Color, Balance, or Detail panes.
- Drag the sliders for specific adjustments (such as Lighten Shadows) to fine-tune the settings (Figure 4.9).
Figure 4.9 Use the sliders associated with each type of fix to adjust the After image.
- Click the Commit button (the check mark) to apply the fixes.
To apply fixes using previews:
- Click the grid icon to the left of an adjustment slider to reveal thumbnails of the range of that fix's settings.
Move your pointer over a thumbnail to preview the edit (Figure 4.10).
Figure 4.10 The preview grid gives you an immediate sense of how the adjustment will appear.
The slider is still available for fine-tuning, but there's a better way. Click and drag left or right within the thumbnail to make smaller adjustments.
- Click the thumbnail to apply the setting.
To crop the image:
- Select the Crop tool from the toolbar.
- In the image's After version, drag to select the area you wish to keep (Figure 4.11).
Figure 4.11 Drag a selection using the Crop tool to keep only that area and discard the rest of the image.
- Click the Commit button (the check mark) that appears outside the selection to apply the crop.
To remove red eye:
- In the General Fixes area, click the Auto button next to Red Eye Fix.
- Select the Red Eye Removal tool from the toolbar.
- In the After version, drag a selection around the red-eye area. The fix applies when you release the mouse button.
To apply all edits and return to the Organizer:
- Choose File > Close, or click the close box in the upper-right corner of the workspace.
- When prompted, save your changes.