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Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos
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Why use adjustment layers?


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Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos

with Jan Kabili

Video: Why use adjustment layers?

Some of the most common adjustments to lighting and color can be applied either as a direct adjustment from the Enhance menu at the top of the Expert Edit workspace, or as an Adjustment Layer. I strongly suggest that you use an Adjustment Layers whenever you have a choice, because they're so flexible and they're nondestructive of the original photo. To show you what I mean, I've opened my Layers panel by clicking the Layers button in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. And here I have an image with two layers--the gray building is on the top layer, the brown building on the bottom layer.
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  1. 6m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
    3. Overview of the editing workspaces
      3m 34s
  2. 43m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 21s
    2. Making the most of the tools in Elements
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging the panels
      4m 32s
    4. Zooming and panning
      4m 3s
    5. Viewing multiple photos
      3m 51s
    6. Undoing
      5m 15s
    7. Cropping
      3m 46s
    8. Resizing
      7m 18s
    9. Saving images and examining formats
      6m 2s
  3. 19m 23s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 59s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      4m 33s
    3. Creating new layers
      6m 51s
  4. 38m 28s
    1. Why use selections?
      4m 20s
    2. Selecting with the marquee tools
      3m 56s
    3. Selecting with the lasso tools
      6m 40s
    4. Selecting by color and tone
      6m 22s
    5. Refining a selection
      4m 51s
    6. Selecting hair
      5m 42s
    7. Hiding content with a layer mask
      6m 37s
  5. 46m 54s
    1. Why use adjustment layers?
      5m 15s
    2. Adjusting color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 32s
    3. Correcting lighting with a Levels adjustment layer
      3m 32s
    4. Adjusting part of an image with an adjustment layer
      5m 19s
    5. Exploring auto adjustments
      3m 55s
    6. Improving shadows and highlights
      2m 14s
    7. Removing a color cast
      1m 47s
    8. Fine-tuning with Color Curves
      3m 16s
    9. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    10. Correcting camera distortion
      5m 32s
    11. Reducing noise
      2m 56s
    12. Sharpening
      6m 10s
  6. 20m 51s
    1. Creating a panorama
      5m 6s
    2. Merging bracketed exposures
      6m 0s
    3. Removing people from a scene
      5m 25s
    4. Combining group shots
      4m 20s
  7. 29m 24s
    1. Removing blemishes
      3m 42s
    2. Reducing wrinkles and circles
      4m 16s
    3. Enhancing eyes
      5m 19s
    4. Removing red-eye
      3m 15s
    5. Adjusting skin tone
      2m 21s
    6. Removing dust spots
      4m 7s
    7. Removing content
      6m 24s
  8. 52m 36s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      5m 18s
    2. Using the latest Camera Raw controls
      3m 16s
    3. Camera Raw basics
      6m 22s
    4. Making use of the histogram
      3m 45s
    5. Setting white balance
      3m 44s
    6. Adjusting lighting
      4m 28s
    7. Adjusting color saturation
      2m 9s
    8. Cropping and straightening
      3m 58s
    9. Reducing noise
      3m 33s
    10. Sharpening
      3m 38s
    11. Synchronizing edits to multiple photos
      3m 36s
    12. Outputting from Camera Raw
      6m 14s
    13. Using Camera Raw with JPEGs
      2m 35s
  9. 48s
    1. Next steps
      48s

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Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos
4h 17m Beginner Nov 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Go beyond the automatic editing features in Adobe Photoshop Elements and find out how to make sophisticated edits using the Expert Edit mode. In this course, author, teacher, and photographer Jan Kabili explores the core features of the Expert Edit mode, from making exposure adjustments, retouching, and compositing images, to adding text. The course also takes a close look at adjusting photos with Adobe Camera Raw, included with Elements 11.

Topics include:
  • Arranging the panels and interface
  • Cropping and resizing photos
  • Creating new layers
  • Refining selections
  • Hiding content with a layer mask
  • Using adjustment layers
  • Correcting color, lighting, and contrast
  • Converting a color photo to black and white
  • Creating a panorama from multiple photos
  • Retouching blemishes and wrinkles
  • Making adjustments in Camera Raw
Subjects:
Photography Retouching
Software:
Photoshop Elements Elements
Author:
Jan Kabili

Why use adjustment layers?

Some of the most common adjustments to lighting and color can be applied either as a direct adjustment from the Enhance menu at the top of the Expert Edit workspace, or as an Adjustment Layer. I strongly suggest that you use an Adjustment Layers whenever you have a choice, because they're so flexible and they're nondestructive of the original photo. To show you what I mean, I've opened my Layers panel by clicking the Layers button in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. And here I have an image with two layers--the gray building is on the top layer, the brown building on the bottom layer.

I'd like to brighten and increase the contrast of the content of both layers, so I'll select the gray building layer, and I'm going to add an Adjustment Layer above that layer. To do that, I'll go up to the Create Adjustment Layer icon here at the top of the Layers panel, I'll click, and I'll move down to the brand of Adjustment Layer that I want. In this case I'm going to choose a simple Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer. That does two things: it creates a new Adjustment Layer above whichever layer was selected in Layers panel--in this case at the top of the layer stack--and, it opens the Adjustment panel to the controls for that kind of adjustment.

This is a floating panel, so if it's covering a part of my image, I can click on its title bar and move it to wherever I want it on my screen. Right now my Adjustment Layer isn't doing anything to the image. I'd like to brighten the image and increase the contrast, which means to increase the difference between the bright and dark areas, which often gives a photo more punch. So I'll drag this Brightness slider over to the right and I'll drag the Contrast slider over to the right too. Notice that that change is affecting both the gray building on its layer and the brown building on its layer, because by default an Adjustment Layer affects the content of all layers beneath it in the layer stack.

One of the major advantages of using an Adjustment Layer like this over a direct adjustment is that an Adjustment Layer is not destructive of the content of other layers. So whatever changes I make in this adjustment layer don't directly change the pixels in the gray building layer or the brown building layer below. And you can see if I make the Brightness/ Contrast Adjustment Layer invisible for a moment by clicking its eye icon, that those two layers are just as they were at the beginning. They haven't been directly changed by my Adjustment Layer, which I'm going to turn back on by clicking its eye icon again.

Another advantage of Adjustment Layers is that they're re-editable, which is not true of direct adjustments. So let's say that I close the Brightness/Contrast controls and I've selected another layer, I'm doing something else on it, and then I decide I really think this image is too bright now; I want to change the brightness. I can always go back and select my Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer, and then go to the left-most thumbnail the Layer thumbnail, and double-click that thumbnail. And that will reopen the panel with the Brightness/Contrast controls, and I can tweak those to taste.

I can reaccess the Adjustment Layer controls like this even after I close the image and reopen it, but--and this is important--as long as I saved it in a format that retains layers. That means in the PSD format or in the TIFF format, but not in the JPEG format or the PNG or GIF formats, because JPEG, PNG and GIF formats flatten all the layers in a file, so the Adjustment Layers would no longer be accessible. Adjustment Layers are more flexible than direct adjustments in other ways too. For example, I could get a before and after view of my adjustment by going to the Adjustment Layer and turning its eye icon on and off as you've seen me do.

Or, with an Adjustment Layer, I can reduce the strength of an adjustment I've made by selecting the Adjustment Layer and going up to the Opacity field at the top of the Layers panel and clicking on the Opacity layer and dragging over to the left. Now I mentioned that by default an Adjustment Layer affects the content of all layers below it, but like any layer I can move an Adjustment Layer up or down in the Layers panel and that will change which layers it's affecting. So if I click and drag the Brightness/ Contrast Adjustment Layer beneath the gray building layer, now my adjustment is not affecting the gray building because its layer is above the adjustment layer.

The Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer is just affecting the brown building on the layer below. And if I drag the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer back up to the top of the stack, it will again affect both layers below it in the layer stack. I can also limit the effect of an Adjustment Layer to a particular layer by using the clipping icon at the bottom of the Adjustment panel, which is down here. So with my Adjustment Layer selected in the Layers panel I'm going to click this clipping icon--and you can see the clipping icon now on the Adjustment Layer as well--and this means that my adjustment is affecting just the gray building layer right below it.

It is no longer affecting the brown building layer too. If I would like that adjustment to affect the brown building also, then I'll remove the clipping icon by going back down to be Adjustment panel and clicking the clipping icon again. I can also limit the content affected by an Adjustment Layer by painting on the layer mask that comes with every Adjustment Layer, and I'll show you how to do that in the later movie in this chapter. That should give you a taste of the power of flexible, re-editable, nondestructive Adjustment Layers. In the next movies I'm going to show you how to use some specific kinds of Adjustment Layers to control the color and the lighting in a photograph.

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