Photoshop Basics for Beginners – How to be professional photo editor? (Photoshop Tutorials included)

Does learning Photoshop photo editing makes you feel like digital photography is just so darn complicated?!

It happens to us all….and overwhelm sets in. Okay, it’s not that bad, otherwise, no one would be using it, right?

So, if you’re into photography or in the field of design, you will almost certainly be familiar with one of Adobe’s famous photo editor “Adobe Photoshop.”

As far as post processing/photo retouching is concerned, having photoshop basics knowledge can be of great help although if you have other software you use for post processing (e.g. Lightroom), at least you’ll understand some of the basics.

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Photoshop for Beginners – Why Even Use Photoshop?

Do not misunderstand the usage of photoshop in photography. Even with applying amazing photoshop effects, one cannot convert a badly composed and shot image into a perfect and outstanding one. Sorry.

When it comes to photography, what is photoshop should be used for is to post process your image to give it a pop – to make it look stunning; in other words, bring out the hidden details already existing in the file thereby converting a good photo into a great photo.

On the other hand, if you’re into photo manipulation, then by using photoshop, you can create some amazing digital art using the various creative tools that the software provides.

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When i was new to photoshop and wanted to be professional photo editor to enhance my photography but I wasn’t so motivated to invest a lot of money in the beginning, because I found that Photoshop classes out there are amazingly expensive, so I decided to take this forward with online courses, but my blocker this time was that i found too many online courses on the internet and actually it was a bit difficult to choose wisely something really worth for what you pay with no regrets, until one of my friends or actually my (photography mentor) recommended me this great Tutorials: Learn Photo Editing I found it really rich and delivered to me everything about photoshop in a very simple way for a beginner like me that time. And from that point my photo editing skills got massively improved from photography composting side and also it ope my eyes to Digital Art work and I was then able to create an artistic image like this one above – so if you are looking for something to begin with, with here I help you get started with this tutorial i mentioned.

All what included in this photoshop tutorial are easily doable, and you will see quite a huge difference between the before and after images after post processing.

Make Photo Processing Easy with Layers

Photoshop is a very powerful tool and basically, you make use of layers to accomplish various tasks as you improve your skills. In the layers panel, you can create a new layer and delete any layer.

There are also options to drag layers to any desired positions, merge layers and create groups among layers. All these help you accomplish different tasks in an easier manner, within photoshop.

Photoshop lets you work non-destructively, which means, you do not work on the background layer, which is your original image, but rather add layers and adjustment layers for the different changes that you make while processing.

The adjustment layer is a layer that is created where you make edits without making changes to the original layer, that is your background layer. The effect of layers can be switched on or off using the eye icon next to each layer.

In order to get around photoshop, you do need to be familiar with the workspace, i.e. the toolbox, menu and the palettes which will greatly enhance your working experience in Photoshop.

The tool box, the adjustment panel and layers panel have most of the tools needed for basic processing.

The basic workflow that a photographer would follow to post process the images would be,

  1. Straighten and crop the image
  2. Remove spots
  3. Noise removal
  4. Adjust exposure and contrast
  5. Adjust shadows and highlights
  6. Adjust the saturation and vibrance
  7. Sharpen if required

Before you get into processing your images, a good understanding of what the above mean is very important. For example, saturation and vibrance may seem to mean the same, but they are very different. Read to find out what they are and how they can be accomplished.

A Quick Tip:

If you are using the creative cloud version of Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop CC, then the Camera Raw filter in the filters Menu will let you work on your images flexibly, starting from correcting white balance to lens correction, etc.

When you are working with RAW files, it is recommended to use camera raw within photoshop for easier post-processing. You have all the tools ready on a single window, rather than you having to go through menus and other “tools within tools” in the toolbox.

 

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Straightening is a process where you get the image straight. That is you get the horizon straight for landscapes, the verticals and horizontals right for architecture and with any other images, you just get the lines straight unless you leave it otherwise for creative purpose.

When straightening, it is best to do the lens correction and perspective correction as well, so that you get the image ready for the cropping part. I personally prefer the cropping tool for straightening too as it is a straightforward one.

Another Quick Tip:

To quickly straighten an image, use the ruler tool in the “Eyedropper” group.
Choose the ruler tool and drag a line across the horizon or any vertical line that needs straightening.
Then, “Image” menu -> Image Rotation -> Arbitrary, photoshop corrects the horizontals or verticals for you. Crop off the transparent area around.

For lens correction and perspective correction, “Filter” Menu -> Lens Correction -> Auto-Correction, lets you choose the lens to correct distortions, whereas, Filter Menu -> Lens Correction -> Custom Tab, is where you will have all the sliders to correct perspectives, add vignettes, etc.

Cropping is where you crop out unwanted elements from the frame to get a pleasing and compelling composition. This tool can be found in the tool box.

You create a frame free of clutter, with the elements positioned in the correct areas in the frame. Sometimes adjustments are made in this step to follow certain compositional rules of photography, like for example, the rule of thirds and so on.

Tip: Be mindful not to frame an image in camera, thinking you can make the composition better in post. As much as possible, compose your frame perfectly in the camera itself, unless you are genuinely restricted or limited by gear or location issues.

The Spot healing tool helps you to remove unwanted specks and spots from images. With portraits, it helps to remove spots and blemishes, and in landscapes and other images, it helps to remove specks due to dust or dirt in the sensor.  (see the below before and after images)

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These dust spots become more prominent in the brighter regions of the landscape as landscapes are usually shot with a smaller aperture.

The radius of the brush can be adjusted according to the size of the speck or spot (keep it a little bigger than the spot). Just click on the spot and photoshop works on healing that part of the image by sampling from around the retouched area to colour match and correct.

The red-eye removal tool is another important tool that comes within the group where the spot healing tool is. Use this to remove red eyes in portraits.

Once the tool is selected, select the pupil size and darken amount (the default settings should work just fine). Using the tool, drag a box around the pupil and release, the red-eye should be gone.

Noise reduction can be done in a simple way using the “reduce noise” filter. “Filter” menu -> Noise -> Reduce noise. You can reduce color noise and sharpen details here. Do not overdo this, but work with the sliders to find the settings that work best for the image.

Exposure and contrast issues with the images can be corrected using the levels and curves in the Image menu. Image -> Adjustments -> Levels or Curves. You can also use the adjustment panel to correct these.

Shadows and highlights can be adjusted to work with the very dark or very bright regions of the images. To access this, Image -> Adjustments -> Shadows/Highlights

Saturation and vibrance play a very important role in bringing out the colors lost in the image. Do not get hooked on to increasing these settings for no reason because as a beginner, enhancing the colors of an image may look very cool.

In order to make the best use of these tools, you need to know the difference between vibrance and saturation.

Vibrance tool increases the intensity of the more muted colors and leaves the normally saturated colors as they are. It is more like filling in colors where they are missing. This usually does not affect the skin tones that much.

The Saturation tool, on the other hand, increases the intensity of all the colors in your image, be it muted ones or normally saturated ones. It also makes the skin tones look very orange and unnatural. So using this tool has to be kept to a minimum unless the image lacks color.

Work with the vibrance tool too, and if you still feel that the image needs a color boost, increase the saturation a tad.

Sharpen tool is used to bring in more details to the images, helping them look sharper. A very effective way to sharpen the image is

  • Duplicate the selected layer (Ctrl + J for Windows and Cmd + J on a Mac)
  • For the Duplicate layer, On the Filter Menu -> Other -> High Pass
  • Adjust the Radius Value here so that you just see the edges in the image and hit “Ok”
  • Change the blending mode to “Overlay”
  • Adjust the opacity to your liking or just leave it like that if the image looks good.

Vignette tool is one that is used to add dark or light edges to the image. In most cases, a darker edge works better and this technique is used to draw viewer’s attention to a certain part of the image without them getting distracted.

Our eyes tend to move towards the brighter parts of the image and hence this technique works well.

So, where do you find this tool in Photoshop?

Filter Menu -> Lens Correction -> Choose “Custom” tab -> and you find the lens correction, chromatic aberration, vignette, perspective correction tools here. A menu with some very useful settings here, especially for architectural photography!

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If you are on this this article and have read until this point, it’s because you are a motivated artist that wants to improve and you realize that to fully unleash your talent, you need the technical knowledge you might be missing to fully express it.

Click the image below and try out this tutorial called (Learn Photo Editing) it contains 36 Professional photoshop tutorials. which  I personally tried and found it really useful, covering all I needed to know about photoshop and it really took me to a higher advanced level in photo editing.

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Check here to see how my photography work got improved after learning photoshop.

Hope you find it useful, for any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment below and i will get to back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for reading…

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5 thoughts on “Photoshop Basics for Beginners – How to be professional photo editor? (Photoshop Tutorials included)

  1. mdhoffmannphoto says:

    Thanks for taking time to post this Adam – very helpful review. I’ve done most of the things you describe to enhance my images – except layering is still a mystery to me – I plan to experiment more with that. My favourite go-to photo-editing software is Cyberlink Photo-Director, then also use Adobe PhotoEssentias 14 and even MS 2006 Image Editor.

    Like

    • Adam Khaled says:

      Hi Mr. Hoffman, thank you so much for your valuable feedback. Regarding layering would you please specify what exactly you need to know about layers e.g (how to align them, how to generally use them, how merge them?) etc. and based on your feedback I will include this topic to the photoshop tutorials series I’m currently working on which will be provided on my YouTube channel soon 🙂
      I look forward to your reply. Kind Regards.

      Liked by 1 person

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