Basic Photo Corrections (Chapter 2, Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book (2021 release)

Opening a File with Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge is a visual file browser. From within Photoshop, you can open Bridge by choosing File > Browse in Bridge. After Bridge opens, click the Folders tab in the upper left corner and then browse to the folder you wish to access and then if you wish to use this folder a lot in the future, you can choose File >Add to Favorites. Select the Favorites tab and then double click the desired folder to open it.

Straightening and Cropping an Image

Use the 02Start.tif file (in Canvas, in the Photoshop section, in the Lesson02 folder). Double click the file to open the file in Photoshop). Choose File>Save As - choose Photoshop from the Format menu - the file will be saved in the .psd format.

  1. Zoom in so the image takes up the entire screen
  2. In the Tools panel, select the Crop Tool (3rd from the top, in the first column).
  3. In the Options bar
  1. First we'll straighten the image. The step we are about to do is an example of where it is useful to zoom in before doing an operation so as to do it more precisely. So use the Zoom tool (bottom of first column).

    Click the Straighten icon in the options bar - the pointer changes to the Straighten Tool.
  2. Click at the top left corner of the photo and press the mouse button as you drag a straight line across the top edge of the photo and then release. Photoshop straightens the image so that the line you drew is now parallel with the top of the image area. (A line that defines either the vertical or horizontal axis of the image will work.)

    Now we'll trim the white border and scale the image.
  3. Drag the corners of the crop grid inward to the corners of the photo itself. If you need to adjust the position of the photo, click and drag it within the crop grid.
  4. Press Enter to accept the crop.
  5. To see the image dimensions, click the ">" symbol at the bottom of the application on the left. Choose Document Dimensions from the pop-up window and the height, width, and pixels per inch will be displayed to the left of the pop up menu.

Adjusting the color and tone

  1. Click Curves in the Adjustments panel (the third icon in the first row - as you cursor over an icon, the name of the icon will appear above and to the left of the icons) to add a Curves adjustment layer.
  2. Select the White Point tool on the left side of the Properties panel - this is the third "eyedropper" icon from the top - cursoring over an icon will display a description of the icon to the right). Specifying a white point changes all the colors in the image. The white point is the color that Photoshop defines as pure white and adjusts all other colors accordingly. To set an accurate white point, select an area of the image that should be the brightest neutral area of the image that should contains detail. Again, zooming in may be useful here.
  3. A good white point for this picture would be the white stripe on the girl's dress - click this. Try clicking other white areas to see the effect.
  4. Click the Levels icon in the Adjustments panel (the second icon in the first row) to add a Levels adjustment layer. Leave the slider at the bottom untouched. The Levels histogram displays the range of dark and light colors. The left triangle represents a black point (the darkest in the image), the right triangle represents the white point (the lightest in the image), and the middle triangle represents the midtones.
  5. Drag the left triangle (black point) under the histogram to the right where significant shadow tones start to appear. Our value was 15.
  6. Drag the middle triangle a little to the right to adjust the midtones. Our value was 0.90
  7. In the layers panel, observe that you now have three layers - the Background layer, the Curves layer, and the Levels layer. If you flatten the image, it will reduce the file size and you can still make changes to the image, but you can no longer adjust the edits you made in the Curves and Levels layers.
  8. In Photoshop 2021, you can see the current file size by clicking the > sign at the bottom left and choosing Document Sizes. It is approximately 9MB.

    Using Adjustment layers allows you to experiment with changes without permanently modifying the pixels in your image.
  9. Choose Layer>Flatten Image - the adjustment layers merge with the Background layer. Flattening the image is not necessary for the next step, but if you do not flatten the image, you must select the bottom Layer 0 for the next step. After flattening, the image is about 5.61MB.

Using the Spot Healing Brush Tool

The Spot Healing Brush tool samples pixels around the retouched area and matches the texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of the sample pixels to the pixels being healed.

  1. Zoom in to see the crease clearly (it's vertical, at the left). You may not be able to see the entire crease when you are zoomed in, but you can reposition the view as you work, without switching tools, by using the scroll bars, or hold down the spacebar to temporarily use the Hand tool.
  2. In the Tools panel, select the Spot Healing Brush tool (4th down from the top, in the second column)
  3. In the Options bar at the top, open the Brush pop up panel by clicking on the down arrow to the left of the word "Mode". and specify a Size of about 25px and 100% Hardness. In Photoshop, the greater the hardness, the crisper the line. Make sure Content-Aware is selected in the options bar.
  4. In the image window, drag the Spot Healing Brush down from the top of the crease. As you drag, the stroke appears black, but when you release the mouse, the painted area is healed.
  5. Zoom in to see the white hair in the upper right area of the image. Use the Spot Healing Brush to paint over the hair.
  6. Save your work

Applying a content-aware patch

Use the Patch tool to remove unwanted elements from an image. You'll use a content aware patch to remove an unrelated person from the right side of the photo.

  1. In the Tools panel, select the Patch tool, hidden under the Spot Healing Brush tool.
  2. In the options bar, choose Content-Aware from the Patch menu, and makes sure that Sample All Layers is selected. Type 4 into the Structure slider.

    The Structure menu determines how closely the patch reflects the existing image patterns. You can choose from 1 to 7, with 1 allowing the loosest adherence to the source structure and 7 the strictest.
  3. Drag the Patch tool around the boy and his shadow, as closely as possible. You may want to zoom in to see him more clearly.
  4. Click within the area you've just selected and drag it to the left; Photoshop shows a preview of the content that will replace the boy. Keep dragging to the left until the preview area no longer overlaps the area occupied by the boy, but without overlapping the woman or the girl she's holding. Also pay attention to the vertical placement of the image. Release the mouse button when the patch is positioned where you want it.
  5. Choose Select>Deselect.

Repairing Areas with the Clone Stamp Tool

The Clone Stamp tool uses pixels from one area of an image to replace pixels in another part of the image.

You can remove unwanted objects from your image, but can also fill in missing areas in photographs you scan from damaged originals.

  1. Select the Clone Stamp Tool (5th from the top in the second column) and select a 60px brush with 30% hardness. Both are set by clicking the small arrow pointing down, right below the menu at the top. Make sure that the Aligned option is selected.
  2. Move the Clone Stamp tool to an area where the top of the bridge wall is smooth. That's the area you want to copy from, to smooth out the area that was patched.
  3. Alt-Click to start sampling that part of the image. When you press Alt, the pointer appears as cross-hairs.
  4. Release the Alt key and drag the Clone Stamp tool across the top of the bridge wall in the patched area to even it out, and then release the mouse button

    If "Aligned" is selected with the Clone Stramp tool, each time you start painting, the sampling will occur relative to the original start point (when you alt-clicked). If "Aligned" is not selected, each time you paint, it will begin from the same source point and thus could paint the same thing. (Demonstrate by saving the file under a new name and then using the source point as the white section on the girl's dress.)

Sharpening the Image

The last task you might want to do when retouching a photograph is to sharpen the image. There are several ways to do this in Photoshop, but the Smart Sharpen filter gives you the most control. Because sharpening can emphasize artifacts (things that don't belong in the picture), you'll remove those first.

  1. Zoom in to about 400% to see the boy's shirt clearly. The colored dots you see are artifacts of the scanning process.
  2. Choose Filter>Noise>Dust & Scratches
  3. In the Dust & Scratches dialog box, leave the default settings with a Radius of 1 pixel and Threshold at 0 and click OK.

Now that the artifacts are gone, you can sharpen the image

  1. Choose Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen
  2. In the Smart Sharpen dialog box, make sure that Preview is selected, so you can see the effect of the settings you adjust in the image window.

    You can drag inside the preview window in the dialog box to see different parts of the image and use the plus and minus buttons below the thumbnail to zoom in and out.
  3. Make sure that Lens Blur is chosen in the Remove menu - Lens Blur provides finer sharpening of detail and reduced sharpening halos.
  4. Drag the Amount slider to about 60% to sharpen the image
  5. Drag the Radius slider to about 1.5

    The Radius value determines the number of pixels surrounding the edge pixels that affect the sharpening. The higher the resolution, the higher the Radius setting should usually be. You can use the Zoom icons in the Smart Sharpen panel to see the effect more clearly; I found very little change. When you are satisfied with the results, click OK to apply the Smart Sharpen filter.
  6. Choose File > Save.

Revised: October 26, 2021. Comments to William Pegram,