SIG Notes for February, 2015

First, I would like to thank the lovely people at Harvest bakery, Belmore Road, Balwyn for their donations of delicious things to eat for the Retirees SIG morning tea.


Hello everybody,

February has the overall theme for all the SIGs as an introduction for beginners. So the Feb SIG will be about starting with Photoshop Elements. It will begin with a question and answer session to determine a starting point for the day (Who is new and who already knows a few things).

The first demo/Q and A will be about using Organiser to get your pictures from your scanner/camera to your computer. Barbara will present an alternative to using the Organiser. Next there will be a short discussion of the three edit modes in PE (Quick, Guided, and Expert – that means us of course!)

For those of you just starting out with Photoshop (PS) or Photoshop Elements (PE), it is daunting when you face all the things that these programs can do for you – image editing, animation, web page creation, composition, scrap booking, painting and drawing from scratch,  graphic design, photo restoration, etc.  You are much better off choosing a small area of interest and becoming really good in that one area. Remember the expression “Jack of all trades and master of none”?

So please do not feel that you have to use all the features in PS or PE. Just learn to use the tools in your area of interest. This will make life much easier for you.

Trust me. It has taken me two years to absorb this bit of information. Now I really enjoy PS without feeling guilty that I am not an expert in all the different areas. Here is a link to my current area of interest –

Feedback from What Topic Do You Want Next sheets from the Dec, 2014 SIG.
The topics to be looked at and cussed and discussed over the next few months will be:

  • March – Basic Colour Theory
  • April – Brushes and what you can do with them!
  • May – Actions and Batch Processing
  • June – Using filters creatively
  • July – Saving and Printing

Getting started with Photoshop Elements (PE)

(1) Getting Photos into your computer

I have to confess here that I am not one of  those people that keep every photo and then show them as slide shows to any victims (I mean friends) that come by to visit. The effect is the same as inviting people by for an Amway presentation. You soon run out of friends. (Apologies to any Amway devotees)


I also suffer from either foot in mouth or falling asleep after the second slide. Comments such as the ones below mean that I do not get a repeat invite to see more slide shows.

  • “Look at the size of that zit on your forehead!”
  • or “Bill, I’m sorry if you found my treasured memories so boring that you fell asleep and then snored so loudly that no one could hear my riveting comments.”My reply, “Yep. they were really boring slides. How could you expect any one to stay awake during those?”

When AUSOM members tell me that they have 20,000 images and want to organise them, I suggest that they start with 100 photos a day to rate them and put them into albums.

This brings us to the task of which program to use to get the photos from your camera into your computer. PE comes with a program called Organiser that helps you to organise (Duh, Bill!) all your photos.

Here is a video to give you an overview of what you can do with the Organiser.


You might get a bit more detail from this website as well.

There are lots of other programs from Finder and iPhoto on the Mac to Windows Explorer and Picassa on a PC. So pick one that you are happy with and use that one. The one that I tend to use most is called Bridge which comes with Photoshop.

When you first open up PE, you get this on your screen.

Image 2 - open PE

Next, you get this after clicking on the organiser side of the PE box. For this part you may need to be patient. I wasn’t. Then I wondered why I had six versions of the program open after impatient clicking on the PE icon.

The other thing that is misleading is that you get the hand shaped icon showing up on the Upgrade Now  area but not in either of the two top boxes for Organiser/Editor. All that you will see is a slight darkening of the one that you want to pick.

Organiser opened

For further information about using Organiser in PE 11,12 or 13, give your search skills a try to find some video clips, pdfs, etc. If you find one that you think is of interest, please share it by posting it as a comment. To see an example, go  to the end of this post.

(2) The following information is from the Cambridge in Color website for camera happy snappers. This gives you an over view of the steps to follow as you edit your photos.

Each is listed roughly in the order that they should be applied:

  1. White Balance – temperature and tint adjustment sliders
  2. Exposure – exposure compensation, highlight/shadow recovery
  3. Noise Reduction – during RAW development or using external software
  4. Lens Corrections – distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations
  5. Detail – capture sharpening and local contrast enhancement
  6. Contrast – black point, levels and curves tools
  7. Framing – straighten and crop
  8. Refinements – color adjustments and selective enhancements
  9. Resizing – enlarge for a print or downsize for the web or email
  10. Output Sharpening – customized for your subject matter and print/screen size

Note: Clicking on any of the steps above (or scrolling down this page) will take you to a quick summary of the most important considerations for each. Within these sections, you can also click on links which will lead you to more in-depth reading on each topic.

The above steps are virtually universal, so most photo editing software should work. If you’ve captured your images using the RAW file format (highly recommended), then the order of the above steps isn’t as important, since they’ll be intelligently applied when you develop using your RAW software. Otherwise it’s critical that you follow the above sequence — especially with steps involving sharpening, resizing and noise reduction. Be careful though, extreme edits can easily cause image posterization with JPEG files.

(3) Using the PE edit modes
Remember that any changes that you make are saved with the original image. This means that if you change your mind about creating x-ray beams coming out of your grand daughter’s eyeballs, you still have the original information to go back to. You do not have to worry about keeping the original separate from the work in progress as in Photoshop.

The first thing to consider is that while you are still in the Organiser, there is a neat button called Instant Fix (Imagine Spock saying, “Computer, improve this image.”) All that this does is to give you access to the Smart Fix button.

Untitled.Part 3 - Instant Fix Button

The button is in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

This will bring up a second box that contains several buttons:

  • Crop
  • Contrast
  • Red Eye
  • a few more
  • and Smart Fix

Smart Fix is the tool that you can use to get PE to automatically “correct” the faults in your image. . It means that you are asking the computer to make any and all decisions for you. If you are not happy with the result, then just click on the Undo button or press control + Z (the keyboard shortcut).

Smart Fix Button

Some times the choices from using the Instant fix and Smart fix buttons can be not quite what you expected.

OK. That takes care of the introduction to using the organiser in PE.

To get into edit mode, start by clicking the Editor button at the bottom of the screen.

Editor Button

When you do this, your computer may open up with the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plugin. If it does, please just click on the Open Image button at the bottom right of your screen. This is a setting that you can control in your preferences folder.

ACR can be used to do just about all your image editing needs. But that will be the subject of another session.

Here is a screen shot that shows the Quick Edit mode. all the tools are shown on the right. You can choose from nine different degrees by using the slider at the top or by clicking the auto fix button.

Quick Edit Mode

Here is a screen shot for the Guided Edit Mode. This gives you more control over the different tools that you may want to use. The only problem now is that you need to become familiar with the different tools and what they do, when to use them and how to use them.

Guided Edit Mode

Last but not least is the Expert Mode which is about the same as using Photoshop.

For any questions that you have about the Expert Editor Mode, head on over to the Adobe PE Help page at

With that as the intro for this month, let’s look at one way that you might PE in the March Challenge.

March Photoshop challenge
Beginner Challenge 1 (Using PE in the Organiser Mode with Smart Fix)
Take one of your photos and edit it in PE using Instant Fix/Smart Fix in the organiser mode. Then send me the Before and After jpgs to me (

Beginner Challenge 2 (Using PE in the Organiser Mode with Crop, Contrast, Red Eye, Color, Levels, and Sharpen adjustments)
Take the same photo as before and edit it in PE using Crop, Contrast, Red Eye, Color, Levels, and Sharpen adjustments in the organiser mode instead of Smart Fix. Then send me the Before and After jpgs to me ( This should show the difference between the computer choices and your own choices in editing the image with Organiser.

Intermediate Challenge 3 (Using PE in the Guided Edit Mode with Touch ups (13 tools), Photo Effects (11 tools), and Photo Play (5 tools) adjustments)
Take the same photo as before and edit it in PE guided Edit Mode using Touch ups (13 tools), Photo Effects (11 tools), and Photo Play (5 tools) adjustments).

Please do not feel that you have to use all 29 tools at once in the same image.. Try not to get too carried away here.

Then send me the Before and After jpgs to me ( This should show a difference between the additional tools that you can use in PE Guided Edit mode.

Advanced Challenge 4 (Create a composite using a landscape, portrait and a texture)
Follow the detailed notes in the SIG challenge to see what you can come up with. Please include the source website for any photos or textures that you use that are not your own.

Then send your composite image as a jpg to me (

The March Challenge Demo!
More information about this can be found on the website at

(1) Open up a landscape image . Either one of yours or download an image that you like from here –

(2) Duplicate the layer (Control + J). This leaves the original image untouched as a locked background layer. So supposedly there is less chance of wrecking the only image and avoid the walk of shame. This is when you have to call the owner of the image and say, “I trashed your image. Can you send it to me again?”

(3) Cycle through your blending modes and choose one that you like.  I have chosen the Multiply blend mode. It is a bit excessive so that you can see the effect of a blend mode. Now it looks almost too dark.

duplicated landscape

Click on image to see full size


(4) Use the opacity slider to adjust the effect to your satisfaction. Here I have set the opacity to 50%.

duplicated landscape with 50 per cent opacity

(5) Next, open up a portrait as your second image. I am using this one.

(6) Press  V for the Move tool and click and drag the second image down a tad. Let go of the mouse button.


(7) Now click and drag the couple image into the landscape image. Notice how it comes in as another layer.

couple added to landscape and showing new layer.

(8) Close the second image.

(9) Use Control +T to make  the second image fit over the landscape. I have set the opacity to 50% so that you can see the two images together

couple added to landscape and transformed with 50 per cent opacity

(10) Repeat steps (3) and (4) with the blend modes and opacity slider to create an effect that rings your happy meter. I settled for Hard Light and 60% opacity.

(11) Use the move tool to reposition the couple if you want to. Or use Control +T to rotate the couple if you want to.

Finished compositionjpg

(12) Now find a texture that you like (Google search – Photoshop textures). I chose this one to try to line up the heads of the couple with the centre of the rays from the background.

Grunge Blue-burst Background Texture

(13) The texture is larger than the other two images. So:

  • Use Control + T to make it fit.
  • Or leave it the way that it is and use the move tool (V) to reposition it.
  • I decided that it looked better being large and moved it so that the centre of the rays was close to the heads of the couple.
  • I forgot to mention that I set the opacity to 50% so that  I could see where it was going to move it around.

(14) Here is what I finished up with.

final image

(15) If you are using WordPress, try not to forget to read the message that says “If you leave this page you will lose all the work that you have so carefully done for the last 30 minutes.”

Anyway, this will give you something to start with for the February Challenge which follows just here.

That’s all, folks!



About woldham

Concise! Retired and loving it!
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3 Responses to SIG Notes for February, 2015

  1. woldham says:

    Here is a site for using Bridge in Photoshop CS6 –

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