Tips and Techniques

I will be posting simple hints, tips, and short tutorials on this page that I come across in my reading. Many things that I learn never make it into my courses, at least in written form. These tips will generally deal with the subject matter I cover in my classes, but will also address related topics. One of the key sources for these tips are my answers to specific questions my students and other followers of my blog have asked me. So, don’t hesitate to email your questions, or better yet ask them in a Comment.

Photoshop Elements – Editor

Using Blending Modes to Correct for Color Shift

Sometimes using the Levels command or sharpening an image can cause colors to shift slightly. To avoid this change the layer Blending Mode to Luminosity from its default Normal.  This works in both PSE and Photoshop.

 Avoiding Color Shifts

Cloning Between Layers

Whenever possible, you should always do your editing non-destructively whenever possible. That way it is easy to recover if things don’t look right. That is the key reason we use Adjustment Layers whenever possible.

Using the Clone Stamp tool is by its nature a destructive editing process. The way to mitigate that is to clone onto an empty layer.

1. Open the image and create a new blank Layer by clicking on appropriate icon in Layers Palette.

Clone 1

2. Select Clone Tool and check the Use All Layers option on the Tool Option Bar.

3. Using upper or new layer, use Clone Tool in the usual way. By using Use All Layers, you are able to clone from the untouched bottom layer to the new empty layer.

Clone 2

4. View the correction (top) layer alone to see where you have used the Clone Tool. The beauty of this technique is that you can correct mistakes with the Erasure Tool and the original photo is never altered.

Clone 3


Stamp Visible

This shortcut is very useful if you want to combine all of the changes you made to an image, without flattening it. Here is the shortcut. First make the top layer in the Layers panel active by clicking on it. Then simultaneously hold down ALT+SHIFT+CTRL and press E. The result, as shown in the figure below, is a new layer on top of the stack that contains all of the changes made in the lower layers. By the way, thee is no command for this shortcut.



Another Way to Remove Color Cast from Your Photos

Not too longer ago I posted a technique to remove an unwanted color cast from in an image in my blog. Here is the link to that post. Here is yet another technique. A given technique may not work with all images, so it’s a good idea to have more than one tool in your tool box of techniques.

  • Open the selected image in the Full Editor.
  • Make a new empty layer by clicking on the paper icon next to the black and white circle in Layers Pallet.
  • Fill the empty layer (Layer 1) with 50% gray by clicking on Edit > Fill and selecting 50% Gray in the Use field. Your image will turn gray.
  • Change the Blending Mode to Difference.
  • Add a Threshold Adjustment Layer above Layer 1. Your layer stack will look like the figure below. The Background Layer is not visible here.

Layer Stack 1

  • In the Threshold dialog, move the slider all the way to the left. Your image will turn white.
  • Now slowly move the slider to the right until part of the image begins to turn black. Those areas that turn black first are the neutral tone areas. Make a mental note of where they are located in your image.
  • Turn off the visibility of Layer 1 and the Threshold Adjustment Layer.
  • Add a Levels Adjustment Layer above the Background. Select the gray eyedropper and click in the area that you had mentally noted above. Your color cast should be removed.
  • If you do not get the result you want, try clicking in another spot. Generally multiple areas of the image begin to turn black at the same time.

Before Gray


After Gray


In the above example, there was only a subtle change. The picture basically got warmer. Better, maybe not. There was no real unwanted color cast in this example.


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