GET TERRIFIC TONES IN ELEMENTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Whether you want to enhance contrast, convert to black & white, fix exposure problems or perform any number of other image adjustments, you need an image editor that offers the right tools. While Elements is seen as lightweight in comparison it includes many features that match those found in its big brother and these tools are presented in a beginner-friendly way that makes them both accessible and intuitive.
We’ll look at the powerful range of tonal tools available in the Elements Camera Raw plug-in and over the page we’ll explore some of the most interesting tonal tools in the Elements Editor. In keeping with the Elements beginner-friendly focus, many of the tools are semi-automated. These take some of the control out of your hands but they can still be nuanced and effective. In fact, the tonal tools are laid out in a clever uncluttered structure that – from a workflow point of view – many will find more helpful than the more advanced.
Raw editing in Elements
The Camera Raw editor in Elements will pop up automatically when you open a raw photo. The Basic Panel to the right is the ideal place to begin making tonal changes to your image. Work your way down from the top, from white balance, correcting exposure and adding contrast. As with all raw edits any changes made here are completely non-destructive and editable. This is one of the biggest benefits. We are altering a set of parameters that affect how the Camera Raw viewer displays the image. Changes are only applied once we open the image into Elements, or save the image. This gives you the freedom to try out different treatments and effects. It also means that tonal, contrast and colour changes can be applied to several images at once – simply open a set of raws, click the Select All button and make your edits.
Begin with a Profile
The Profile Browser within the Elements Camera Raw plug-in offers a range of helpful starting points for your image (you can also open JPEGs as well as raw). If it’s a raw file you can use the Raw profiles. These are geared to suit different subjects. For instance Portrait Profile makes tonal and colour tweaks to enhance skin tones while the Landscape Profile is designed to affect textures in landscapes as well as boosting blues in skies and greens in foliage. With raws you’ll also see a set of ‘Camera Matching’ profiles. These will match any picture-style settings that your camera offers. Below Camera Matching is a set of b&w profiles and tonal effects. Split into categories such as Artistic, Modern and Vintage, these can be applied to raws or JPEGs, and there’s a strength slider that lets you control the tonal change.
The Quick workspace in Elements is usually thought of as a place for beginners to learn before progressing onto the Expert mode. However, when it comes to adjusting tones, contrast and colour, Quick mode allows you to do so in a way that is more intuitive than anywhere else. Click ‘Adjustments’ at bottom right and you’ll see a series of simple sub menus – Auto Smart fix, Exposure, Lighting, Color, Balance, Sharpen – that offer controls for adjusting each, either using the slider or a series of nine incremental boxes. Hover over any box and you’ll see a preview of the change over your image. It’s usually best to click on the box that works best for you, then if necessary go on to fine-tune the adjustment using the slider. The command offers an effective, intuitive way to enhance tones for both beginners and experts. This is a great place to start with your image.