Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

I've decided I need to learn to use Photoshop.

I've decided I'm sort of pathetic.  I'm a creative and visual and tech-saavy person, and yet... I don't do anything fancy to my blog post photos.  I've been blogging for almost two and a half years, and my pictures have improved tremendously since I started but I still have a loooong way to go.  Although I do have a relatively good camera--a Cannon Rebel--(I think I need a better lens, though, but have no idea what that means.)

But I really think I need to step things up with some photo editing.  I currently use whatever came with my computer--Microsoft Picture Manager or something.  It does a few things that I need, but... I really want my pictures to look cooler.  Prettier.  And in some cases, less yellow?  I try and try and use manual settings on my camera but the colors so often look yellow when I take pictures in my house.  I hate the light here.  (It's okay, we're hopefully moving soon when we find a house to buy.)

(Both pics yellow even after editing. I did my best.)  And sometimes they don't even turn out yellow, just... weird colors!  I swear I'm trying!

Seriously, why does the surface of my white table look pink?!!?!?

And that's not even getting started on some of my How to Wear DIY pics outdoors... so dark!  And so many greys and blacks in the colors!  And it's not just cuz I'm wearing black and standing on the street.  I mean the contrast, or base colors or something...

Annnnnnyway, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and tips on photo editing!

My husband has Photoshop Elements on his computer with two monitors, so I'm pretty well set-up with the physical stuff but I'm not sure if Photoshop Elements is good enough?  I don't plan on becoming totally pro, but will I be able to do everything I need to do with Elements, or do I need the real thing?  I've also considered using Gimp, which is open-source and free but I understand very similar to Photoshop.  Although I want to use widely circulated online tutorials for Photoshop, so the terminology might be confusing for a newb like me if it's not parallel.  I'm also wondering--what's up with Photoshop Actions?  Can I create my own if I find edits that I like, and want to do to several pictures?

I even started a Pinterest board with some tips and how-tos for Photoshop and photography.  But just because I ran across them on my Pinterest home page... I would love some of you who know what you're talking about to recommend some sites I should check out!

Cuz I don't know what I'm talking about, I'm embarrassed to say.  But I'm a DIY-er!  I will learn to do stuff to my photos!

Anyone have any suggestions?


  1. Whoops. None of your pintrest links seem to be working- even on your side bar. I'd love to see what tutorials you have collected. I'd say see if Elements will work for you since you already have it, and if you do need to upgrade hopefully what you learned in Elements will parlay to the real program.

  2. I use photoshop every day for work. Sometimes there is not much you can do for a photo (see http://www.trumbelinasews.blogspot.com/2012/01/vogue-1109-review.html the pics of the blue striped top). They were taken in my basement with low light, and there just isn't enough information in the digital capture to make it that much better. My favorite colour correction tools are: 1. Image/Adjust/Photo filter. If the image is overall very yellow, use a violet or blue filter (basically the opposite colour on the colour wheel). 2. Then you can use Image/adjust/curves. This allows you to alter the brightness and contrast without losing any information (ie: you can come back later and readjust). 3. Image/Adjust/vibrance. One of our photographers showed me this not long ago. You can only access this when the image is in RGB colour mode, and it is more subtle than adjusting the saturation (Image/Adjust/Hue-Saturation), which I also use sometimes to make things a little more surreal, but watch that it doesn't end up blowing out too much detail (unless that's what you are going for. 4. Lastly, but it's usually the first thing I do, is adjust the levels (Image/adjust levels). I try the auto first to see if that brings me to where I want to be. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Then, try playing with the white balance. There are three eye droppers in the levels panel (below the okay, Cancel, auto and options buttons on the right). The eyedropper on the right is for the white values. Click that and then on your image in the whitest spots and see what it does.
    Photoshop is an enormous program. I've been working with it for over 11 years, and I have barely scratched the surface, but the good news is there are many great tutorials out there. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me: trumbelinasews@hotmail.ca

  3. Wendy B1/23/2012

    Suzanna - Photoshop Elements should be just right for what you want. It's designed specifically for photo editing and altering (versus regular Photoshop which is designed for photos and much, much more). I like your photographs as is, but I understand the desire to keep improving!
    Here's a good site http://www.photokaboom.com/_htm_menus/PSE_menu.htm
    but there are many, many sites that have tutorials.

  4. Anonymous1/23/2012

    I fix all my funny-colored backgrounds with GIMP (a free program), so I'd avoid upgrading if I were you. I doubt it's necessary for your needs.

  5. Anonymous1/23/2012

    You might give Lightroom a try. It does most of what professional Photoshop does short of compositing. I believe there is a free trial. There are some excellent tutorials at kelbytraining.com.

  6. I think Photoshop Elements is a great way to get started. I would work with what your husband has and then decide if you think you need more. You can do a lot with PE. Check out this blog, which has a lot of tips and beginning actions. http://www.thecoffeeshopblog.com/ It's probably perfect for what you need!

  7. Anonymous1/23/2012

    Elements should be all you need. I would suggest trying the things that Trumbelina suggested above.

    I think you're a good photographer, I would suggest just trying to shoot good pictures to start off with (good lighting, etc.) and then using photoshop to just "tweak" brightness, color, cropping, etc. If you're having trouble with lighting inside, I would suggest taking your items outside to take pictures. Wooden decks, benches, rocks, grass, would all make lovely backdrops for your wallets! Go crazy!

    Now, in my opinion, a lot of the trend right now is over-filtering everything. It's way too overdone. It's so refreshing when I see good photography that hasn't been put through iphone filters and instigram and what not or bad photoshop "actions". Too many people take bad photographs and put it through a "cool" filter and everyone thinks they're great at photography! Plus, with what you're doing, I think that seeing the more true colors is important to get the feel of what your clothing actually looks like. *rant over*

  8. Anonymous1/23/2012

    About Photoshop Elements the others said enough - and I also think it is sufficient.

    For your yellow and pink white, often the reason for this is the automatic white balance of the camera. It's not working sometimes. Did you consider this already? As you say you have a quite good camera, there should be seveal options for the white balance.

  9. Try downloading Photoscape-very user friendly, and has amazing effects! :)


  10. I just sent you an email on the subject! A great tip is to use a gray object to set your white balance for the room. Natural light and making sure your ISO setting isn't too high will also help with crispness and clarity :)

  11. My recommendation is to read through your camera's manual and find out how to measure your white balance on the camera itself. I don't know about a Canon but on a Nikon, you go to White Balance > Present Manual > Measure then you take a picture of a white/gray sheet of paper or anything that is all white and it will set your white balance perfectly! It has changed my pictures dramatically.

    Another option if you don't want to buy Photoshop is to use GIMP which is a free photo editing software that does practically everything that photoshop does.

    I hope those things help :)


  12. I confess- all my images are brushed-up. Photoshop Elements is brilliant, GIMP (for Mac) does well too. I also have Portrait Professional for the face work ! Thank God for that!!!! Am I shallow or what? But it makes the difference!

  13. I use Elements on a daily basis, and it should be just right for what you need. I found this book http://www.amazon.com/Photoshop-Elements-Digital-Photographers-Voices/dp/0321741331/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1327339378&sr=8-4 tremendously helpful, as it teaches you a great deal about Elements through practical tutorials that are actually useful!

  14. I use photoshop for a living (web designer/developer) so I definetly know the benefit of a good photo editing program to help where our camera settings do not :). I use photoshop for my blog images. Usually, the best tools that I use for quick correcting my photos is image > auto tone or image > auto color. If neither of these give me a good result, I undo and just go to image > adjustments > color balance or image > adjustments > levels. Then, once I have my color corrected I give it just one filter > sharpen.

    If photoshop elements has these adjustments you are good to go in my opinion! Hope this helps!

  15. I think there's a lot of us who want to improve out photos - you know what might be a really good idea for your blog? To find someone to guest post like, once a week, with photography and Photoshop tips for sewers & crafters! Or you could share your learnings as you teach yourself. Photography is such an important skill for those of us who create things, but often times we get so caught up in our craft that we don't learn about how to capture and share it.

  16. Photoshop elements is pretty good and enough for most photo editing. On top os a sewinst I'm also a hobbyist photographer and all my photos are editing with elements. You can see some examples on my photography site:http://www.sanyflame.com/

    About the tone of the photo it's all down to colour temperature. The yellow cast is derived from tungsten light at home (from bulbs) and correcting colour temperature is only completely possible if you shoot RAW images.

  17. elements should have all you need for blogging! Photoshop is really crazy expensive, and I'm trained on it for graphics design but don't own it myself. I've taught myself Elements (photoshop i learned in college) easily and I just upgraded to Elements 10 from 8... if you go under 'guided editing' you can find easy ways to fix colors and the like. many of the actions you can get for photoshop are also available for elements and it's way more user-friendly, which sounds like you're hoping for.

  18. I would also suggest Adobe Lightroom. It's photo management software that also allows you to easily manipulate your images. The nice thing about it is that it has pre-set corrections for lots of cameras, so that once you set this, it will auto-correct the white balance of your images if you want. (That's what makes white things look pink or yellow.) I also have Photoshop Elements, but never use it for touching up photos anymore. For me, Lightroom is much easier to understand and work with.

  19. Anonymous1/23/2012

    Do you shot in RAW? Shooting in RAW and then using the software that came with your camera (my Cannon I bought years ago came with EOS Viewer Utility)can cover a lot of color/lighting sins.

  20. If I just need a basic lighting/colour warmth fix, I use Picasa. It has some simple sliders that I find can really improve my photos, especially when they're taken inside when there's no natural light to be had (all too often with these short winter days). It also overlays a grid when rotating, which can really help straighten out pictures! Way better than Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

    I'm slowly learning more about the Gimp to do more detailed fixes; it's very powerful and very free. I imagine there are good web tutorials, but I just use my boyfriend.

  21. Anonymous1/23/2012

    photoshop elements is probably all you need. For great online tutorials on how to adjust your pictures check out Jessica Sprague. She has great online classes and free tutorials and explains things really clearly.

  22. Ohhhh my god, thank you, all of you, so much! I knew you'd have good ideas! ;) It is sooo helpful to hear your thoughts and tips! I have a lot of research and experimenting to do...

  23. De-lurking for the first time to do this, but if you're looking for a program to do a little more than Elements is capable of, but don't want to shell out for the full Photoshop, I'd recommend trying GIMP. Its a free, open source photoshop alternative. It's certainly not as good for some things(as my web designer friend is constantly telling me) but for basic/intermediate photo editing, I find it suits my needs as a blogger perfectly.

    PS - I LOVE your blog. =D

  24. Anonymous1/24/2012

    Personally I have GIMP, but seldom edit my pictures to be honest. I second the comment above about the yellow and pink tones you are seeing in your shots, it would be worth looking at the white balance settings of your camera to adjust for the lighting in your photographs.

    Love the blog by the way!

  25. I used to use photoshop always, but after discovering Lightroom, my life changed! Lol dramatic, I know :). It's so much quicker to edit exposure, white balance, etc. I transfer to photoshop if I need to make a collage or do some cloning or something but they're all so pricey so try them out first.

  26. I took a photography class over the weekend. I also edit all of my photos and wasn't always happy with the outcome. The biggest thing I took away is to shot in RAW. He said when you shoot in .jpeg, it throws out 70% of the image so when you edit it at home, there is less to work with. I'm assuming it would work with Elements. If not, it does work with Lightroom which is about $200 (much less if you can get a student/teacher discount). As far as lenses, he said (many times) that the next most important lense is a 50m. It is fixed, but let's in more light than the lenses that camera come with. Also, an external flash will probably help with night photos- the rebel doesn't come with strongest flash. good luck!

  27. I'm also in the boat for shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom. I haven't used Elements, so I'm unsure of the comparison, but I know Adobe Lightroom is incredibly user friendly and it consistently amazes me with just how far it takes my photos. The Fill Light function and white balance sliders are my best friends :)

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  29. 5. For lens, I highly recommend going into a store and trying them out. Seriously. I haven't gotten to play with lenses that are appropriate for what you're doing (focusing on long-distance action shots, myself), but based on what I've read: The Canon 50 mm is highly-touted as an awesome choice, and comes in low f-stops (1.4 or 1.8 - which means you can take pictures in lower light levels) for relatively cheap prices. However, if you are on a Canon Rebel (XS, I'm assuming, since you didn't say) I'm pretty sure you are using a crop sensor. Long story short, it might be harder to get full-body or such shots indoors, not being able to step back far enough. Try it out to know for sure, and consider a lower smaller mm size. Otherwise, the main thing between the prime (one size, eg, 50mm or 30mm) and zoom (eg 100mm-300mm) is that primes are usually (but not always!) sharper than the zooms - again, try it out. And research. www.lenshero.com is a good place to start.

    6. I took the liberty of editing your pictures in Elements, in order to show you what I would do to "correct them". You can see the edited images at http://flickr.com/gp/29310787@N03/vve4N7/ I've included a description of what I did to each picture so that you can see what steps I took. Of course, the results I came up with might not be ideal to you, but should give you an idea of the possibilities, and help you find those tools in Element yourself.

    7. Sorry to write a book... I got carried away. But, as long as I'm writing.... THANK YOU for putting full posts into Google Reader! I know you don't always get the click-through, but it means that I'm reading your blog much more often now. :)

  30. 1. Photoshop Elements should be entirely satisfactory for your needs! Based on my experience with Elements 9, one can do all sorts of color adjusting, layers, contrast, filters, RAW processing, and even some actions (see www.thecoffeeshopblog.com). I just got Photoshop Elements a little over a month ago, and I've been loving what I can do with it. I also just got a Photoshop a few weeks ago (a Mac friend needed to borrow my PC to do some portfolio work, and surprise!), but I haven't needed it for anything instead of Elements other than working with transparent layers... (for more Elements versus Photoshop, read http://photo-editing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/photoshop-elements-and-photoshop-cs3-comparison.html)

    2. ... which I used to do with GIMP! GIMP is another good tool, and is my favorite price. I've used GIMP for quite a while now, and have found it to be very satisfactory. Yes, there is less targeted info out there than for Photoshop, and it may not be quite the same on a professional level, but it has always done what I needed it to do. A steep learning curve for someone who has never used a higher-level editing software before, while Elements is a little bit more intuitive, but I Googled, played around, and had fun with it.

    3. I agree that it would be useful to play with RAW files, although I wouldn't give up on your trusty .jpgs. Just like you probably don't need the full Photoshop (since you probably aren't doing highest level editing, preparing for large commercial printing), you don't need to shoot every picture in RAW. However, RAW is useful (as mentioned by other commenters) for situations in which you can't get the right white balance (like your wallet), or when everything is just a little dark (like your outside shot). Since you can edit your RAW files through Elements, it's definitely worth playing with - take a couple shots and try them out!

    4. If you are looking for another picture manager, the one that I use is Picasa (from Google). I've come to reallly like, enough that I haven't bothered to check out other managers. I might upgrade to Lightroom someday, but I can't justify the expense right now. Elements actually also has one built in, but I haven't tried it nor read up on it. Of course, whatever you're using, if you feel like it has limitations, Google it! Picasa doesn't naturally connect to Facebook (although you can send pictures to almost any photo processing site), but I found a button that I could install online to allow me to send pictures to Facebook. Voila!

  31. Anonymous1/24/2012

    I use Picasa/Picnik (the later of which which is disappearing sometime in April) and I find what I most often needd to futz with in picture is the highlight level (up it a tiny bit) and then slowly add shadow back in). And then I sometimes need to mess with the color a bit to warm it up and maybe play with the contrast. I suggest starting with Picasa before moving on to something like Photoshop.

  32. Anonymous1/24/2012

    Sorry if I'm just repeating what has already been said.

    I use Lightroom for nearly all of my editing. I also have a copy of photoshop called White Rabbit. By doing a quick Google search for "White Rabbit Photoshop," you can find a free download of the program. If you have any questions about that, please email me.

    As for white balance, I never mess with that on camera. I have it set to shoot RAW, which takes the photo similar to a negative when using film. This gives you more control over how the colors can be manipulated during post-processing.

    When it comes to editing, your best option is the one you are most comfortable using.

    Lenses are an entire different ballgame. When people talk about a better lens, there are a couple factors they are referring to. First, the quality of glass used to construct the lens. The glass used in the Cannon L series is much higher quality than the glass used in the lens you got with your camera. The better the glass, the sharper and more in focus the photo can be. If you ever hear anyone say the photo is soft, they are referring to how crisp the lines are and the clarity of the focus.

    The second quality they are looking for is how low can they set the aperture speed, also call the f-stop. This is how much light the lens lets in when taking a photo. This determines the depth of field of your photo. Which is roughly translated as how long your photo stays in focus.

    I would highly recommend that you pick up the "nifty fifty." It is a great lens for learning the basics. It is also just over $100 at Best Buy or you can find it online fairly easily. This was my favorite lens until it took the brunt of a fall and broke (thankfully, the camera was fine). We should be getting a replacement soon.

    My next favorite lens that we own is the 28mm f/1.8. This lens is super sharp ad better for taking full body shots. However, it also costs a lot more.

    I think that's all for now, feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, I'd be glad to help if I can.

  33. I use Photoshop almost on a daily basis. I feel that I am pretty proficient at it. However, I would recommend to change your camera's white balance setting. The reason why you have yellow pictures is because you are using tungsten lighting (lighting that creates a yellow glow). Read through your camera's manual and see how they have you do it. Personally, I always shoot with a custom white balance in my camera.

    Also, you can try to change out your lightbulbs to daylight light bulbs, but it would be better to learn your camera settings.

    I love photoshop, but something my photography instructors drilled into me is that it is ALWAYS better to have things as close to perfect as possible in your camera. Every time you make an adjustment in photoshop, your risk bringing "noise" (pixelation) into your image.

  34. You all are so helpful--seriously, I can't thank you enough. I am really excited to learn more about Photoshop and cameras and editing, cuz I am seriously tired of my icky, yellow-looking photos!



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