Take Your Photos from Drab to Fab

My Bright and Clean Photo Editing Process

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As a photography hobbiest, I’m often asked about how I take and edit my photos. I take a lot of candid photos of my children on manual settings, which means I have to move quickly in less than ideal lighting situations, and there have been many times that means I don’t get it quite right in camera. Today I’m going to share my standard PhotoShop editing process that will take your photos from drab to fab.Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

First though, I’d like to give you a little office tour – the very reason I can finally share this tutorial today. My old computer had been limping along for a good year or more and running sooo. slow. Eventually, I stopped being about to use the “R” key at all. It made blogging super fun! Not.

I’d known it was time to upgrade PCs for awhile, soI finally marched myself over to Best Buy and bought a shiny new computer, and it’s making the nerd in me very happy.Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

I purchased my  Dell Inspiron 7000 from Best Buy because it had loads of memory at a great price. Most importantly, however, is that it has the new 8th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor, which means I can upload and edit a ton of photos and edit them lightning fast. It’s amazing after the turtle slow pace of my old computer!Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Plus, doesn’t it look pretty on my desk?

Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

I was finally inspired to clean the piles of papers that decorated my desk and actually, well, decorate it with items I already had in the house.
Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

And photographs, of course.
Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Now, on to the photo editing. I took this photo of ‘Belle that, as her mom, I just love. She looks so happy and it makes my momma heart soar. However, the photo quality is a bit…blah. I do a lot of my editing in PhotoShop,so this tutorial is for those who would like to better use this software.  so let’s start there.Easy Clean Editing Process: Take Your Photos from Drab to Fab | Five Marigolds

Quick disclaimer: this is the process that works for me, and I encourage everyone to do what works best for their shooting style and editing taste. I prefer bright colors with lots of contrast, so that’s what this tutorial will help you accomplish.

Step 1: Make it Pop. With my photo open, I move to the “Adjustments” menu above my “Layers” menu. I choose “Levels” and tweak the numbers about like this.Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Step 2: Make it Luminous. Next, create another Adjustment layer, just like before, only I tweak my levels like this and set the layer property to luminosity and opacity of around 25%.Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Step 3: Add Contrast with yet another levels adjustment layer. I overdid it here by setting the opacity to 75%, but that’s okay…I’m going to fix all those bright highlights later.Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Step 4: Warm it up.  Now you can warm up your photo a little if you’d like. To do this, create a new adjustment layer and choose “Photo Filter” from the menu. A box will pop with a standard warming filter that you can select. Then, go to your layer and adjust the opacity. I moved mine down to 25%.Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Step 5: Adjust the Shadows and Highlights. You can do this by selecting Image->Adjustments->Shadows/Highlights from the top drop down menu and tweaking as desired. There is still some clipping of the highlights here which is a technical no-no, but I’m totally cool with it. I’m such a rebel. Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Step 6: Take it down a notch. I’ve saved all of these steps and created a folder for all of them, as shown below, and the whole package of adjustments is saved as a “Pass Through” style layer, and I usually keep the opacity for the whole folder below 80%.

This is the part where I mention that I don’t go through this laborious process for each photo. I’ve saved it as an action, so all I do is press a button and it makes all of these adjustments for me, in a flash. When the action is finished running, I can make little tweaks as needed. Easy Clean Editing Process: Take Your Photos from Drab to Fab | Five Marigolds

With the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor, this whole process is now super fast and I have no problem editing a large number of images all at once – even while binge watching Netflix in the background at the same time.

Finally, Step 7: Add color. If you still need a little extra color pop, hit CTRL+J on your keyboard to create a duplicate layer from your background. Using the sponge tool on the left sidebar, brush over the areas you’d like to see pop.Easy Clean Editing Process: Take Your Photos from Drab to Fab | Five Marigolds

My photo is looking much better now, don’t you think?Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

Now for some truth time: that pretty desk I showed you? I pretty much never use it. The best thing about a 2-in-1 laptop is that you can use it anywhere. For me, that’s mostly my couch 😉 

Are you ready to take your photos from drab to fab? If you’re looking to speed up your editing and Netflix binging be sure to look for the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor.

Take your photos from drab to fab with this clean and bright photo editing tutorial | Five Marigolds

7 thoughts on “Take Your Photos from Drab to Fab

  1. certifiedpastryaficionado says:

    Oooo love the idea of having a 2 in 1 laptop. I am always on the couch doing blog work so this would make it it so much easier! Thanks for sharing!

  2. littleslifeandlaughter says:

    These tips are amazing, I had to pin so I had it bookmarked for later! I have a hard time with capturing my kids because they are so mobile now and I’m still learning how to edit but I love the before and after you shared, it makes such a huge difference!

  3. sunshineandmunchkins says:

    Such a cute picture! I really need to get Photoshop or Lightroom or something one of these days. Right now I just use PicMonkey which does the job, but I know I could improve the look of my pictures if I took it a step further.

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