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Photoshop Elements: Crop and Lighting

The first article [1] in this series about Photoshop Elements was an overview of the Editor, with a look at the Quick Edit feature. This installment explores two editing basics in Full Edit; cropping, and adjusting light and contrast. By cutting away the unnecessary components in an image, cropping makes it possible to improve composition, fit to a particular ratio (5 x 7, 8 x 10, etc.), or both. Light and contrast can be adjusted on images, or on layers within images, so both crop and lighting tools are critical to many editing tasks.

To download the free Photoshop Elements trial, click here [2].

The Editor


The appearance of the interface is set by items checked in the Window menu. What will appear from the menu below, are Tools, Navigator, and Panel Bin (all checked). Tools and Panel Bin open by default, but Navigator is a personal preference.


Opening a File

There are several ways to open an image in Elements, but I generally pick one from a folder in Windows Explorer and select Adobe Photoshop Elements from the Open With menu.


Images can also be selected by choosing Open from the Elements File menu, or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+O.


In the Open dialog box, select a single image, or multiple images. A quick way to open multiple images is to click one and–while holding the Shift key–click another further down the list. This will highlight all files in between. Multiple files can also be opened by holding the Ctrl key while making individual selections.


Cropping an Image

To crop an image, click the Crop Tool, or use the keyboard shortcut C.


With the Crop Tool selected, options are presented below the main Menu Bar. Type the desired size in the fields (7 in x 5 in shown below), and the image will be cropped to that ratio. To switch width and height, click the arrows between the fields.


Now, click on the image and—while holding the left mouse button–pull out. Any part of the image can be selected, in any size, but the ratio will remain the same. To move the cropped area, release the mouse and–again holding the left mouse button–grab that section and move it around. To resize the cropped portion, grab one of the handles and pull or push. Once the approximate size and location is set, the cropped section can be moved incrementally with the arrow keys on your keyboard. When you’re satisfied, tap the Enter key, or click the green check mark.


To crop a new image (or the same one) at a different ratio, insert new ratio numbers, or reset the tool (click the small arrow shown below and select Reset Tool). With the tool reset, there are no ratio restrictions. Just click and drag any part of the image to any size.


Light and Contrast

To modify lighting and contrast, select Adjust Lighting from the Enhance menu and click Brightness/Contrast.


In the Brightness/Contrast dialog box, move the sliders, or type a number in the field. Check and uncheck the Preview box to see the changes made to the image. If you’re happy with the results, click OK. If not, click Cancel.


The photo of the fish below demonstrates different light and contrast adjustments.


See the first article [1] for information on saving files.

There are certainly other (and probably better) ways to do the things described here. Please feel free to offer comments and suggestions.