Editing 101

This tutorial will guide you through the steps of post processing your photos. The tutorial was provided by PHXSpotter member Peter Nickerson. Peter Nickerson currently  uses Adobe Photoshop Elements, currently version 9.

The first step is to select and open an image.  In this case, I’m choosing file D32_2842.  I almost always shoot in jpeg, except for some night shoots.

The next step is to level the image.  Image>rotate>custom.

I enter increments of rotation until the verticals in the image are straight.  In this case I used the pillars of the parking structure in the background.  Using horizontals to level the image usually is not as accurate as using verticals.

open file


rotate menu


rotate align


Now that I have leveled and cropped, next is to look for dust spots.  To help make the spots stand out, I create a duplicate layer, and then equalize that layer.

Duplicate layer:  Layer>duplicate layer
Equalize: Filter>adjustments>equalize

Once equalized, click on the background layer (the original layer) and use the spot healing brush tool to remove them.  Note that the spots will still appear because the spot healing tool is removing them from the background layer, but they are still visible on the background copy layer they was equalized.When done with the spots, just delete the background copy layer (the one that was equalized).

create layer
spot tool
Now we adjust the exposure/brightness of the image.  In Photoshop this is referred to as “adjust levels”.Enhance>Adjust Lighting>LevelsThe histogram will appear – this is a graphical representation of the exposure levels in the image.  Note on the right side how I adjust the slider over to touch the histogram.  If there was a similar gap on the left side of the histogram, I would adjust the slider over to the right to touch the histogram.
adjust levels 1
adjust levels 2
adjust levels 3
Now I resize the image.  For this image a finished size of 1024 pixels wide will be fine.  I would never bother uploading anything larger than 1200.Image>Resize>Image sizeNote on the menu that I have selected “Resample: Bicubic” and “Constrain proportions”.
resize 1
resize 2
Time to sharpen the image.  Use the magic wand to select the sky – if necessary you might have to use the shift key to select multiple times if all the sky is not selected in one click.Once selected, then select the inverse so that the part of the image with the aircraft is selected.Once the selection is done, apply the first pass of unsharp mask (USM).  I use 50%,0.3,0.
Unsharp mask 1
Unsharp mask 2
Now that I have applied one pass of USM to the base layer, I want to apply two more passes.  Because sharpening will create “jaggies”, I will create a duplicate layer, and apply the two additional passes on that layer.  This will allow me to “erase” sharpening and hence jaggies in any areas they appear on.First, create a duplicate layer, same as for equalizing to remove dust spots.  Before the next pass of sharpening, increase the selection size by one pixel.  Select>modify>expand.  This will avoid the multiple passes of sharpening from showing up as a line on the edge of the selected area, and netting an editing rejection.  Apply USM again in same amount (50%,0.3,0).  Expand the selection one more time, and apply USM for the final time (50%,0.3,0).
create layer
expand selection
Unsharp mask 2
What are jaggies?  I severely over sharpened this image to show them.  The staircase patterns on the cheat lines are jaggies.Using the eraser tool, erase the jaggies wherever they appear.Once done, flatten the image: Layer>flatten image.
Final step:  save the image.I use highest quality jpg.  the file name includes the registration, date and original file name (so you know what original the edited version came from).
file save 1
file save 2
Peter Nickerson

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