Quick Photo Edit: The Crop & Lighten

I am hoping to start a small series on QUICK photo edits for your everyday photos.  I don’t like to spend a lot of time editing my photos, but it really is worth spending time doing some quick edits to get the most out of your pictures.  These tutorials will be for Photoshop and/or  Photoshop Elements, but the ideas can be applied to any photo editing programs.

Before and After

Here’s the before and after of the photo I will be using today.  There is way too much chair in it for my liking, and its a little dark.  Time for the quick edit: Crop and Lighten!

First, grab your crop tool.  Cropping is always my first step – this way you arent distracted by things that won’t be in the final image.  I like to use the Rule of Thirds grid overlay and an opacity around 50% so I can see what I am cutting off.  If you are planning to print the photo a certain size, be sure to pay attention to the size you are cropping it.  If you are going to digi scrap with it…this isn’t as important.

Crop Tool

Next, I am going to use Levels in order to lighten the photo.  I am not going to go into detail about what levels are or what you can do with them…let’s keep it simple!  Open the levels dialog box (Ctrl-L) and you will see a “mountain”. This mountain will look different for every picture, but there will be a black slider, a grey slider, and a white slider along the bottom of the mountain.  The black will be all the way on the left, and the white will be all the way on the right, with the grey in the middle.  As a (very) general rule, the black and white sliders should be at the edges of the mountains on a photo with good light.  See how for my photo the right hand side of the mountain is a little way off from the right edge of the box?  Well, that means my photo is a little bit dark.  So I took the white slider and moved it up to the edge of the mountain.  If you have your preview box checked (which I recommend), you will be able to see your changes as you move the sliders.  Now, take it easy … dont do too much here!! You can loose a lot of the photo’s detail if you go to far.  Ah..that’s good. 🙂


Click ok, then Save As (always save a copy and not overtop of your original!!).  And that’s it!  See how easy that was? 🙂

Next quick edit: adding a color pop! Stay tuned!

About Melissa B


  1. nice pics

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