This photo was taken in RAW format. RAW is ideal for editing because drastic changes can be made in the RAW editor.
Here is the photo in the RAW editor:
Adjustments made in exposure and the help of the recovery slider are needed to bring back details to the sky and the subject’s face.
The RAW settings were changed to the following:
Fill Light: 8
I then opened the photo in Elements. The photographer was showing in the reflection of the truck’s bumper. I used the clone stamp to remove the photographer from the photo and the blur tool overtop helped to smooth over the changes.
Next, I adjusted the levels to brighten up the photo (black 15, midtone 1.13, white 247). I didn’t want to lose the blue sky, so I used a black brush on the layer’s mask to bring the blue back in to the photo.
The subject’s face was rather red, so I created a hue adjustment layer. I chose the red channel and used the dropper on the subject’s face. I then slid the hue to +3 and lightness to +5.
The photo seemed to still have a green overcast, so I created another level’s adjustment. This time I used the white dropper on the whitest portion of the photo and the black dropper on the darkest portion. This did the trick.
In most photos where I have done quite a few adjustments in the lighting of the photo, I use Imagenomic’s Noiseware. My version is a purchased plug-in for Elements. Imagenomic also has a free Community version that works as a seperate program. Imagenomic has an incredible discount for teachers and students on a bundle of their three most popular plug-ins. (Wish I would have known this when I bought it!) Noiseware have become indispensable in my editing workflow, and I sure wouldn’t mind trying out their other great tools.
I felt like the sky was still a little drab, so I created a blank layer and colored over the sky in various shades of vibrant blue. I changed the layer’s blending mode to “Saturation” and reduced the opacity to 50%. I also used a free action to create a layer’s mask. This allowed me to use the brush tool to control where the blue showed up on the photo. (Unlike Photoshop, Elements does not have the ability to create layer’s mask without the aid of an action or a tricky manipulation of layers.)
Next, I flattened all the layers. I then duplicated the flattened layer. On the top layer, I changed the blending mode to soft light and reduced the opacity to 50%. This made the colors much richer.
To sharpen the photo, I went to the “Enhance” Menu and chose “Unsharp Mask”. The first time I used the settings 50 – 1.4 – 0. Then to adjust the contrast, I went to “Unsharp Mask” again and used the settings 5 – 250 – 0.
This photo needed a touch of warmth. I could have fiddled with the hue again, but I have a favorite action called “Sunshine” that gives photos just the right touch. It is free, and available to download through “The Pioneer Woman”. After running the action, I changed the blending mode to “Soft Light” and reduced the opacity to 47%.
My final adjustment was to bring just a bit more light to the subject’s face. I adjusted levels again (14 – 1.20 – 241) and used a layer’s mask to bring back all of the photo except on him.