Editing Your Summer Images

Editing Your Summer Images

by Briana Salcedo

Ah, summer; the time for iced drinks, barbeques, colorful clothing, and fireflies. These long days are full of beautiful memories to cherish, and if you stay on top of it, you can even capture some impromptu photographs! We’ve written down some tips for you that will help you to emphasize the warmth and fun that comes with the summer atmosphere.


Be Prepared

Summer has its share of get-togethers and events, and you’ve got to be prepared to photograph them! Be sure that you always have a good camera on hand. While a lot of people try to get away with using the cameras on their phones, there are a lot of disadvantages that come with smartphone cameras versus the technology of a DSLR or a mirrorless. Of course, use your smartphone if there is no other option, but the smart photographer has a backup in her purse or his car trunk! Additionally, summer has no end of bugs and sun; so packing bug spray and sunscreen are essential.

Photoshoot Tips

Despite the beautiful styles and memories that summer brings, the lighting in the summer is usually very uneven. Daytime brings the blinding sun, which tends to capture overexposed light. Your best time for photographing will be during the golden hour and twilight, time periods which are much longer and forgiving on your lens. Early evening light is perfect for capturing detail and additionally brings out the fantastic colors of summer sunsets! Bump up your ISO exactly to your surroundings or set it on auto to let the camera determine the best settings. If you are shooting an event that takes place during the day, closing your aperture (raising the setting) will let in less light, and adding a polarizing lens will even out harsh lighting. Always remember too that shade is your friend, and if you can find it or make it for yourself with a lens hood, you'll be glad that you did!


Now with the power of Photoshop, we can bring out the best in every photograph! Our goals are:
  • Fix imperfections
  • Add To Our Background
  • Adjust Tones

We’ll share the tools we use in Photoshop as well as the best actions to use from Bellevue Avenue.


Fix Imperfections


The Wonderlust & Whimsy Collection has a ton of tools to help you clean, brighten, and tone your images for a summer feeling. If you decide to get it, it acts as the bread in a sandwich; you can start with it to clean up your image, throw overlays in the middle, and end with the W&W set using finishing tones.

You'll want to work down the list of actions: Base Actions, Global Adjustments, Skin Retouch, etc...going through these actions will give you more control over the appearance of your subject's appearance as well as the overall image.

Some of the most important actions from this set are the SKIN RETOUCH actions which help to even your skin frequencies and add lossless dodging and burning. 
Play these actions to add shadows and highlights without directly editing your image. Work with a soft black brush on a layer mask to highlight brows and cheeks and add shadow to neck and jawlines. Blend your work if need be with the smudge tool.



From Photoshop, here is what you'll want to use:

Brightness, Contrast, Levels: From your adjustments panel in Photoshop. Use these if your camera couldn't capture the correct lighting and you need a dramatic base change.

Content Aware: Select small objects, bugs, strange lights, or other things using the lasso tool. Go to Edit>Fill>Content Aware and see those objects disappear. Use the clone stamp and healing brush to finish these areas off.

TIPS: In general you’ll want to duplicate layers and create ways to backtrack in case any of your edits don’t come out as planned. Work with your history panel to backtrack many steps if need be.

Add To Your Background

Once you've cleaned up your background to appear as a neutral and clean base, why not add some fun overlays?



Summer means light, beautiful skies, and fun outdoor activities! If your image had a lackluster sky, add in a sky overlay and work on a layer mask to hide the sky from the area where your subject is. The flower shrub overlays are great to add over top of your subject, creating more dimension while potentially hiding some unwanted background areas. Add some lens flares, rainbows, and/or bubbles to make your photo even more fun and dramatic!

Just be sure to add these overlays underneath any light orbs or overlays from the first part; you can do this through the layers panel. You want whatever you add to belong to the rest of the image and not stick out because of mismatched color or lighting.

Finishing and Tonal Adjustments


Just as with the W&W: Workflow, the W&W Magic collection is easy to use by going through the actions listed one by one. First adjust your sky tones and then add sunlight and lighting actions to create that bright, summery feeling! Finally add dreamy overlays, hazes, and vignettes to finish off the whole piece. Avoid going too bright by lowering the opacity on certain layers, the key here is many small adjustments that add to the whole look.

If your skin tones didn't turn out exactly as you need them to, or if they have too much influence from overlays you've added, you have some options. The Perfect Skin Tone Actions were made to add in those final skin adjustments that bring out the perfect shade in every subject, and yes, the collection works with darker folks as well! You can also work on the layer masks of previous overlay layers to adjust the influence that each overlay has on your subject. Many subtle changes will perfectly bring the whole piece together!

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