Me Meet Amanda! She is a “Pioneer Woman” of sorts, although, she says she’s not nearly as talented, witty or culinarily gifted as the real one. Amanda grew up in the suburbs or on military bases, but ended up in the country on a cattle and chicken farm an hour from any sizeable town. She is an amazing stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four children, ages 11 to 4.

Amanda and I really “clicked” as we started our photography journey about the same time, last spring, and it has quickly become a passion for both of us! Most of her subjects are her beautiful kids, the cows, her mother-in-law’s flowers and her weeds (“they’re prettier in a picture than in real life”, she claims). She enjoys editing (with PSE 7) and continues to learn daily. The tutorials she writes are very basic and well documented so that brand new users can learn how to use their editing software. Amanda’s tutorials have been an amazing resource for me!! I had owned PSE for years and rarely ever used it because I didn’t know how.

Amanda has recently started Everyday Elements, online workshops and video tutorials for PSE users, where you can find lots of free actions, tutorials, workshops and more.

Today Amanda is going to share one of her basic tutorials that can be used for any picture!

Hi there! I am thrilled to be guest posting here at TidyMom! Cheryl invited me to do a guest post and after my initial excitement, I started thinking about what to share. I tried to think of a quick, “tidy” trick to share with you and I hope this one hits the spot.

Whether you shoot with a DSLR or a point and shoot, I recommend getting some a photo editing program. There is so much you can do with your images, regardless of the camera used to capture them. The program I am using today is Photoshop Elements, but this tutorial will work in regular Photoshop (CS5 or earlier versions) just as well.

With almost every picture I edit, I do this edit trick which provides light while also boosting color and contrast.

Step 1: Open your image in PSE or PS. Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer by clicking on the half black/half white circle (see “1st”). Then choose ‘Gradient Map.’

Step 2: Once the Gradient Map options pop up, navigate until you see the B&W option, click on it. If you don’t see this menu, click where the * is and another fly-out menu will appear, then choose ‘Default.’

Step 3: Click on the Blend Mode menu box (1st). A menu will either pop up or pop down. Choose ‘Soft Light’ (2nd).

Step 4: Lower the layer opacity to suit. For portraits, I usually lower this down to between 15% and 25%. For still life, I usually keep it higher.

Here is a before/after shot, with nothing else done to it, not even sharpening. I wanted to show the effect

Here is a little tidbit – I use this technique with 98% of my edits. Never right at the beginning, but usually before I finish with an image, I will have used it. I love it and I think it adds just the right amount of definition to most shots.

I hope you find this helpful. If you give it a try, let me know your blog address or Flickr stream so I can go take a peek.


Thanks again Amanda, you are SOOOO generous with your knowledge and I learn something every time I talk to you or read one of your posts!!

Seriously people, if want to learn more about editing, head over to Amanda’s sites and even consider taking some of her online workshops, they’re VERY affordable and you will be amazed at how much you will learn!! The Everyday Elements Facebook page is another thing you don’t want to miss……..she has been known to “give out” free actions and more to those who “like” her!!

This tip “works for me”… I’m linking up at We Are That Family’s Works For Me Wednesday