40 Crop first
If you are going to crop your image, it’s worth doing this before you start doing any post-shoot editing (this is especially true when cloning out dust, as there is no point working on bits of the image that won’t make the final cut).
This can even apply to other adjustments, such as Levels or Curves, because extremely light or dark areas that you’ll eventually crop out can also affect the adjustments you may make. It’s worth saving the original image under a different name before cropping, should you mess things up.
41 Rate and label your shots
No matter how organised you are when it comes to sorting your shots into folders, wading through loads of images can be time-consuming and frustrating. There are plenty of tools in software such as the Organizer in Photoshop Elements, or Bridge in Photoshop CS, but one of the simplest ways to speed up the process is to rate the images you want to work on later. Just don’t give all your images five stars!
42 Work on layers
Using Adjustment Layers, or making any adjustments to a copy of the Background layer, can initially take a little more time than simply editing your original image. But if you make a mistake, change your mind or simply want to go back to an adjustment to fine-tune it, this approach will save you loads of time and effort.
Because you haven’t touched your original image, you can retrace your steps more easily. Remember to save as a Photoshop (.PSD) file to maintain all of the layers if you want to close the image and go back to it later on.
43 Learn keyboard shortcuts
One of the best ways to speed-up editing is to learn the keyboard shortcuts for your most commonly used adjustments or tools, rather than having to select them from the Tools palette or find them buried in drop-down menus. Here are the keyboard shortcuts for some of Photoshop’s most helpful tools…
Ctrl+L – Levels
Ctrl+M – Curves
Ctrl+U – Hue/Saturation
Ctrl+C – Copy
Ctrl+V – Paste
Ctrl+J – New Layer via Copy
Space bar – Holding this down allows you to temporarily use the Hand tool to drag the image around on-screen.
44 Back-up your files
Backing-up your shots onto a separate hard drive, DVDs or using online storage won’t seem important until disaster strikes and your computer dies. So store your images in at least one other location, as well as your computer’s hard drive, so your images are safe should the worst happen.
45 Get to grips with batch processing
Adjusting and processing raw files can be very time-consuming, particularly if you have lots of images to work through. In Adobe Camera Raw you can open multiple raw files at the same time, then depending on whether you are using Photoshop Elements or CS there are a couple of ways to apply adjustments to all of the images.
In Photoshop CS you can select the first image, apply your adjustments, then use the Select All option, click on the Synchronize button and choose the adjustments to apply from the list. Alternatively, in both CS and Elements you can select all of the images at the start, and then any adjustments you make will be applied to every image at the same time.
For more on this, see our step-by-step guide to editing multiple photos using batch processing.
46 Create presets / actions
Some repetitive tasks, such as resizing your images, are pretty boring and time-consuming, but in Photoshop CS you can create Actions to automate many of these.
To do this, open the Actions palette (Window>Actions) and then create a new Action. You can then click on the Record button at the bottom of the palette and simply go through the sequence of adjustments on one image, clicking the Stop button when you’re done. These adjustments are then saved, and you can apply them to any open image by clicking the Play button in the Actions palette.
You can’t record Actions in Photoshop Elements, but in Elements 7 and later there is an Actions Player, which allows you to use many Actions recorded in Photoshop CS. It won’t be able to play Actions that include adjustments such as Curves (which aren’t available in Elements) though, so make sure that the Action is compatible with the version of Elements that you are using.
47 Drag Adjustment Layers
As well keeping your original image intact, using Adjustment Layers also has another advantage over other types of editing. If you want to apply the same adjustment to another image, for example, you can simply drag the Adjustment Layer from one image to the other.
48 Personalize your workspace
The basic layout of the editing window in either Photoshop CS or Elements includes the Tools palette on the left and a selection of palettes on the right. The content of the right-hand palettes can be changed, depending on what information is most useful for the editing that you are doing.
Click on the Window option in the top menu of the screen and you will find a long list of palettes to choose from, which can be displayed in your editing window simply by clicking on each one in turn. These can then be displayed in the panel on the right of the editing window, or dragged onto the main window.
Photoshop Elements will revert to the layout that you last used each time you open it, but in Photoshop CS you can save different workspace layouts by going to Window>Workspace>Save Workspace.
49 Save your raw settings
If you find yourself applying the same edits, such as sharpening and saturation, to almost every image, it’s well worth saving these settings so that you can apply them in a single process. Using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop CS you can save edits as a preset by clicking on the drop-down icon at the top right of any adjustment panel and selecting Save Settings.
Both Photoshop Elements and CS allow you to save a new set of values as the default setting that will be applied every time you open a raw file in Photoshop. This is a great time saver.
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