Digital Scrapbooking with Printed Photos: Photo Editing


     Click here to read Part 1 of this Blog Series

Click here to read Part 2 of this Blog Series

In this post I’ll show you how I used Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Lightroom 4.4 to turn a couple of just okay printed photos into two of my favourite layouts in this album (one I used as the cover).


Adobe Photoshop Elements 9

Since Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is a program I use in my everyday designing and scrapping, I started my photo editing here. I opened up the photo scan, converted the depth (an automatic PSE9 pop up when you convert the scan from background to layer), then did some of the clean up right there on the large, uncropped scan.


Photo Scan loaded in Photoshop Elements 9

Here were my Photoshop Elements 9 MVP tools:

Enhance –> Adjust Lighting –> brightness/contrast – My first goal for every photo was to make the brights brighter, the darks darker and colours stronger.


Brightness & Contrast Adjustment in Photoshop Elements 9

Enhance –> Adjust Colour –> Adjust Hue/Saturation – Even though I eventually converted many of my photos into black & white, for some I liked the colour enhanced version the best.


Colour Adjustment in Photoshop Elements 9

Clone stamp tool – this tool was amazing for cleaning up minor scratches, getting rid of minor shadows and textures and removing any oddly placed lights and glow spots.

At this point I saved a copy of the edited photos as separate .jpg files. These were the photo files I used in Lightroom 4.4 and for digital scrapping.

Rectangular Marquee Tool & image –> resize –> scale – Once I finished the initial clean up of my photos, I used these tools to crop and reduce the size of each photo to fit the various sized windows of the Still Life Collection: First Draft 12×12 Album. Now resized, I continued to photo edit, enhancing the colours & contrast and using the clone tool to fix anything I missed during the first round of editing.

Burn & dodge tool – From making shadows darker, to enhancing poor lighting, to making a whole line of guests disappear (total bridezilla move haha), this little tool was my go-to throughout the photo editing and scrapping process.

Honorable Mention Tool

filter –> noise –> reduce noise – This tool did an okay job with smoothing over a photo with a lot of colour noise. It also had a tendency to wipe away some finer details I wanted to keep, especially on faces, so I used it sparingly.

Never Used

enhance –> adjust colour –> remove colour – Converting a colour photo to black & white can be done in PSE9, but my personal preference is to leave this conversion to the presets in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4.

Speaking of Lightroom…


Ready to Develop in Lightroom 4.4

I then imported all of these newly enhanced, cropped and saved .jpg photos into my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4 program. The program itself comes with some useful presets, but you can easily find a supply of professional quality, free and inexpensive presets all over the web. These presets allowed me to make quick adjustments, create unity, hide imperfections and even add character to my photos.

For many of the photos in this album I used a set of holga presets I found on Presets Heaven (here is the link to the actual page which includes a link to the page of Dustin Leader, the designer of this set of presets).


Before & After using Lightroom Preset

In the above example I applied the preset Holga in Blue, then reduced the grain to 0, and finally made various minor adjustments to the settings of temp, tint, exposure, recovery, fill light and black.

I returned the exported photo to my layout in Photoshop Elements 9 and then applied a portion of an overlay from my Still Life Collection: 12×12 Color Overlays Pack 1 to the photo.


Before & After Applying Special Effects Overlay

What resulted was a standout layout that I knew I wanted to use for my album cover.


My Photo Book Cover

Breaking it Down Step by Step: So This is Love Layout

Step 1: Sized


Above I showed you how I used my MVP tools in Photoshop Elements 9 to get my photos prepped for digital scrapping.  Now fixed, sized and positioned in the windows of my chosen quick page, I decided the best approach to unify this set of photos was to convert them to black & white.

Step 2: Removed Colour with Lightroom 4.4 Presets


Once copies of both photos were imported into my Lightroom 4.4 library, I clicked on develop, then scrolled down the user presets drop menu to find the holga preset that would best convert these colour photos to black & white. I selected Holga on the Scene, first sliding the grain down to 0, then making various adjustments to the exposure, recovery, fill light and black settings. This preset did a great job highlighting my husband and I in the foreground and the icicle lighting in the background, all the while making the patterns and people in the background a little less noticeable.

Step 3: Burn & Dodge Tool in Photoshop Elements 9


Remember when I mentioned earlier that I had made a whole line of my guests disappear? That was thanks to the burn tool from Photoshop Elements 9. I selected a soft brush, set the exposure value around 50-60%, kept the range midtones, then brushed all the white noise and people away. I did a quick switch over to the dodge tool with the same soft brush and midtones range, only with this tool I reduced the exposure value to 25%. I used this tool to softly brighten up most of the whites in the photos.

Step 4:


At this point I was fairly happy with the results, but I wanted to add a little more magic to the photos. I then applied one of the overlays from the Still Life Collection: Mask & Sun Flares Element Pack.


After cropping the overlay to fit each of the photos, I adjusted for size and colour, then set the overlay on the blending mode of screen in the layers palate (reducing the opacity of the overlay by a little).

The Result


One of my favourite layouts in the entire album.

The time and effort that went into all the steps that lead up to creating this album was totally worth it.  Once I got started, the reward of seeing each page come together kept me motivated to reach that goal I had set for myself at the beginning of this whole project.  You can see many of these layouts in my gallery at Oscraps.


A few pages from my album.

What’s next?  An album full of printed honeymoon photos, favourite photos from my childhood and even photos from my parents’ albums – the list is endless, but exciting too!

I hope that many of you have been inspired to gather up your own handful of treasured printed photos to digitally scrap!  If you already have, tell me about it in the comments below! 🙂

Click here to be taken to the first blog post in this series where I also have a special $2 coupon that can be used on anything in my shoppe! Grab it before it expires this weekend.

Click here to see the quick page album I used to scrap my wedding photos!



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