In Photoshop Elements you can edit pictures in a number of formats. However today the one format you will most often see used is JPG (also shown as JPEG), however in this format the pictures are compressed to reduce the size on your storage (hard drive or CD normally). The other format less often used is RAW format and the camera just stores exactly what it sees when picture is taken. Your higher end cameras may shoot in this format, my Canon Rebel shoots RAW and JPG.
Article ended here in publication.
With RAW format (Canon uses extension of CRW) you can alter the picture drastically when you bring it in Photoshop Elements. The main three settings I adjust on these are exposure, saturation, and White Balance. I start with White Balance and choose how the surrounding was. For instance you can choose fluorescent, tungsten, cloudy, etc and it will do a great color adjustment for these. Secondly I use exposure and this is just like changing exposure on camera so the entire picture changes and this is not like using brightness, You can get most of the brightness you need from this. I have seen items in pictures using this that were shot in low light that I did not see with naked eye. Last if there is an orangey or red or yellow tint in picture decreasing Saturation helps a bunch. When you save the file it will be saved in JPG format. Your original is still there you can go back and play with it, however it does remember some settings, but clicking Auto buttons goes back to the original.
For JPG files you will have fewer abilities and they are different. I like to do three items and the pictures are very realistic. If the picture was shot outdoors usually only Shadow option is all I do.
To adjust the appearance, these settings seem to work well for my Canon Rebel camera, play with what does best for you.
1. Go to Enhance, Adjust Color, Adjust Hue/Saturation
2. Change Master in Edit to Reds
3. Move Saturation to left to about -25
4, Click OK
The next steps remove shadows or darkness while not brightening everything.
1. Go to Enhance, Adjust Lighting, Shadows/Highlights
2. Move Lighten Shadows to 25
3. Click OK
If picture seems dark
1. Go to Enhance, Adjust Lighting, Brightness/Contrast and adjust brightness.
2. If you adjust a lot then try Contrast about half as much.
3. Chick OK
Lastly use the Image, Resize, Image Size to change pictures to new sizes. This can be done in pixels/points (good if you are doing for web display) or in inches (good for doing prints). Make sure you do re-size to the size of the print you want when sending pictures to a photo lab to be printed (including at the corner drugstore) or the picture you get back may have been cropped different than you wanted. Lastly save the new edited picture as a different name than the original. I like to add the word edited on the end of the name before the .jpg so I will know which is edited and which is not. JPG files are compressed and uncompressed when you edit them and compressed again when they are saved. If you edit an edited one you will find details disappear as you keep doing editing and re-editing. It is similar to making a copy from a copy instead of from an original.
You can do lots more in editing your pictures but this is just a basic start.
Have fun shooting your pictures.
Copyright 2006 by Dwight Watt