Thanks to digital, I have total control over my images—and so do you. If I couldn't see the effect of exposure settings on the LCD and make adjustments on the spot, I'd have a lower percentage of keepers. What's more, I couldn't make enhancements—creative decisions would be left to a photo lab, as it was when I first got into photography. And don't forget the power of a RAW file, from which you can recover up to one stop of an overexposed area! Here, I'll share a few enhancements made using Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Here's my straight-out-of-the-camera shot of a marine iguana in the Galapagos (left). I used a full-frame 15mm lens set at ƒ/8 on my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. The ultra-wide lens got the animal, which was only a few inches from my lens, in focus, as well as the background.
Cropping the photo is always the first step in my image-enhancement process.
Here, I used Shadow/Highlight to tone down the sky and the other bright areas of the scene.
To warm up the picture (color temperature), I created a Saturation layer, rather than working on the background layer. Creating an adjustment layer is easy. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer and select the desired adjustment layer, Hue/Saturation in this case. The Hue/Saturation dialog box opened and I increased the saturation by moving the Saturation slider to the right.
The next step—sharpen the image. But wait just a second! Usually, there's no reason to sharpen the entire image. Rather, you want to sharpen selectively. Think local, not global. That's the key when it comes to sharpening. That philosophy also applies to using Levels and Contrast.