Here is a picture I took of my son, Dylan. Surprisingly, it is a great picture of my cute kid. While he is always cute, he tends to take horrible pictures because he contorts his face in weird ways. My only good pictures of him are when I catch him off guard, even then, its rare. So when we were playing at the ranch and he game me a little smirk, it was a miracle that I captured it so clearly. Here is the original straight from the camera photo. Its pretty good I think... but its a good one to play with because it has some shadows, some very sharp lines and a blurry background. I think its called bokeh, but I am a dummy when it comes to photography terms. I just point and shoot.
The first thing I did here was play with The Pioneer Woman's sets, which she graciously shared with her followers. These are basically shortcuts which allow a dumb chick like me to click a button and do 15 steps instead of my trying to figure out which 15 steps would work best to brighten, darken, sharpen, sepia, or whatever other thing I wanted to do to a picture. These shortcuts are really helping me get my feet wet with this program instead of never opening the program because it intimidates me. http://thepioneerwoman.com/photography/2008/12/pioneer-woman-action-set-2-yahoo-yippety/
I used the PW B/W Beauty action and adjusted the opacity of the light on the layer. Then I clicked off the button on gradient map 1, which turned the photo back to color. I also did a quick edge burn and lowered the opacity on it to 40%. The I used her 'Bring On the Eyes" action which allows you to lighten and brighten the eyes. I love this action for many different photos!
This photo is the same as the above edited photo except I left the Gradient Map 1 clicked. I don't know what it all means, but by clicking and playing with it, I can toggle on and off different actions and see vast differences in seconds helping me decide which looks better. Someday maybe I will know what the heck I am doing!