Earlier this week, I wrote about darkening blown out highlights in your images by using a Levels adjustment layer in Photoshop Elements. Some of you might have noticed that darkening highlights is similar to the process for creating a matte look in Photoshop Elements.

Whenever you make the darks in an image lighter and/or make the lights darker, you are reducing contrast. Reducing contrast significantly creates a matte appearance for your photo. Something like this:

elements hazy matte before after


For those that want to darken highlights or create a matte look without editing each photo of a large session step by step, there are actions for Photoshop Elements or presets for Lightroom to save time.

I took a bunch of photos on the fairy house trail recently. It was in the woods, such as they are here in Texas, so we had mostly shady conditions with the sky shining through very bright in places.

matte 2 ba

Applying this matte look to all the photos was an easy way to make the sky less distracting. After selecting all the photos in Lightroom and making sure that Auto Sync was enabled, I clicked on the Matte Blend preset from MCP’s Enlighten. In addition, I darkened Highlights further using the Highlights Protection and brightened shadows using the Shadows Brighten presets. These three presets were applied to all my photos at the same time.

matte 2 ba-2

If I had wanted to add color overlays, I could have done that using any of the presets from Enlighten’s Enhance section.

For you Photoshop Elements users, MCP’s Inspire offers several matte looks for your edits. You can use Modern Matte, Chic or Ultimate Matte. Inspire offers a Shadow Lightener and a Highlight Tamer as well.

Just remember, as you use these presets or actions that they won’t repair the blown out highlights in your image. They will, however, make those areas less distracting. Whether you edit in Lightroom or Photoshop Elements, one photo or many, you can get the look you’d like quickly even if you don’t quite understand how to make the changes manually.