How to Wash That Gray Right Outta Your Photos (with Photoshop Elements)

Let's talk about a super simple way to fix those gray overcast photos with just a few clicks in Photoshop Elements (I'm using PSE 9 for those following along).

But first...I may be dating myself here, but I remember watching this Clairol Loving Care hair color commercial when I was a kid where the woman was singing about "I'm gonna wash that gray right outta my hair!" (a takeoff on the song "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair" from the musical South Pacific). Now, every time I fix one of my photos from gray to white, I think of that song. And now you will too.

But, I digress. On to the tutorial!
Disclaimer: I am not a Photoshop "expert"! I am, just like most of you out there, always looking for quick and easy ways to edit my photos without spending a lot of time and money on it. with every post on my blog, this is just an account of my way of doing things. I hope it helps you too!

Here's my original photo of one of my Tote2Go ID Wallets. I love the wallet, but the's okay - nice and clear, but gray as a Seattle winter's day...

Yuck. Gray, gray, go away...don't come back another day...
If you find your should-be-white-background type photos have this sort of gray overcast to them, give this quick fix a try - it may save you tons of time messing with sliders and numbers! Here's what to do:

Let's Talk About: Custom White Balance

A while ago, I wrote about how manually adjusting your "EV +/-" setting can help you brighten up your gray photos quite easily. However, if your color balance is way off - beyond just a bit of graying out, then it's time to look at the next step in managing the color of your photos: Custom White Balance.

Yikes. That is some serious blue background!
White balance is a camera setting that adjusts according to the ambient light around your scene. In most cases "auto white balance" works just fine, however, when it comes to small object photography, sometimes "auto" just doesn't give you the results you need. When this happens, it's time to go custom!