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Photoshop: Image Enhancement the Basics

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  • Photoshop: Image Enhancement the Basics

    To enhance an image-- The very basics

    Itís nearly imposable to get the best image straight from camera and some twinkling will be required to get ďas you saw it" photo. This twinkling does not have to complicated or need big editing programs and can be very easily be done with most if not all the very basic free programs that come with cameras or computers.

    Iím not going to explain how each works; Iím hoping the following will break the ice for you so you explore.

    #1 rule of image enhancement>>always work on a copy image; never work on the original. If you muck up a copy you can delete it and start again on another copy.

    #2 rule of image enhancement>>a little is a lot. Itís very easy to overdo it

    Levels: this is the first one I always look for and it is used to add contrast to the image. You can also use levels to fix any/most colour problems. Curves; the big brother of levels is another worth learning, but after you sort out levels.

    Cropping: most photos will benefit from some cropping. This cropping may stay in the original format of the image; or it may remove waste area form the top or bottom or the sides. There is no need to stay as a ďstandard photo sizeĒ any more. Some cropping tools will also let you rotate the image a bit so the horizon or buildings can be straightened.

    Saturation tools: remember #2 rule>> a little is a lot>>itís very easy to overdo it. Saturation will add vibrancy into the image and some programs will let work on set colours. It can be also used to make a poor quality black and white.

    Hue: This tool is often bundled with saturation but is used separately and you change colours of the whole image; or you can pick a certain colour to correct.

    Sharpen: Most images will need some sharpening. Again easy to over do, but the "unsharp" [stupid name] seems to be the most popular but most sharpening tools will work for you

    Some programs have brightness/contrast tool; best not to use it. If you do use it, only use it very lightly as it can damage an image.

    Now those few tools; Levels; crop; saturation/hue will do wonders to most images. I have not given direction where or how to find these tools as not everyone is using the same program; just hunt around and you will find them.

    I have borrowed Lloyd image from this thread . If this not OK Lloyd I or a Mod will remove it. The second image is the original image . You will also notice I have used curves in the original thread rework.

    This is a good time on the year [in Aust that is] to spend time learning enhancement tools. So get in there and fiddle around on a few copy images as that is the best way to learn because your camera cannot do it all.

    Dodge and Burn

    These are old names come from the dark room. Dodge will lighten a photo and burn will darken a photo; but the effect is used to small parts of a photo. The photo could be darkened in one section and lighten in another section. Right click will give you the choice of Burn (hand icon); Dodge (black paddle icon); Sponge. Left click the one you want to use.

    In Photoshop the dodge and burn tool is found in the tools bar and the effect is controlled by brush, range and exposure

    Exposure: for most jobs it is best to set this under 10%. Itís often better to use the brush 10 times instead of once. 2 or 3% will often be best. Work slowly and build up the effect.

    Brush: for most jobs the soft round bush is the best; however you can use any brush you wish

    Range: There is a choice of Highlight, Midtone and Shadow. Midtones the one that will be used the most; however with experience highlight and shadow can used to great effect.

    When D+B has been used correctly on a photo; it should be impossible to see the effect. That is to say the effect needs to smooth and well blended in the rest of the image.

    The Sponge tool

    This is a saturate or desaturate tool and is used on sections of on photos. This saturation tool can be used to add colour and vibrancy to say a flower, and the desaturation tool can be used to remove colour from an over bright flower that maybe too distracting to the overall photo.

    As with all Photoshopping; practise make perfect. Just fiddle around on reject photos; but never on the original file.

    two inserted images will guide you to the location for dodge; burn; sponge. Note: no changes have been made to the images.

    Please note the blue section has been added into the original thread

    Contributed by IanB
    Olympus OM-D, Oly 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
    Flickr - Your Melbourne Family Portrait Photographer

  • #2
    That IanB is a clever fella; but he should get a real life.
    Cheers for now, IanB.
    Photos by Ian Browne on Facebook